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Update: Red Hat refutes certification lock-in charge

Red Hat announced a new advanced certification today, Red Hat Certified Architect. One training expert, however, cautions that Red Hat certifications can lock administrators in to Red Hat-specific skills.

Red Hat's new Red Hat Certified Architect certification, announced today, raises the bar for current Red Hat Certified Engineers, especially with innovative training in storage management . One expert, however, cautions that Red Hat certifications don't always offer experience that can cross over into diverse Linux implementations.

 The skills learned should be transferrable.
Leigh Day
SpokeswomanRed Hat Inc.

"I like Red Hat a lot and can't say enough about their technology, but I'm worried this may lead to more lock-in to Red Hat [for administrators]," said Ross Brunson director of Linux and Unix education with The Training Camp, a center in Philadelphia that trains and prepares administrators for certification exams.

Red Hat denies these allegations.

"Our training is not designed to promote vendor lock-in. Though these courses are based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the source code for [RHEL] is available to the community via the GPL [GNU General Public License]," said Red Hat spokewoman Leigh Day. "The tools included there are also open source. The skills learned should be transferrable."

An RHCA candidate would have to pass five advanced courses, demonstrating competency in network security, systems management via Red Hat Network, directory services and authentication, storage management and performance tuning and system monitoring.

The RHCA will be offered later this year, Red Hat said today. It is open to RHCEs, another advanced certification that confirms an administrator can administer servers, deliver services and secure a box. It's a performance-based exam done on live systems.

"The Enterprise Architect courses and RHCA will be attractive to companies interested in designing and managing open source architectures. The new courses develop top-level Linux expertise, for architects who design and manage multiple types of systems in complex infrastructures," said Peter Childers, Red Hat vice president of learning services in a statement.

The storage management training offered under the RHCA is new, Day said. Red Hat acquired Sistina Software last year and recently released its global file system source code to open source. Cluster management training is also included.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been recognized by the Free Software Foundation as GPL compliant. We are also LSB (Linux Standards Base) compliant. We take open standards very seriously."

Novell Inc., which acquired the No. 2 Linux distributor SuSE Linux AG this year, recently announced its Novell Certified Linux Engineer cert. Novell also offers administrators the LPI 103 and 203 certifications, add-ons to the vendor-neutral LPI certification from the Linux Professional Institute.

"You have to have mad Linux skills [to be a CLE]," said Brunson. The CLE requires candidates to be LPI certified, take it five-day course and demonstrate competency in installing and administering Novell Nterprise Linux Services in a Linux or heterogeneous IT shop.

Cost is also prohibitive for some of these certifications, Brunson said, with some running more than $2,000 USD a course.

That however, has not waned interest in becoming a certified Linux administrator.

Enrollment for Linux certification classes at The Training Camp, which offers LPI boot camps and Microsoft, Cisco and other certifications, has nearly doubled in the last nine months, Brunson said. Training Camp has no relationship with Red Hat.

"It's been picking up quite a bit," he said. "All of a sudden as soon as [Novell acquired SuSE], we started getting even more interest. And that's what we all hoped for.

Linux+ is also revamping its certification process with course and test rewrites in an attempt to compete with LPI.

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