Monday, November 13, 2006

Linux Certifications Revisited: RedHat or Novell?

A while ago I posted a listing for Linux certifications that I was looking into, along with a conclusion that all certifications would be benefitual. The next step is choosing an affiliation.

If one is to become a reputable Linux training center, one must build up relationships with the various training organizations out there. This means working with organizations like the Linux Professional Institute, CompTIA, Red Hat, and Novell. But each have their own requirements, making it necessary to timetable the process of becoming a training center very carefully.

In this discussion, I want to look at both Red Hat requirements, and Novell requirements. Both are very exact in what they require, but different in how they deploy their educational material, and therefore their partner programs.

Red Hat
Red Hat is probably alone in the certification program, in that they are not affiliated with any professional testing center for their testing. Instead, they provide it to the training center directly, along with their training materials. Normally that would raise some red flags in my book, but as they are Red Hat, it makes sense. They are also associated with Sun Microsystems (from what I can tell online), as well as IBM, which adds to their credibility. They also have very stringent requirements for their training facilities. Here is what they say in their Certified Training Partners website:
"About Red Hat Certified Training Partners

Delivering and administering the Red Hat Certified Engineer Program entails a great deal of responsibility.

That's why Red Hat, Inc., is very selective in deciding which organizations to authorize as Red Hat Certified Training Partners.

We select only leading training organizations with a strong background in UNIX or other POSIX compatible OS technology, networking, and Internet technologies. Red Hat Certified Training Partners must be committed to quality and integrity, while at the same time being effective at sales and marketing. They must have a reliable delivery capability, so that Red Hat's programs are made available as widely as possible while insuring quality."

Now, I can justify each of these claims, as it is important to keep control of training when dealing with a brand. That name is linked directly to the company, even if they are not directly employed by the company. I remember, while in charge of the training email queue for eBay, how many people complained about non-eBay sanctioned training. Quality control for anything representing the brand is important.

That being said, it requires a contact from Red Hat to explain what a "strong background" is, or why sales and marketing is so important. As of this writing, I have not received a reply as to what level is required to meet the expectations. But, in all fairness, I don't expect a reply within a couple of hours. ^_^

From what I can see initially, there isn't a requirement for the Instructor, other than they should obviously be certified in the course they provide. Instructor requirements are a touchy subject for me, as I feel there is a fine path that needs to be tread in this area.

Every instructor is not the same as the other. Many are just techs that have been asked to teach a course. As anyone who has taken such a course know, a Subject Matter Expert (SME) does not mean a Trainer. Just because you know something about what you are teaching, doesn't mean that you can teach that subject. There are requirements that need to be met, such as understanding the learning style of your students and adapting to those styles. As a trainer, you also need to be able to gauge the understanding of the learners, and organize the subject to suit their experience. It also helps to be able to build upon their experience level in order to help them best retain the information.

Also, it's important to recognize the instructor's abilities and accomplishments. Just because you may not know what they can do, doesn't mean they can't teach. A healthy skepticism is one thing, but to ignore it completely can cause the death of your program within a facility. Recognizing accomplishments, such as technical training certifications or educational degrees, should be considered as important as their technical certifications. While it may not be a guarantee of training ability, if someone has a MAEd or an EdD, chances are they know a little bit about teaching.

Okay, my little tirade is over, now on to the discussion. Red Hat doesn't include any instructor requirements that are easily seen online, so I am awaiting a response from them as to what specifically is available.

Novell
Novell has been getting a lot of bigotted press from the Linux community lately because of their recent deal with Microsoft. Regardless, they have one of the most comprehensive certification programs out there, second only to Red Hat. They also have a very well organized certification program.

The training center is basically the same as with the Linux Professional Institute program. Basic lab requirements, as well as someone that has a clue about teaching. CLP Instructors with educational backgrounds are respected for that, and therefore only need to receive a certification in the subject they are going to teach. They also need to work for a certified training center.

What I really like about Novell is the division between Commercial and Educational facilities. No other organization that I am aware of provides educational training options as well as commercial training options. Generally the Commercial is developed first, while the education facility needs to conform in some fashion.

So, in my research that I have performed, I found that though the Linux community may be a little upset with Novell right now, it's actually easier to be a Training Center for Novell than it is for Red Hat. That opinion may change as I get more information from Red Hat, but as it stands Novell has the lead.

3 comments:

Laszlo said...

I'd like to reflect to your great comparative article.

As far as I know, I'm the only Hungarian "working" RHCI (Red Hat Certified Instructor). The way I've got here wasn't easy: my company picked me because I had earlier training and teaching skills (in a secondary school and in a college, too). Before I became RHCI, I had to prove my skills. First, I've got RHCE entitlement, then I learned almost everything about Red Hat's technologies and solutions, including Enterprise OS, Cluster Suite etc.
Next, I delivered many trainings "in house" for my colleagues, and finally I achieved RHCI and RHCX after a Red Hat training. The whole process took almost one year.

It's true that RH don't have any special requirements but the training partners (who invests a lot of time and money!) select their instructors very carefully.

Believe me, we, RHCIs do a hard work to satisfy our clients :)

Jeremy Robb said...

Thanks for your comment Laszlo! Your input helps satisfy some of the details I have yet to receive from Red Hat.

While I know all instructors are not the same, and I understand that they want to have someone that is high quality, it would be nice if they outline their requirements more specifically.

Laszlo said...

Obviously my comment was not official, so please wait for RH's answer too :)