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Survey: Techies reckon open sourcery has better prospects than familiarity with a single vendor's cloud wares

Dodging lock-in good for the career as well as the soul

Getting skilled up in open source could be a better career bet than focusing on a specific vendor's cloud technology.

Or so states IBM sponsored research from O'Reilly Media, which paints a picture of open-source technologies proliferating as cloud adoption continues (be it public or hybrid). Earlier research from the IBM Institute for Business Value noted that a typical enterprise tended to be fickle in its cloud vendor selection. An average of six hybrid clouds would feature in plans of the common organisation in the next three years.

As such, hitching one's wagon to the likes of AWS or Azure might turn out to be unwise. Instead, it is the underlying open-source technology such as Linux (or darling of the hour Kubernetes) that is attracting most interest.

The survey collated the thoughts of approximately 3,440 respondents, of which 1,123 claimed to be software developers or engineers. It is quite a bit down on the annual Stack Overflow survey, which contained the responses of 65,000 last year, but it gives IBM's perspective on the strength of open source in the age of cloud technology.

Pretty much all of the respondents used free and open-source software (FOSS) in their organisations. Some 94 per cent reckoned FOSS code was as good if not better than the proprietary option, and 70 per cent picked a cloud provider based on open source.

Linux, containers, and databases were rated as the most important to know, and employers also considered knowledge of open source an important factor. The spectre of vendor lock-in loomed large over the results as more than half of respondents reckoned that professional growth would be limited by sticking to a single cloud provider (17.5 per cent disagreed).

A similar percentage (54.9 per cent this time) said that the use of FOSS boosted credibility among peers, while a substantial number (38.9 per cent) had no strong feelings one way or the other. A T-shirt emblazoned with a penguin may therefore not always be the best way to make friends and influence people.

The open-source love-in is not universal. While the UK government is very keen on the use of FOSS, a report from Acquia found that adoption lurched from nearly 100 per cent at the Department of Transport (although .NET Core played a major part, doubtless infuriating the "anything but Microsoft" brigade) to between 3.5 and 3.7 per cent for the Department of Work and Pensions.

The latter stated in a response to a Freedom of Information request by Acquia that many apps contained both open and closed-source components.

As for the IBM-sponsored survey, it is more evidence that cloud technologies have their roots in open source, and so fixating on a single vendor or proprietary technology could end up being somewhat career limiting in the longer term. Findings that fit neatly with Big Blue's view that we live in a multi-cloud, hybrid world. ®

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