Solving The OpenStack Talent Gap

We’re in trouble. We’re facing an unprecedented shortage of IT talent in cloud, and in this case, specifically within OpenStack.

In just six months, data pulled from shows an 81 percent increase in job titles and postings that contain the term “OpenStack.” The BSA Global Cloud Scorecard 2013 predicts an estimated 14 million cloud jobs will be created by 2015.

The good news is that due to the rapid proliferation of OpenStack, OpenStack-focused positions pay an average of 13 percent more than their industry equivalents. For example, estimates the salary for a network engineer is $91,000 per year, while an OpenStack network engineer can average $103,000. Engineers, administrators and architects with an OpenStack-focus can expect to earn more, too.

The shortage is overwhelmingly visible at OpenStack Summit Portland, where nearly every company within the ecosystem is actively recruiting at the event. We’re all hiring.

OpenStack is growing so fast that the talent pool is not deep enough to fill the positions available.

In the short term, we have to find better ways to support innovators within our companies and keep them engaged; whether that’s through a dynamic culture, flexible schedules, the opportunity to work on new technologies, advancement opportunities, better pay and other incentives and benefits.

But in the long term we must empower the next generation and create an industry that offers an attractive career path to students.

As a community, we need to work together to not only make our respective companies attractive to interested candidates, but offer training opportunities to OpenStack career hopefuls.

At Rackspace, we’ve recently launched the Open Cloud Academy, an educational program designed to arm students with affordable IT certifications, specifically around open cloud technologies. Additionally, we’re working with universities to offer OpenStack training and internships.

We also need to make technology and OpenStack careers more inviting to women. Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of global market development at Qualcomm, wrote in the article “Women In Technology: Let’s Close The Gap,” that in the past decade, just 12 percent of the professionals in engineering are women. That needs to change – and soon.

Those of us with IT careers need to enable future generations of IT professionals. Ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll hear ambitions of future firefighters, teachers or doctors. The time is now to prepare the next generation for technical careers, whether that means volunteering for organizations such as GirlStart, DefCon Kids, or STEM, or buying the young ones in your life a copy of Python for Kids.

To achieve these goals, I’ve put together a four-point proposal to the OpenStack Foundation:

  1. Create full-time positions for community talent development coordination.
  2. Continue, recognize, fund and promote the Women of OpenStack group.
  3. Create and award scholarships specifically for women and college students to attend OpenStack Summits.
  4. Create an online hub for community talent and women’s resources on

These four steps will go a long way to ensure we reach the right candidates and build an environment that will make OpenStack a more attractive career option.

If OpenStack is going to win, we need to foster talent and get people interested in us.


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