Why are open source developers more in demand than ever?

Erik Kappelman

November 13th, 2017

 There are many reasons why open source professionals are in high demand. But let’s start with the obvious one first: one of the biggest reasons open source professionals are in such demand today has nothing to do with the fact that they are open source professionals, but simply because technology has become such a core part of just about every organization in every industry. But, there’s more to it than that.

Why open source developers are good for businesses

Let's talk for a minute about what open source professional actually means, or what it could mean. I would separate open source professionals into two broad groups that overlap each other quite a bit. There are people who use open source tools in professional settings, such as Node.js, Angular 2, and others. Then there are the people who are the creators of open source tools, such as those at Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Firebase.

But why are so many more people are using open source tools in a professional setting? Sure, fashion is a part of it, but there’s obviously a much more prosaic answer: open source tools are free to use. Technological innovation is seen as powering growth – and while the right people might cost money, taking advantage of these tools can make a transformative impact. Proprietary tools, after all, limit organizations – they require specific skillsets, and they demand you work in specific ways.

It’s for this reason, then, that businesses are starting to consider the impact an open source tech strategy can have. And the consequence is then that these skills are more in demand than ever. 

Why is open source better?

Open source is better because it allows more freedom. It empowers businesses – even very small ones – to innovate and create new solutions to problems. Traditional software – where you have vendor lock-in – doesn’t enable the same degree of innovation. And even for medium sized companies, it can still be very expensive to get the software solution you want.

The world's biggest software companies are embracing open source

The open source model is the antithesis of the monopolistic behemoth model we are accustomed too. The product is free and its ingredients aren’t a secret. This means that software will become the best version of itself because interest, not position, determines who is developing and how they are developing software. Furthermore, because the product is free, companies need to turn elsewhere to make a profit. They do this usually by selling enterprise level support, and I would say that their business model is working. The open source model forces competition by decentralizing power and allowing anyone with talent to get noticed very quickly. This is a recipe for success and there is one sure way to tell: What have Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon and the like been up to recently? Getting started on creating their own set open source tools of course. The titans of industry are now right down with you and me, because they know they would be missing out if they weren’t.

Erik Kappelman wears many hats including blogger, developer, data consultant, economist, and transportation planner. He lives in Helena, Montana and works for the Department of Transportation as a transportation demand modeler.