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Red Hat is proud to announce the global availability of its newest certification - Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) in Red Hat OpenStack. This new certification will allow individuals who earn it to differentiate their deeper and broader skills in the market and will help organizations identify the professionals who can lead them to a successful Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform implementation.

What makes this credential different from other OpenStack certifications?
The Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) in Red Hat OpenStack is a unique credential in the OpenStack space. It builds upon Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) in Red Hat OpenStack and both, as with all Red Hat certification exams, are hands-on, practical exams. The Red Hat certification program is the only program certifying to this level completely through performance-based testing. If you wonder whether this approach to testing matters, ask yourself this the next time you board a plane: would you rather that the pilot have proven his or her skills by actually flying a plane or by answering a multiple-choice quiz about flying planes?

The scope of the RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack exam is also unique. The focus is on two key technologies: software-defined networking using Neutron and software-defined storage using Red Hat Ceph Storage. To understand why these are important you must consider why organizations are interested in implementing OpenStack in the first place.

The objective is to build a self-serve IT infrastructure that can adapt continuously to new requirements and hasten the pace at which IT projects and innovation come to fruition. The key word here is "infrastructure". Providing users a self-service means of spinning up new servers is only part of the solution. It will also be necessary to provide a self-service facility to create virtual networks among these systems, sometimes involving complex network topologies and policies. Alternately stated, the absence of self-service virtual networking would leave you with a cloud that is still subject to some of the constraints found in older IT architecture and organizational models.

A similar situation exists with storage. A cloud requires a place to keep images and a means for providing persistent block storage to those images once they are launched. While not part of the OpenStack project per se, Ceph has nevertheless gained mindshare as the preferred means for providing distributed, scalable and fault-tolerant block, object and file storage to OpenStack implementations. As with networking, the absence of a flexible, software-defined solution for storage means leaves your cloud implementation with potential bottlenecks around basic questions of storage and persistence that could limit getting what you want out of a cloud implementation in the first place.

Someone who has earned RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack has thus proven real-world skills that are critical to making an OpenStack implementation successful. A cloud is not just about spinning up servers. It is about spinning up infrastructures.

Why would someone go to Red Hat rather than to an organization that claims to be vendor-neutral?
There are several answers to this question. The first lies with the answer to a broader question: why go to a vendor for an open source technology in the first place?

Enterprises worldwide come to Red Hat for open source technologies because Red Hat makes open source consumable for the enterprise. Things like support, services, hardware certifications, software certifications, compatibility, upstream influence, quality assurance – the list is long. Fundamentally, enterprise organizations typically have requirements that cannot be met by just cloning a git repository. Having Red Hat in the picture allows IT organizations to focus business priorities and strategic efforts rather than figuring out how to stitch an assortment of independent technologies together and maybe make them work. Red Hat removes the "maybe".

Consequently, if an organization sees value in having Red Hat as a vendor, it follows that a certification program focused on the technology an organization is using will be of more benefit than one claiming an abstract principle of neutrality. Organizations will choose a particular implementation – whether a vendor or some community project – and any certification program it uses in its hiring and management processes should be aligned to their choice. That choice will often be Red Hat so the certification should be, too.
It also bears mention that OpenStack never exists in isolation. It exists to create infrastructures. The infrastructures exist to support applications. The applications exist to support business needs. A certification program that is only about OpenStack is a fable without a moral to the story at the end. Red Hat certifies across technologies needed by the modern enterprise, from the hypervisor on up to enterprise application frameworks -- not just OpenStack. That means that Red Hat certification provides a broader service to managers and recruiters and better professional opportunities to the people who are certified.

Consequently, someone seeking opportunities for working with OpenStack is at an advantage with a Red Hat certification because Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform is the growing choice in the enterprise and because "Red Hat Certified" is a phrase that is familiar and, more importantly, meaningful to the people in a position to recruit and hire.


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About the author

Randy Russell is the director of Certification and leads the team that develops and delivers Red Hat's certification programs and exams.  A long-time proponent of performance-based testing, he has served on the board and as president and chairman of the Performance Testing Council, as well as having presented on this subject and others at industry conferences such as the Association of Test Publishers, the European Association of Test Publishers, CeDMA and TSIA.

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