Linux Professional Institute President and CEO Jim Lacey told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that he believes vendor-neutral Linux certifications are becoming more popular and signal a larger trend within IT of area specialization versus proficiency with a single product. Lacey also tells us where he thinks Linux managers face challenges in the enterprise.
SearchEnterpriseLinux.com: Recently, HP announced that it would require LPI certification as a prerequisite for its HP Certified Professional Program. What are the trends in Linux certification? Which certification sets have fared well in the Linux marketplace?
Jim Lacey: Linux and open source are becoming more entrenched in larger organizations, and the consistent growth of the LPI organization over the past eight quarters is evidence of that. One of the reasons we are seeing growth is because we aren’t allied with a certain product. Our programs are vendor independent.
Vendor-neutral certification is becoming more important. As things become more ubiquitous, it’s becoming more difficult to standardize on any one product or platform; people are becoming more IT focused in different areas rather than skilled with specific products. Whether you started out on Unix or Windows, you really need a wide variety of skills. Obviously, professionals working in markets that are most saturated, such as the Windows certification markets and even in the server market, aside from the [professionals with] power-user certifications, are looking to expand their skill set. Vendor-independent certifications are really starting to take hold, and that’s where we are seeing some of the growth coming from in the IT space.
SEL: So if certifications have become less product oriented, how do people track their professional development? Are they following specialized area interests in, say, virtualization or Web services?
JL: Definitely. This is one of the things that we are starting to see, as people become more familiar with the technology. To address these more specialized areas, LPI launched the LPI Level 3 certification in January 2007. As we took our questions to the global marketplace, we heard that operating in a mixed environment was important to enterprise customers. More specialization occurs at the top, in different vertical areas, such as virtualization and also security, Web services, mail and messaging. These areas can become much more vertical in the future, especially in mixed environments.
SEL: How are Linux administrators using these certifications?
JL: At the higher levels of certification, people who are more senior in the enterprise with three or more years of experience with Linux in a corporate environment are moving into more mission-critical areas.
In years past, people were certainly using Linux, sometimes unbeknownst to the CEO and CIO of their organization, because it was solving print services or Web services problems. But now that it has become more entrenched, people are looking to upgrade what their Linux OS does or Linux environment does. And that’s why you’re seeing success in the Linux IT space, with products like Sugar CRM being deployed, proving its value. Others are also making that same transition.
SEL: What challenges do you see facing Linux managers in the enterprise-level IT space?
JL: Even if a manager is working on a mission adoption curve, a disruptive technology such as Linux or open source always presents a challenge. I think that the biggest challenge is in the amount of applications available. As companies look to migrate, they are looking to user-end applications. Security, portability and scalability are also to be addressed.
When you look at the trends for North American enterprises with between $50 million and $1 billion in revenue, whether they’re in applications, servers, database management or software development, more than 50% of these companies are doing something with open source, including widespread adoption, limited adoption, and evaluating a pilot. And in the enterprise, we are seeing a growing wave in services. As more funding goes behind services, open source usage in companies trends upward.
Some of the figures to which Lacey referred to can be found in the following reports:
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