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Extend open source collaboration techniques to skills development

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(left to right) Muggie van Staden, MD at Obsidian Systems; Brian Perrins, Channel Sales Manager at Talend; and Abhas, EMEA Lead, Customer Innovation and Strategy at Hortonworks.
(left to right) Muggie van Staden, MD at Obsidian Systems; Brian Perrins, Channel Sales Manager at Talend; and Abhas, EMEA Lead, Customer Innovation and Strategy at Hortonworks.

The skills shortage in South Africa could possibly be addressed by organisations extending their willingness to collaborate as part of the open source community to collaborating on skills development and training.

That's the view of Muggie van Staden, MD of open source software provider Obsidian Systems, who said that rapid skills development was particularly important in non-traditional IT areas such as big data - and open source big data in particular.

He was speaking at a breakfast roundtable hosted by Obsidian Systems, Talend and Hortonworks in Johannesburg this week (Monday), to announce Obsidian Systems' appointment as a reseller partner to Talend, a global open source platform and architecture provider. Talend's products and services, which enable open source technology to benefit from big data, are utilised by more than 1 700 enterprise customers around the world.

As a result of its reseller distribution agreement, Obsidian, in conjunction with Talend and Hortonworks - the provider of Open Enterprise Hadoop - is introducing a real-time, big data integration solution to South Africa.

"We are delighted to have entered into a reseller distribution agreement with Talend. Technology services and experience of this calibre add exceptional quality to our stack offering," said Van Staden.

The answer to skills shortage: collaboration

Turning to the perennial issue of the shortage of skills in South Africa, Van Staden warned that organisations could not simply keep trying to poach the skills they needed from their competitors.

"We have to find new ways to grow the skills base in South Africa and build skills not just within the universities but also within the user organisations themselves. Collaboration between competitors - who already collaborate informally as part of the open source community - could be the answer," he added.

Brian Perrins, channel sales manager at Talend, said that the skills shortage was not a purely South African problem, particularly when new technologies like open source and big data were involved.

Obsidian, in conjunction with Talend and Hortonworks - the provider of Open Enterprise Hadoop - is introducing a real-time, big data integration solution to South Africa.

Talend would often bring in outside resources to try to build the skills base within its customers' organisations. "The fact that Talend is self-coding so users don't have to be coding experts certainly helps, but even so, training is not a substitute for expertise - and we provide the expertise," he added.

Abhas, EMEA Lead, Customer Innovation and Strategy at Hortonworks, noted that big data required a different, non-traditional set of skills to that usually found in IT organisations.

"The open source community will ensure that OSS outstrips proprietary when innovation is required. Hortonworks finds it has to provide large organisations with everything they need to upskill their people to get the most of the technology.

"As the uptake of this technology increases, young people outside the large, early adopters, will gravitate towards it and the skills base will increase. This, in turn, will drive the adoption curve of the technology," he said.

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