While attending the conference last week, I had the opportunity to moderate back-to-back sessions on raising the profile of Linux among the solution provider community. One outspoken attendee kept coming back to the issue of raising the level of basic Linux skills and focus as a precursor to true success in the SMB community. His point was that even though Linux has amassed an impressive following at the university level—one that will, in my opinion, come back to haunt Microsoft in five or so years—vendors aren't doing enough right now to light the way.
To be sure, dabbling in Linux isn't going to line your pockets with gold. A recent survey by CRN's sister group, the Institute for Partner Education & Development, pointed to a definitive and not-so-surprising correlation between the investment a VAR or systems integrator makes in Linux skills and the revenue it drives from Linux-inclusive solutions.
The Linux vendor community is coming around to the fact that it must make it simple (and inexpensive) for solution providers to become knowledgeable about their products. Red Hat, for example, last week launched a channel-specific promotion in which it slashed the price for JBoss technical training by 30 percent. Hewlett-Packard has assembled open-source middleware stacks for its elite partners, along with training. Relative newcomers Levanta and GroundWork Open Source, meanwhile, both of which are tackling the Linux
management issue, have made training and side-by-side skills development a major part of their respective channel programs.
On a broader basis, the Linux Professional Institute flipped the switch on an employment database for open-source professionals who have been trained and certified in various Linux disciplines (not just LPI's exams). A pilot will take place in North America, Latin America, China, India and Germany
The Linux community has a long way to go if it is to match the ubiquitous nature of Windows skills. But it has finally recognized that it will take more than grassroots passion to compete effectively with Windows at the commercial level.
Are you training on Linux? CRN Editor HEATHER CLANCY welcomes your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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