Red Hat Certifications Help Rackspace Deliver its Legendary Fanatical Support on a Global Scale

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November 11, 2011

Customer: Rackspace Hosting

“To keep providing our trademark Fanatical Support® to [this] growing population of Linux customers, we expect our involvement in Red Hat certification programs to accelerate in coming years.” – Phil Hopkins, Rackspace Hosting

Geography: North America
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

To provide customers with Fanatical Support; keep employee knowledge and skills up-to-date with continual training

Solution:

Red Hat certification programs

Software:

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®

Benefits:

Enhanced customer satisfaction; improved customer loyalty; increased employee expertise; streamlined hiring

More
Background:

Founded in 1998, Rackspace Hosting is a leading provider of enterprise-class IT hosting and cloud computing services. Powered by its commitment to Fanatical Support, the San Antonio, Texas-based company serves more than 152,000 customers around the globe, including half of the Fortune 100. Rackspace currently runs nine datacenters and employs more than 3,700 “Rackers,” whose dedication to delivering world-class customer service vaulted Rackspace into a leadership position in Gartner#39;s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting.

Business Challenge:

Over the past dozen years, Rackspace has built a stellar reputation in the IT hosting industry by using leading technologies to deliver world-class IT services that are backed up by its commitment to provide “Fanatical Support.” Fanatical Support means that each and every Rackspace customer—whether a small mom-and-pop retailer or a Fortune 100 global manufacturing conglomerate—has its needs met in a highly personal, professional, and timely manner.

Because Fanatical Support starts with providing only the best technology to customers, Rackspace selected Red Hat as a strategic technology partner very early on and has for years offered Red Hat Enterprise Linux to customers as a reliable and flexible open source platform capable of meeting all their IT infrastructure needs. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has proven to be a popular service offering for Rackspace, which currently manages Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based environments for more than 100,000 businesses.

But Rackspace knew that simply making Red Hat Enterprise Linux available wasn’t enough to meet its support standards. It had to possess sufficient expertise to be able to answer any questions or fix any issues that arose. To ensure that Rackers had the deep expertise required to deliver Fanatical Support, Rackspace decided to take advantage of Red Hat certification programs.

“Certifications play a vital role in demonstrating our expertise—both with existing customers, and when developing new business—as well as ensuring that we have the necessary in-house knowledge and skills to deliver on our promise of ‘Fanatical Support,’” said Phil Hopkins at Rackspace. “The Red Hat certification program has proved invaluable on all these fronts.”

Solution:

Red Hat created its certification program to validate those individuals who possess deep knowledge of and hands-on skills for Red Hat products. Consisting of extensive training courses and in-depth, performance-based testing, the Red Hat certification program helps organizations looking to hire technical workers with official and independent recognition of an applicant’s Red Hat expertise. Because all Red Hat certification testing requires students to perform real-world tasks similar to those they would perform in an actual IT environment, individuals with Red Hat certifications can be trusted in the most advanced or sensitive IT support roles. Certifications include Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), and Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA).

Today, Rackspace has a large number of employees who already possess the core Red Hat system administration certification, the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA). More than 200 Rackers have earned the senior certification of Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), which means the company has more RHCEs than any other hosting company in the world. Additionally, more than 30 other Rackers—including Hopkins—have begun training for their Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) certifications, which requires them to pass five upper-level exams on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

“We chose to go a step further with the RHCA exams to provide our technicians with an added skill level,” said Hopkins. “It’s very difficult training—it definitely keeps you busy studying—but we know that it’s worth the extra effort.”

Benefits:

Rackspace has benefited from the Red Hat certification program in three distinct ways.

First, it has significantly streamlined the hiring process. “When we see that a candidate has an RHCE, we don’t ever question their Linux expertise,” said Hopkins. True, there are other Linux certification programs, he said, but in most of those, participants merely go through so-called “boot camps” in which they memorize answers to a set number of questions. “You can’t do that with Red Hat tests,” he said. “You have to know what you’re doing. You have to have practical knowledge and hands-on skills. In the Linux world, no other exam can compare.”

Secondly, customers—and potential customers—feel more confident when they know Red Hat certified Rackers will support them. “Customers recognize the quality of certifications. Whether they’re concerned about how we’ll handle potentially challenging scenarios, or whether we’ll configure their systems properly, they relax when they hear they’ll be working with Red Hat certified support professionals,” said Hopkins. “The fact that we have so many RHCEs on staff helps us demonstrate that we have the most skilled technicians and systems administrators in the industry.”

Finally, Red Hat certification contributes to the Rackspace culture of constantly striving for greatness. “Within Rackspace, there’s a lot of peer pressure to get your RHCE,” said Hopkins. “It might not be a written policy, but it’s a de facto expectation that to advance along your career track you need to get the RHCSA and RHCE. We find that our Linux technicians are eager to get as many Red Hat certifications as they possibly can, so we’re constantly growing and adding to our training offerings.”

In the future, Rackspace’s commitment to Red Hat certification will only grow. “We have tens of thousands of Linux servers that run Red Hat products, and that number continues to expand exponentially,” said Hopkins. “To keep providing our trademark Fanatical Support to this growing population of Linux customers, we expect our involvement in Red Hat certification programs to accelerate in coming years.”

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