Wednesday, July 10, 2013

As the tide goes out, it carries Microsoft

There is a definite sea change in the IT space. There was a time when you couldn't get fired for buying Microsoft products, but that time may be gone or on the way out. According to the latest news, Netflix has dumped Exchange and other onsite application servers for Google Apps and other cloud based infrastructure.

Netflix is making the change to simplify their operations, as many companies like to do. I think that Netflix's move is evidence of a sea change, a much greater trend. Netflix is not alone in moving away from Microsoft to the cloud. Most of the cloud runs on Linux. Why is that important?

Late last year, the Linux Foundation released a survey of Linux use among the Fortune 500 companies, companies that gross better than $500 million in business or had 500 or more employees. The survey found that 8 of 10 respondents were planning on adding new Linux servers. There is also evidence that Windows 8 is driving the enterprise to Linux as well.

Google, IBM, Amazon, eBay, Twiiter and Netflix all use Linux. There are many more, too numerous to name here, but suffice it to say that the biggest companies in the world use Linux. The vast majority of the cloud computing space runs on Linux.

Linux skills are also in very high demand. If you're a professional Linux user, then you know already that your skills will fetch a much higher salary than if you were an expert in Windows. Linux skills are hard to find, so if you have them, you're in good company. If you want them, training is not that hard to find. It's just a question of time and money. Dice.com is where techs can go to find jobs and Dice reports that demand for Linux skills is higher than ever.

As someone who has been using computers for more than 30 years, and having watched Microsoft almost completely eliminate choice in the operating system market, I'm pleased to see these trends emerging. One big reason why Apple is still alive today is that Microsoft made a token investment in Apple to keep it alive - mainly to avoid further antitrust scrutiny. Linux arose because a small but determined group of people wanted an alternative to proprietary software. They wanted software freedom.

So, if you're still in high school or college and you have any interest in computers as a profession, learning Linux will put you years ahead of the competition. If you're an adult who's been working Windows for most of your career, beware: if you don't know Linux in 5 years, you may be limiting your earning potential.
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