Red Hat pushes certification program amid Linux wave

The enterprise Linux vendor celebrates the tenth year of its certification program as it tries to recruit more training partners.

Linux vendor Red Hat is pushing its certification program and looking to recruit more training partners in light of its ten-year anniversary and increasing Linux uptake.

For ten years Red Hat has offered three levels of Linux certification: Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), and the Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA).

The Web-based training is offered in a variety of corporate packages directly from the company. It is also available through partnering colleges via a modified version called the Academy program.

The Academy program is currently available through just over 10 colleges that include TAFE NSW, Canberra Institute of Technology, the Burnie campus in Tasmania and Chisolm TAFE in Victoria.

General manager for Red Hat in Australia and New Zealand, Max McLaren, said the internationally available certification is particularly popular in Australia.

“We have more Red Hat Certified Engineers per capita then any where else in the world and one of the reasons the certification is so successful here is that we have so many colleges to help us offer it,” he said.

McLaren said that the demand for training is still healthy despite the economic downturn.

“From an uptake perspective, we are seeing more and more people moving away from Unix and now also away from Windows environments to Linux ones. Part of the reason we are still seeing growth is that everyone still needs to keep the lights on and Linux is a good way to do that,” he said.

“The great thing is that not only can we help reduce capital costs but we can also drive down operational costs. With the right skilled people using the management tools that we provide you can generally run a fleet of Linux servers with significantly fewer people than you would need in a non-Linux environment.”

McLaren also admits that the skills are highly transferable and that many Red Hat students will use their skills to run some of the free Linux products that compete with Red Hat.

Linux Users of Victoria vice president Avi Miller agrees.

“Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is probably the widest deployed enterprise Linux distribution and is the basis for other distributions like Oracle Enterprise Linux and CentOS. The skills you learn on the RHCE can be transferred easily,” he said.

In addition to having an RHCE certification, Miller also has Microsoft, Novell and Citrix qualifications under his belt, but believes the main appeal of the Red Hat certification is its practical focus.

“Both the courseware and the exam stress the practical aspects of each task and are clear about when/how/why you would use each element of knowledge. So, it's not just theoretical knowledge. Everything is based on real-world requirements,” he said.

NSW TAFE teacher Kelly Crouch said that the Red Hat Academy program was also exceptionally easy to teach.

“The Red Hat Academy is a fantastic tool for teaching students. It has so much information in the curriculum. All the exercises are there. The students do their practical work on their workstations and the beauty of it is that the academy then grades the work they do automatically, which is very clever.”

Executive director of Creative Contingencies, an open source consulting business, Donna Benjamin also agrees that the certification is more than marketing hype.

Benjamin conducted a survey of LUV members a few months ago asking them about the certifications they had done and how useful each one was.

“The majority of responses indicated that the Red Hat certification was the most widely recognised by employers and recruiters, but also the most widely respected by the professionals themselves," she said.

“From my own perspective, I wish there was an equivalent course and certification for Debian and Ubuntu. Apparently HP offer Debian training for sysadmins using HP hardware, but I've not yet looked into that in depth, and at any rate, our servers are white boxes, or 'in the cloud'. Canonical offers Ubuntu certifications, but they just don't appear to have the same degree of rigour as the Red Hat offerings.”

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