Andy Karandikar from Red Hat, the Opensource products organization, talks on how Linux certifications are becoming ever more relevant in strengthening IT’s increasingly strategic role in the enterprise.
As IT starts becoming a lot more strategic partner to the businesses and as the maturity of the Indian business increases, Linux will play a very critical role.
Tell us why Linux certifications are important in the present IT landscape.
While we produce world class opensource products at Red Hat, it is very important that the industry recognizes its benefits for it to be adopted in the marketplace. We also need to ensure that there are enough skills out there for our customers and partners to adopt these technologies in their environments. This is why Linux certifications play a very critical role within our business environment.
In the Indian market, we realized training and certifications is an area we needed to invest in and for the past decade and more we have put in a very rigorous environment around Linux based certifications. Till date the program is among the most differentiated and has created tremendous value for all concerned.
These certifications are performance based programs and have a healthy mix of theory and practical training. This includes giving the trainees a broken system and asking them to fix it with the relevant performance tunings. This program has been extremely successful for us commercially and has also attracted a lot of awards. The pull from the marketplace for qualified Linux professionals and the sheer quality of the program has drawn in a lot of attention to our certification programs.
Why has Linux certification become relevant today more than ever before?
Linux started off as a poor man’s Unix more than a decade ago. That position has now changed significantly. Today, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has exceeded the capabilities of traditional workhorses such as Unix not just in terms of features but also in terms of RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability).
Recent analyst reports also suggest that Unix is dying and the only serious option is Enterprise Linux. A lot of organizations are also looking at moving not just their edge systems but also their mission critical systems onto the cutting edge X86 and the Linux platform. And as IT starts becoming a lot more strategic partner to the businesses and as the maturity of the Indian business increases, Linux will play a very critical role. In the early days IT was more around the periphery but today this has expanded into other areas such as virtualization, cloud, and even application development where these certifications are very relevant.
At what seniority levels do these certifications make more sense?
With our range of Linux certification programs, we do not cater to the low-end at all. We essentially deal with the mid-level and advanced professionals. In that, we offer a lot of courses ranging from system admins, virtualizations admins, and network admins, to datacenter specialist, security specialist and architect level specializations. An entry-level guy could go for a system admin course while professionals who have been in the system long enough will see value in doing certifications like the DC specialist or the security specialist.
Who is responsible for bridging the skills gap that come up with most new technologies- vendors, SIs or educational institutions?
It’s a combination of all three – it is not one or the other. Depending on the type of technology and the lifecycle that we talk about, I feel the responsibility changes. With the vendor, there is clearly an economic model in place. While there is an undeniable social angle, the focus is on bringing out new technology and driving the adoption of these products in the marketplace. So it is the responsibility of the vendors to continuously innovate and bring out new products and in the interest of the adoption of their technologies they should help in developing the relevant skills that will aid in its consumption.
When you talk about creating the right foundation for the next generation of technologists- that is not necessarily an area that vendors would excel in. They might have some influence in this regard but at the end of the day, vendors are driven by the financial aspects of the business and this is where the universities play an important role. Especially technologies that are not tied to a particular product, new trends and latest standards are areas where universities and colleges play a critical role.
The SI partners also carry a responsibility since they are competent enough to pick and choose the right set of technologies for their customers and partners and not blindly accept what the vendors are trying to push. So their internal training mechanisms and an understanding of what training to undergo is important.
Do you see any evidence pointing at an uptake for Opensource products in India?
To us the evidence is really in the growth our business has experienced in the Indian market. At Red Hat the training and certification business is run as a separate P&L from the subscription or the product business.
A good indicator for us is the growth in these businesses and we are seeing a phenomenal growth in both parts of our business. In the last year we have signed up more number of large network training partners and boutique partners who want offer trainings in the corporate space. If there wasn’t significant demand for such skills then this wouldn’t be happening and we wouldn’t be getting so many partnership requests.