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How does the Open Source space look in the South African market?

We had a chat with Derryn Askham, Partner Executive at SUSE.

“Personally, I have been in the Open Source market since 2009. It has been an interesting experience watching the shift and growth of open source adoption and enthusiasm with customers. When I started out, almost every meeting I had begun with “what is Open Source”, what is the community, what are the benefits, is it stable, can I trust it and is it Enterprise ready?”

“Over the years, these meetings have evolved as the market has matured. The discussions we are having now is about customers’ Open Source strategy and how best to apply this to next generation technologies”, Derryn continues.

There are those people that default to the saying “well, South Africa is several years behind international trends”. While this may be true in some instances we are seeing some amazing innovations come out of our South African customer base that are being referenced internationally. This kind of innovation is driven by the flexibility, adaptability and security, which are some of the driving forces behind Enterprise Open Source. There is quicker innovation, quicker time to market and bigger scope for revenue generation for businesses.
We definitely see that the South African market is moving in the right direction with growth in the double digits. Open Source is no longer limited to the proxy or DNS servers that you configured once and let run and forget about. It is now an integral part of business from operating system, virtualisation, systems management, the move towards software defined infrastructure, cloud integration, containers and devops.

Current Market Trends in Open Source

Companies have matured beyond Open Source as an operating system and has moved “up the stack” to become an integral part of business strategy.

Derryn believes that the ethos of Open Source is a promotion of transparency and collaboration, among other things. It has shifted the driving force of products and solutions from what a vendor finds important for business to having the needs of business brought forward, addressed and “productified” by the community in many cases, with contributors being the customers themselves. This allows for rapid innovation, collaboration and go-to-market of new products and indeed, new technologies.

A prime example of this is Open Stack. Open Stack began in 2010 primarily by NASA and Rackspace and today it has over 500 companies that have joined and are active contributors. They have developed this from an Infrastructure as a Service platform to incorporate other integral technologies which are important for businesses like NFV, Orchestration, Friendly Web UI, Management, storage integration, identity services etc. Many of these have been pulled in from active community projects

Same thing can be said for Enterprise Containers. The technology for containers has been available within Linux for many years, but it took a dedicated community that found a business applicable use case for this to create and promote an Enterprise ready product which has driven this technology adoption into the mainstream.

“We see this with SUSE as an example. As little as 10 years ago, people were only associating Open Source with Linux and more specifically as the Operating System. Today, we have diversified our own solutions based on market and industry trends and offer our solutions as building blocks which allow customers to move towards a Software Defined Data Centre”, says Derryn.

What’s hot and happening in terms of technology and technology related jobs?

There are many technologies that are no longer buzz words/terminologies. While these are exciting and relevant in our rapidly progressing world, they bring about their own set of challenges and begs the question – are we ready from a skills perspective? Some of these ideas are:

  • Internet of Things
  • Smart Cities
  • Containerisation and MicroServices
  • Data Analytics
  • Focus on Devops

I am sure we have all seen the infographic that gives you the amount of digital transactions that happen every 60 seconds. There are incredible numbers e.g. 98000 tweets sent, 168 million emails sent, and the scariest of all is that 1,820TB of data is created per minute.
In this digital age we are moving towards data being the new currency. From the time we wake up in the morning to the time we go to sleep at night we are creating data in some way/means or form at every step of the way. From the obvious work related transactions like Email, CRM, to online banking, social media and even to tracking our personal health with wearable fitness trackers.

This data is invaluable from an analysis perspective. Companies can mine this to make better, more focused, business decisions.

  • How is this mined? Who does this analysis? Is it computer process driven or does it need manual interpretation?
  • How do we keep this secure and ensure that it is POPI compliant?
  • All of this data must be stored somewhere. How do companies keep up with this growth?

There is much we don’t know about what the future holds. We have great technology available at our fingertips, but do we have the skills necessary to implement, support and maintain it?

Emerging Job Titles

We hear a lot about a new job titles that have emerged over the last few years.

Examples are:

  • Data scientist
  • Chief data officer
  • Chief analytics officer
  • Digital marketing officer

From an Open Source perspective, there is a strong demand for skills. According to the Linux Foundations’ Open Source Job Report:

  • 89% of hiring managers said that it is difficult to find OSS talent and;
  • 86% of IT professionals said that OSS has advanced their careers

The most in-demand skills at the moment include Cloud, Application Dev, Big data, Devops, and security. SUSE is committed to skills development within the Open Source ecosystem which is why training partners like CTU are integral to our channel from building Enterprise skills to graduate development. SUSE has also released an Academic program which will enable Universities and schools to start developing skills at grassroots level. Training is one thing but you need to get your hands dirty. This is Open Source, there is a community out there. Find the projects that surround your foundation, download software, play and join the community. Open Source skills and certifications afford you the opportunity to differentiate yourself in the market.

Interested in a SUSE course?

CTU is an authorised SUSE training provider and Red Hat Academy, offering more than 30 years’ experience in developing industry professionals. Whether you want to improve your skill, or the skills of your team, CTU offers hands-on, role-based training for IT professionals. CTU is one of only few providers with the ability to offer a qualification based programme in the form of a Learnership aligned to open source certifications, making a significant contribution to the development of open source skills in South Africa.