Alan Clark, chairman of the board of the OpenStack Foundation, discusses the perceived skills gap and opportunities for training.


We’re at a point in the adoption of OpenStack where the enterprise need cannot be questioned. When there is a business requirement to be met, there’s a natural need to increase the skills of professionals who can implement and deploy OpenStack seamlessly.

There is much data that confirms enterprise IT intent to adopt cloud, but a recent survey among IT professionals across Europe and the United States highlights that training continues to be a significant barrier for cloud adoption. Take the Dynamic Markets survey for example, which states “86 percent of respondents said the lack of skills in the market is making their companies reluctant to pursue private cloud. In addition, 78 percent of companies that have yet to adopt private cloud are deterred by the skills shortage.”

Such a large percentage demonstrates that the need for an industry-accepted training and certification program is real and that the lack of skills is a dramatic barrier to cloud adoption. Knowledge is a gateway to opportunity. The lack of education is a loss to not only the enterprise but also to the future careers of many IT and cloud-related employees.

Some people refer to this situation as a “skills gap,” we see it as a tremendous opportunity to serve a critical market. Training and certification is a quantifier of IT knowledge. For an individual, training and certification provides a path to prove that he/she has a requisite set of job skills. It differentiates candidates within the hiring process. It supports and validates job promotions and raises. Also within our world of fast-paced innovation, it’s evidence that a person is up to date on the latest industry innovations and change that has occurred.

The OpenStack Foundation recently announced the intent to develop a cloud administration certification program. The Certified OpenStack Administrator exam offers a “Certification for OpenStack professionals.” It will cover the heart and soul of cloud, including identity management, management compute, storage, networking, metering and monitoring, orchestration and troubleshooting. This certification will quickly become a de jure industry standard for cloud.

Such a standard isn’t a slight to the many OpenStack vendors and professional training providers who currently offer a vendor-branded cloud certification. This source of training and certification, though somewhat duplicative in content, plays a crucial role in the growth and adoption of cloud.

For example, vendor certifications are of great value to the enterprises that are leveraging that vendor’s technology and products. Vendor certifications provide confidence and assurance that an enterprise and vendor partners can properly deploy, diagnose, support and manage technologies. Typically, cloud certification is but a part of a vendor’s overall certification program.

On the other hand, the OpenStack Foundation certification is vendor neutral and plays a very significant role in the standardization of cloud. Such a program will automatically be recognized by the OpenStack community, members and ecosystem as a vendor-neutral certification that is created by the community for the community. Due to the global breadth of the OpenStack ecosystem, this certification will be quickly propelled as a globally recognized industry standard for cloud certification. A standard that global companies, institutions and governments are looking for.

Such a standard will remove the training barrier that exists today. Particularly as the vendors embrace the Foundation program aligning their training and testing to reduce duplication of testing. Such a change will facilitate additional growth and education.

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