As cloud computing, and the need for qualified individuals to operate and manage cloud environments, grows rapidly, Red Hat is launching a new training program as well as the Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Infrastructure as a Service to help teach and certify skilled professionals.
Red Hat is well-known as a Linux vendor and is also among the leading contributors to the open-source OpenStack cloud platform. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform became generally available in July and the new training and certification will support that product effort, as well.
Training and certification has long been a core part of Red Hat's overall solution set with the respected Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) program nearing its 15th year of existence. The new cloud certificate is a bit different from a full-blown RHCE.
"Red Hat Certificates of Expertise are earned by passing hands-on, practical exams similar to the ones taken to earn Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) and Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)," Iain Gray, vice president of services at Red Hat told eWEEK. "The principal difference between something with 'Red Hat Certified' in the title and Red Hat Certificates of Expertise is that the Certificates of Expertise tend to be more narrowly specialized and represent a more specialized subset of skills within an IT role."
The Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform relies on enterprise Linux as its core and, as such, the RHCSA and RHCE designations play a role in the overall skill set that IT professional should consider.
"Given a choice between two job applicants, one with just the new Certificate of Expertise, and another with that plus an RHCSA or RHCE, I would view the latter as having proven a larger set of technical skills," Gray said. "That does not necessarily mean that the other candidate lacks them, but it does come down to what has actually been demonstrated and proven by a rigorous, unbiased process."
While Red Hat's new certificate of expertise is all about OpenStack, the name OpenStack is not in the actual name of the Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Gray said that Red Hat prefers for credential titles to emphasize what a person can do rather than mapping it to a product name. Red Hat's certification verification app on Certification Central does report the specific technologies and releases on which someone's credentials were earned, he added.
To gain the new cloud certification, IT pros need to pass the Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Infrastructure-as-a-Service Exam (EX210). Gray explained that anyone is eligible to take the exam, and it is not a requirement that someone attend training.
"Nevertheless, I do recommend training for most people interested in earning this credential," Gray said. "Trial and error can be an effective way to learn, but it is seldom the most efficient."
Red Hat offers classroom training today on this subject matter worldwide and will be expanding that to virtual training and self-paced online training very soon, Gray said.
In terms of the questions that IT professionals should expect on the cloud exam (EX210), Gray said that Red Hat exams seldom have questions in the typical sense. Instead, examinees are given a set of tasks to accomplish.
"For the Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in IaaS Exam, those tasks involve essential aspects of installing, configuring and managing an IaaS environment using Red Hat OpenStack," Gray said.
A list of exam objectives is available here.
As OpenStack is a relatively new and rapidly evolving technology, one of the main challenges for the Red Hat training and certification will be keeping up the pace. Gray commented that hands-on testing (sometimes called performance-based testing) is a rather engineering-intensive approach compared with the commonplace multiple choice.
"If a technology is rapidly evolving, it means that all that engineering we create in support of the exam and certificate must likewise evolve," Gray said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.