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Can Linux Win in Cloud Computing?

Gerrit Huizenga is Cloud Architect at IBM (and fellow Portland-er) and will be speaking at the upcoming Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in a keynote session titled "The Clouds Are Coming: Are We Ready?" Linux is often heralded as the platform for the cloud, but Huizenga warns that while it is in the best technical position to warrant this title, there is work to do to make this a reality.

Huizenga took a few moments earlier this week to chat with us as he prepares for his controversial presentation at the Summit.

You will be speaking at The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit about Linux and the cloud. Can you give us a teaser on what we can expect from your talk?

Huizenga: Clouds are on the top of every IT departments list of new and key technologies to invest in. Obviously high on those lists are things like VMware and Amazon EC2. But where is the open source community in terms of comparable solutions which can be easily set up and deployed? Is it possible to build a cloud with just open source technologies? Would that cloud be a "meets min" sort of cloud, or can you build a full fledged, enterprise-grade cloud with open source today? What about using a hybrid of open source and proprietary solutions? Is that possible, or are we locked in to purely proprietary solutions today? Will Open Standards help us? What are some recommendations today for building clouds?

Linux is often applauded as the "platform for the cloud." Do you think this is accurate? If not, what still needs to be done? If so, what is it about Linux that gives it this reputation?

Huizenga: Linux definitely has the potential to be a key platform for the cloud. However, it isn't there yet. There are a few technology inhibitors with respect to Linux as the primary cloud platform, as well as a number of market place challenges. Those challenges can be addressed but there is definitely some work to do in that space.

What are the advantages of Linux for both public and private clouds?

Huizenga: It depends a bit about whether you consider Linux as a guest or virtual server in a cloud, or whether it is the hosting platform of the cloud. The more we enable Linux as a guest within the various hypervisors, and enable Linux to be managed within the cloud, the greater the chance of standardizing on Linux as the "packaging format" for applications.

This increases the overall presence of Linux in the market place and in some ways simplifies ISV's lives in porting applications to clouds. As a hosting platform, one of the biggest advantages for cloud operators is the potential cost/pricing model for Linux and the overall impact on the cost of operating a cloud. And, the level of openness that Linux provides should simplify the ability to support the cloud infrastructure and over time increase the number of services that can be provided by a cloud. But we still have quite a bit of work to do to make Linux a ubiquitous cloud platform.

What is happening at the Linux development level to support the rapidly maturing cloud opportunity? What does the community need from other Linux users and developers to help accelerate its development and address these challenges?

Huizenga: I'll talk about some of the KVM technologies that we need to continue to develop to enable cloud, as well as some of the work on virtual server building & packaging, DevOps, Deployment, and Management. There are plenty of places for the open source community to contribute and several talks at the Collaboration Summit should dive further into the details as well.

What do you make of Microsoft running Linux on Azure?

Huizenga: Anything that lets us run Linux in more places must be good!

More information about Huizenga's talk can be found on The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit schedule. If you're interested in joining us, you can also request an invitation to attend.

 

Slideshow: Five Years of Linux Collaboration

One of our most special events of the year is just a month away, the Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. This Summit is unique because it's the first event we ever hosted (2007 on the Google campus) and aims to bring together Linux Foundation members with other distinguished community members to work on very specific opportunities for Linux. This year, the event will be at the Hotel Nikko from April 3-5.

As we prepare for the Collaboration Summit, we wanted to share with you a little trip down memory lane. This year is the sixth annual event, so this slideshow shares pictures from five years of Linux collaboration. From Google's campus to Austin, Texas to Hotel Kabuki, come with us as we remember why this event continues to be so amazing.

If you're interested in attending, please request an invitation.

 

Why Linux Jobs Are Burning Up the Tech Market: Q&A with Dice.com's Alice Hill

The Linux Foundation, in partnership with Dice.com, today released the results of the first-ever Linux Jobs Report. Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin breaks down the significance of those findings in his blog. In this special interview, we talk to Dice Managing Director Alice Hill for her perspective on what is most interesting about the 2012 Linux Jobs Report and the outlook for Linux professionals.

What do you think is the most important finding from the 2012 Linux Jobs Report? Why?

Hill: Linux is firmly at the core of software development and system administration and still growing. What the survey respondents tell us about Linux as a priority for 2012 echoes recruitment posting activity on Dice. We have seen demand in areas like mobile and cloud take off, but Linux-related jobs are a consistent leader. In fact, Linux job postings on Dice.com are up 17 percent year/year and is one of the top 10 most requested skills.

What surprised you about the results? Why?

Hill: It’s not a surprise to us that Linux talent is in demand, but what is surprising is the fact that 85 percent of companies report having difficulty finding qualified Linux professionals. That’s substantial. Linux is a core skill and employers understand this. Now tech professionals need to recognize the opportunity and join this community.

Dice works closely with recruiters and hiring managers. What are you hearing about demand or points of pain for Linux talent?

Hill: Hiring managers tell us they’re looking for Linux talent who can not only build and update complex systems, but also contribute to the success of the tech department and the company overall.

