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www.expresscomputeronline.com WEEKLY INSIGHT FOR TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS
28 March 2005  
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Home - Training - Article

Getting the Linux badge

Red Hat India is ramping up its training services to cater to the demand for Linux professionals

The market is mature and ready for the introduction of specialised high-level programs, as more people are looking to leverage the true potential of Linux in large enterprise deployments.

Shankar Iyer
Head, Global Learning Services
Red Hat India

The hobbyist days where Linux was taught in back rooms populated with ‘geeks only’ is history, with Linux making a headway into the deepest, most critical areas of the enterprise. Today, we see a different classroom culture with people belonging to diverse backgrounds filling up seats for learning Linux.

People are being drawn to Linux primarily because of its rapid rate of evolution. Today, every device under the sun is either running or has the potential to run on Linux—from embedded devices to the fastest supercomputers in the world.

Why train on Linux?

Learning Linux has crossed the chasm from being an “added advantage” to an inherent necessity for anyone looking to survive in the fast changing technology market. To put it simply, technology professionals today understand that Linux is no longer in a ‘good to know’ mode but is moving towards the ‘need to know’ level the way the industry is headed.

With the Linux market now entering the mainstream, HR managers are increasingly demanding certifications, or ‘proof-of-knowledge’ documents from potential recruits. We have been tracking this demand over the years and have found that Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) is the undisputed market leader when it comes to proving Linux credentials to any organisation. An RHCE certification can give a strong definition to an individual’s career, as every HR manager out there knows that the RHCE course involves a tough certification process which only the genuinely skilled can clear. There is absolutely no room for error, and organisations can trust RHCEs on face value, as we carry out the evaluation process for them. Not everyone who opts for an RHCE exam walks out successful. Our examination success rates have averaged around 50 percent and the difficulty only adds to its value.

A new direction

The changing dynamics of the Linux market has affected the very format in which Linux skills are imparted. The courseware itself has seen a dramatic shift over the years. It’s no longer basic Linux skills that corporates and students are interested in. We are seeing a tremendous response for newly introduced high end programs—Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) in particular. The market is mature and ready for the introduction of such specialised high-level programs, as more and more people are looking to leverage the true potential of Linux in large enterprise deployments.

With RHCA, we have raised the knowledge bar by introducing five advanced courses. The new enterprise architect curriculum will allow trainees to develop skills on data centre systems. Students will be able to learn in-depth systems and software management skills designed to enable organisations to scale the deployment of Linux across the enterprise. With hands-on training using multiple servers plus storage arrays or SAN’s, trainees will be able to get a valuable insight into the practical use of power tools available in open source technologies.

With RHCA we are looking to provide in-depth, hands-on training for senior Linux system administrators responsible for the deployment and management of multiple systems in large enterprise environments. It is a capstone certification to Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT), which are among the most sought after certifications available in the Linux space today. The full RHCA curriculum consists of four advanced Enterprise Architect courses and an upper-level security course.

Desktop and open source

Another strong area of focus is desktop training. We are witnessing a growing need to channel Red Hat programs to the grassroots level. Today the curriculum used in Indian academia basically revolves around teaching students the features and functionality of certain proprietary desktop applications available in the market. With brand specific training, educational institutions are endorsing a particular product and not concepts. This is quite a contrary to the academic mission of exposing students to a technology and not a specific product.

With open source software, students can get up close and personal with technology rather than learning proprietary product rulebooks. More and more academic institutions are understanding this principle of keeping their curriculum as vendor agnostic as possible. Red Hat’s Desktop Utility Program is designed to expose students to the power of software applications like word processors, spreadsheets and presentations in everyday applications. The idea is to train students using a simple three-day format on non-proprietary software applications. We also offer a five-day learning programme for people who are migrating from Windows to Linux. Its a course tailor made for users familiar with the Windows environment and allows them to seamlessly adapt to Linux.

Localisation is another factor which is slowly finding its way into our training radar. The growing demand for desktop training is an indicator of things to come. With only 10 percent of the population familiar with English, our localisation efforts at bridging the digital divide are being well appreciated. With e-governance, academia, SMBs and the overall spread of the local language, Red Hat desktop in B&C class cities and the rural sector, a huge demand for Linux training will follow.

With the Linux market growing at a fast clip over the years, we have seen a 100 percent rise in demand for our certifications year on year. The passing percentage has drastically improved, with students now having increased awareness and exposure to Linux. The industry demand for certified Linux professionals was satisfactorily met last year and we are churning out more Red Hat Certified Engineers.

The year ahead

Our goal for 2005-2006 is to train 50,000 students and produce 5,000 certified people for the industry to absorb. To reach out to the length and breadth of the country, we are assisting engineering colleges and technical institutions in building a “Red Hat Academy” within their premises. The resources that we provide include everything from grooming teachers and building specialised curriculum, to supporting projects and assisting in recruitment. For individual schools, we provide software, training materials and assist them in developing customised materials.

Infrastructure

The new partners that we have added to our learning services ecosystem last year include some of the biggest players in the Indian education market—CMS, IIHT and SSI to name a few. Students demand courses that are specialised to become system administrators, network administrators and security administrators. Among the three, security programmes are of great importance to corporates, as the role that Linux plays in building a protected environment is quickly becoming an undisputed fact.

We have established two corporate learning centers in Mumbai and Pune with a total seating capacity of 45 to address the needs of corporates in providing courses on clustering, performance tuning, directory services, GFS and our new Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases. These centres will also function as nodal certification centres and development hubs to churn out corporate instructors certified to impart Red Hat Linux skills.

Today Red Hat India has established 70 partners spread over 300 locations across the country, with 12 large partners, who have signed up last year. Learning services is a part of the end-to-end solution that we offer to corporates, which fits in perfectly into the whole Red Hat ecosystem. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription revenues growing faster than ever, training is all set to become the cornerstone of this ecosystem. The spread of Linux in the enterprise is primarily dependent on the skill levels of the professionals that can run or support this technology.

Today, the open source nature of Linux appeals to those who really want to get into the core of technology. Linux has therefore become the number one choice from a learning perspective for students across the globe.

To conclude, we at Red Hat Learning Services believe that the future of Linux’ tomorrow is in the hands of the students of today, and we shall continue to ensure the fulfilment of that vision.

 


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