With Linux implementations, or plans for Linux, at most companies in full swing the availability of talent often becomes an issue: Will we be able to find the people we need? Will they cost more? Is this project worth the extra effort and expense this may entail? What will the availability of talent do to the ROI and TCO numbers? etc.
The good news is the answer (at least for the first question) is: Yes, there is plenty of Linux help out there if you need it.
A few years ago, Linux talent was a relative rarity, but, today, with Linux becoming as mainstream as other operating systems, talent is lot easier to come by.
Of course, it does depend on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are looking for someone to run Apache on a few Web servers, no problem. If you want to port all of your legacy applications over to a Linux cluster, then you might have to do some searching, said Sheila Baker, senior vice president of Marketing for VA Software, which sells open-source development tools to Fortune 500 companies and owns Sourceforge.net.
But, since Linux is based on UNIX, UNIX developers are often more than capable -- with a little retraining -- to handle most corporate Linux needs. Also, the good, hands-on IT folks have probably been dabbling with Linux at home for years and have a good familiarity with it, said Bill Weinberg,Open Source Architecture specialist and Linux evangelist at the Open Source Development Labs.
''In many cases the more motivated ones are doing this on their own time already,'' he said. ''They'll want Linux on their resume in case they go looking or they're doing it at home as a hobby or companies have instigated pilot programs that aren't close to deployment but are getting people ready for that transition.''
Then there are the universities. Expect a large crop of recent computer school grads (as well as night school attendees) to have practical experience with Linux. It is being taught at most major colleges and universities around the globe and has been for the past four or five years, said Weinberg.
The one area where talent may be particularly hard to come by is desktop Linux. But with no mad rush to dump Microsoft, this may or may not be a problem. Also, many of the same people attending school or using Linux at home, are doing so on a Linux desktop and this may help alleviate shortages for help desks.
However, as more and more middleware tools that run on Linux hit the market, shortages for mid-level talent that can do more than run a server but aren't necessarily kernal developers may crop up.