May 5, 2004

Red Hat, Sybase Team on Training

Author: Jay Lyman

Thanks mainly to Unix legacy know-how and successful Linux training efforts thus far, the training and certification processes for Linux in the enterprise datacenter are maturing as well as the operating system itself. At the same time, Linux vendors such as Red Hat are finding more training and services-oriented revenue in the open source world.

The latest effort is coming from Red Hat and Sybase, which are not only teaming on an extended suite of integrated courses for their combo customers, but are also introducing integrated Linux migration training together.

Red Hat Vice President of Global Learning Services Pete Childers said the work with Sybase builds on more than five years of training and certifying Red Hat enterprise Linux users that is conducted throughout 90 locations worldwide, 30 of them in North America.

Childers said Sybase is just the latest company it has partnered with on training and certification, referring to previous and ongoing relationships with other vendors and IT training partners, including Dell, Sun and Global Knowledge.

"The result is we work with some of the strongest partners in IT training who are re-selling our offerings," Childers said. "With each of these, there is a value proposition to the vendors and to the customers that is unique. They all have customers that are enjoying Red Hat's offerings."

For Sybase, the deal is aimed both at maximizing interest in and leverage of its database and data management technology, and at winning Linux hearts and minds.

"For our clients who pursue Red Hat Enterprise Linux environment, we hope that they will see this offering as clear demonstration of commitment to Linux in general, as well as a tool to support their own implementations," said Sybase senior director of worldwide professional services David Weber. "Also, we hope that this can help our clients optimize the technology stack, not only for configuring the operating system but also configuring our technologies in such a way as to optimize performance at multiple levels."

Weber said certification programs are essential to ensure a level of competency,
especially on newer technologies and environments like Linux.

"Both Sybase and RedHat have been recognized for their mature, very comprehensive, and demanding certification programs," Weber added. "We are both interested in ensuring that our clients understand our products to get the most out of the technology."

Yankee Group senior analyst Dana Gardner validated the Weber's claim and said the expansion of training and certification efforts by both companies -- which already offer training services รข makes sense with wider Linux adoption.

"But let's not forget Novell is on their heels," Gardner added, referring to Novell's three-year-old acquisition of training consulting specialist Cambridge, which has now been tuned to provide training services. "With Novell and Red Hat trying to outdo each other in services, the end users are going to benefit from healthy competition."

Gardner indicated that Linux training and certification is "fairly well along" in its evolution and with many Linux and open source pros coming from Unix and other open source backgrounds and activities, the transition is smooth.

"They adapt quickly in the Linux world," Gardner said. "That's an accelerant."

To help them adapt even faster, Sybase and Red Hat said their joint course offerings will be available beginning in mid-June with the launch of a training event series with integrated courseware, labs, instruction, and programs designed with customized content from both companies.

The courses will be offered in New York City, Bethesda, Md., Chicago, and Dublin, Calif. They are aimed at creating a basis for further development and real-world practice for customers seeking Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red hat Certified Technician (RHCT) certs, the companies said.

Childers, who reported that Sybase approached Red Hat and proposed the integrated training partnership, said the timing is now right for the emergence of higher level Linux training and certification.

"One of the things we're doing now is developing training at a higher and higher level," Childers said, referring to steps beyond the RHCE -- a new 400 series of enterprise architect-level training, which is being expanded beyond two initial courses with more planned and reselling from Sybase.

"There's a lot happening at the top, middle and bottom layers of the curriculum curve," Childers said. "This is a certification that means something. Employers are starting to see that and they see that goes hand in glove with their migration."

Childers referred to the beating that certification took during the dot-com bubble because it got oversold. While Unix experts have tended to shy away or belittle certification, they are now realizing the worth of Linux certifications such as RHCE, according to Childers.

Weber said Sybase supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux for many of its products, adding that quite a few Sybase clients are using the company's products in concert with RHEL to build new solutions or migrate existing ones to the platform.

"These clients are interested in optimizing their migrations and technology performance," Weber said. "We believe that our joint education offerings provide these clients with the necessary tools and framework to assist in the development and migration of applications and overall understanding of our products and how they perform on Red Hat Linux."

Weber added the company is pursuing relationships with other Linux vendors and believes that its clients will benefit from and continue to migrate to the system "as Linux operating systems continue to grow as a viable OS technology for hosting and operating business systems."

Childers said Red Hat will continue working with Sybase and other vendors, particularly Dell, to increase both the level and quality of Linux training and certification.

"It's all a natural increase in the amount of stuff we're doing together," he said.

Yankee Group's Gardner said Red Hat and Sybase are both recognizing that a large part of the revenue in open source lies in services and training.

"The whole economy around Linux if you will is tied to services more than it is to code," Gardner said. "Those with a strategy in open source need to adjust their business focus where the revenue is, and that's training and providing services."

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