We advise hiring managers to watch for shortages in certain high demand areas like Linux and to work hard on retention. Aside from salary, offering the option to telecommute or to take on new and challenging projects have been powerful retention tools and work to ward off poaching.

Looking beyond 2012, what would you predict the Linux jobs market will look like?

Hill: At Dice.com we don't really predict specific job markets, but we do study our data, which is a leading indicator of growth and movement in certain skills and tech metro areas. Linux talent is not only in demand in 46 states, but as we saw in our salary survey, these professionals are also commanding salary increases after two years of flat salaries overall. Linux garners an average annual salary of more than $86,000, above the national average of $81,000.

Software programming and development skills have been getting a lot of attention nationally. What kinds of things can employers and universities do to encourage more men and women pursue this line of work?

Hill:
I think we've seen that tech in general, and programming and development specifically, has been where demand is. Even in an uncertain economy, tech unemployment rates fall well below the national average. With a shortage of computer science grads, as evidenced by a report Dice did last May, this only fuels the demand for more skilled entry-level developers. Shortages put pressure on tech wages, and some colleges and universities are creating exciting new programs to get students accredited sooner and into the workforce faster to capitalize on these higher salaries. It's a great time to be in this field.

Thank you to Alice for taking the time to give us her insights. Please feel free to download the full 2012 Linux Jobs Report .

 

The Best Linux Events of 2012

The Linux Foundation today announced its 2012 Linux events and onsite training schedule. Some highlights include a triple-header in San Diego in August: LinuxCon North America, Linux Plumbers Conference and Linux Kernel Summit. Someone better warn San Diego natives that we're taking over their city this summer. We're also really excited to host three events in Barcelona: LinuxCon Europe, Embedded Linux Conference Europe and KVM Forum. Viva Linux!

You can check out today's news release for details on these and other events or check out this slideshow we whipped together with some cool images and photos from past events. Shows us what's in store this year.

 

13-Year Software Veteran Learns New Tricks with Embedded Linux Course

Derald Woods is a 13-year engineering veteran who today works in software development, designing and supporting electronic vehicle controls for heavy equipment and trucks. Lately, his time is being used to work on an ARM9-based embedded Linux solution that involves NTSC/PAL video CSI input, V4L2 overlay, and graphics provided by an SDL implementation.

Derald WoodsThis work lead him to The Linux Foundation's "Embedded Linux: A Crash Course" to dig in deeper and build upon his existing knowledge in this area.

"I have had embedded Linux training from other sources, but this was an opportunity to ask questions and discuss some approaches that I have taken in the process of maintaining my own embedded Linux environment. It was good that the other class participants were also experienced Linux developers. We were able to pinpoint our specific needs and pull from the instructor's background. The instructor was a seasoned and experienced professional who actually has helped to deliver real solutions. He was able to sense the needs of the class and tailor the time spent toward those needs."

Vendor-neutral Training Offers Intimate Level of Expertise

In addition to the instructor's depth of knowledge, Derald said that the Linux training offered an opportunity to learn from other developers and engineers who deal with problems similar to his own. He says the biggest reason he chose this course from The Linux Foundation is because of the organization's neutral position and alignment with the Linux development community.

"I wanted to be sure that the information received was from a group that has some exposure to Linux at an intimate level."
Derald at LinuxCon 20th Anniversary Gala
Combining Training with Event Attendance Has Its Benefits

Derald was able to maximize his Linux training investment by taking "Embedded Linux: A Crash Course" while attending LinuxCon North America in Vancouver, B.C.

"The combination of the Embedded Linux training and the LinuxCon event provided a unique opportunity to get a full open source experience. I am usually the only person in the room who has gone beyond the high-level interactions with Linux code. At LinuxCon North America, everyone was like me to some degree. That was very refreshing."

As for the learning experiences in the LinuxCon sessions, Derald says that the sessions were very good. "They gave me some perspective on how open source projects are managed," he added. "Being in the same room with kernel maintainers was an interesting experience. Once you realize that they are actually 'human' beings and not 'mystical' beings, the big picture starts to unfold. They need our help with testing, validation, and occasionally a good idea."

Linux Foundation Training Translates into On-the-Job Expertise, Career Maturity
Derald is already using his new knowledge on the job.

"I have started using 'crosstool-ng' to generate the embedded Linux toolchain. This should allow me to have more fine-grained control of the compilation artifacts of the entire software stack. It forces me to consider more factors that impact overall software performance. I am learning more about how things really work."

He added, "If you are delivering an embedded Linux solution, you really need to continue learning. Even if you already perceive that you are good at what you do with Linux, training keeps you honest and engaged."

The Linux training Derald received from The Linux Foundation will add to his ongoing evolution as a software engineer and Linux enthusiast. He says that his career as as software engineer and Linux will always be completely intertwined. His technical interest in the Linux operating system started as a hobby but he soon found his knowledge helpful at work. That knowledge grew into an area of core competence for Derald in his job, and today it's his primary career focus. "Embedded Linux: A Crash Course" adds another level of understanding for his journey forward.

For more information, please visit The Linux Foundation's Linux Training website.
 

 
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