Report Cites Lack of Open Source Skills As a Barrier in Enterprises

by Sam Dean - Aug. 10, 2011Comments (2)

If you ask many IT administrators what troubles them about open source software, many of them will cite lack of support and adequate documentation. This has been true for years, but it's also true that in recent years most popular open source projects have surprisingly rich support and documentation options available for them. A new post on InfoWorld, though, suggests that skilled workers and training resources for open source projects are lacking. Could the answer be an industry body dedicated to filling that gap?

InfoWorld reports:

"Projects are multiplying, yet a shortage of in-house skills could slow them down...the tools [open source security applications in this case] are more difficult to master than their commercial counterparts, and it might take a year to become really comfortable with some of them."

 As we've reported, free training and documentation resources for open source projects have proliferated in recent years. Likewise, organizations like The Linux Foundation and commercial open source companies such as Red Hat offer substantial training resources, many of them free. Still, InfoWorld cites niche security applications in conjunction with a lack of in-house skills at many companies, and this is a good point.

Could a dedicated third-party company, charging minimal amounts for training for open source software make a difference? Companies such as OpenLogic and Credativ are already focused on the goal, but their messages don't seem to be reaching enterprises en masse. There is still the perception that deploying open source software means accepting a training and support abyss. Companies such as Microsoft take lots of criticism from the open source community for their dominance in enterprises, but the training and support issue is a big part of why Microsoft is dominant there, rather than free, open source solutions.

This is an open source conundrum that has yet to be solved properly.

Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Thank you for the interesting article. I wonder whether it's just more training opportunities we need in the Open Source world to make the software more attractive to companies.

For instance, let's take the basic needs of every company to provide network infrastructure services, file and printing services and a user management. What does it take to build such an basic set up? Bind, ISC DHCP, Samba, NFS, CUPS, OpenLDAP and more. Configuring these services takes a really experienced administrator. When I start thinking about multiple servers it gets even more difficult and keeping everything up to date is nearly impossible.

To be honest, I haven't used the Microsoft stack for administrating computers, but I appears to me that they provide products not just software. And the products play together. Compared to building everything from scratch like it is with most Linux distributions this really is an appealing offer.

Why not playing in the same league? Offering more decently priced Open Source products with support and consulting that take away the pains of no GUI, no standards and too much complexity in configuration, wouldn't that be a good addition to more training centers?

At least we at Univention ( are experiencing just that.


Jan Christoph

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These themes only trouble IT admins about open source, because many IT admins are largely incompetent. They lack any ability to reason for themselves, and are largely incapable/unwilling to solve any problem that they have not been 'trained' to solve. The reason they fear open source, is because they will become redundant, in the new lower admin cost environment, with which they are not familiar.

Linux _IS_ a much easier platform to administer for competent people.

All of the settings are in simple text files, which makes writing administrative scripts, cloning, and updating multiple systems much easier.

How would I do the same easily on Windows? I was the single Windows 2000 admin for a small company for about 1.5 years, before leaving university, and I can tell you, it is a horrible platform for any kind of central administration. I now develop commercial retail software, and do occasional sysadmin for our team (things like samba, clearcase, web server, database servers, posfix/sendmail [not so easy...]), so I do have lots of experience of this. I have also set up MS compute cluster/HPC server, which links with AD, and is the worst, least usable HPC platform I have ever seen (NUMA on Windows also sucks badly) We don't even use the MS tools on HPC server, preferring Intel MPI only.

Central software installation is also MUCH easier on Linux/UNIX.

Windows software often has to be repackaged for central installation. This is a real pain. Windows is just not built for large corporate environments. The clients are all burdened by huge boot scripts, virus checkers, and software to manage software deployment and auditing. The whole environment is a teetering nightmare of third party complexity.

It is all very well to have lots of GUIs, but I find that they actually add to the effort required for system admin.

Most Linux variants will work 'out of the box' for Samba, NFS, DNS, DHCP, basic mail services, LDAP, various routing tasks, and numerous other applications. It is only necessary to enter a few trivial details to make things like DNS, Samba, DHCP, and OpenLDAP work. I'm a developer, not an admin (although, at one time, I was the Win2k admin for a small company) - and I can make it work. Real IT 'professionals' should certainly not have any trouble, or they really should be finding another job.

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