Red Hat (and Novell) should give training away

That’s right. I think Red Hat and Novell should be giving away (most of) the training they provide for their products. For free. As in beer. Look below the fold for my reasons.

OK, just a reason. Not reasons. Preserving market share.

First let me say that I do have a personal interest here. As a systems architect who continues to perform sysadmin duties there are a lot of things I continue to be ignorant of, particularly when it comes to the best way to do things under the Linux distribution my company uses in the data center. That is, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. But training budgets are tight, and time is short, so there’s pretty much no chance I’m going to get approval to attend any of Red Hat’s advanced training in things like security, development or cloud computing. However, if (much of) that training was available on line, for free, I’d make the time for it.

So why would Red Hat or Novell want to do this?

Here’s why. A word from Novell’s past, mindshare (OK, they actually used to use the term “brainshare”, but that doesn’t work very well in this post “World War Z” world).

A veritable torrent of Ubuntu and other distributions, but mostly Ubuntu, is cascading from the cloud into data centers across the globe. That movement is being driven by developers. Developers who came to love (or at least tolerate) Ubuntu on their desktops and want something familiar on their servers.

I say “their” servers because of a related (and I think hopelessly misread) movement within the Information Technology field called devops. Now I’m not talking about what devops actually is, the tight integration of development and operations processes to improve the efficiency and quality of both systems stability and software delivery. I’m talking about what a lot of IT management thinks it means, the offloading of operational responsibilities onto developers to allow reductions in force of sysadmins.

To be clear, I actually am a passionate advocate of devops. Furthermore, I think that the concept should include a prominent amount of cross-training and responsibility-sharing among developers and sysadmins (like having devs back up admins during production app deployments, as well as for routine maintenance projects, with those roles being switched in dev — yes, I think developers should have operational control over their own development servers).

That upsurge in Ubuntu is a challenge to the bread-and-butter subscription business of both Red Hat and Novell. It is also a challenge for me and sysadmins like me. Simply put, the two big reds and I have the same problem: those developer/admins who don’t know anything about how to manage systems in an enterprise. Red Hat and Novell need to capture their loyalty to stem the Ubuntu tide, and I need to get them educated so they don’t make more work for me.

Both Red Hat and Novell already do an excellent job of conveying enterprise best practices through their training programs, and have been making more and more of their classes available on line. What I think they need to do now is make that training more widely available. Make (most of) it free and they will come.

There’s a saying I just coined while verifying the patching of some systems for Shell Shocker, it goes like this:

“Teach a man to fish and he’ll fish with the same kind of pole you taught him with. Mostly.”

Too long for a t-shirt, but maybe just right for an inspirational poster that could get tacked up on some cubicle walls in marketing.

Needless to say the opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of anyone I work for or at any time in the past worked for, because some of them may not like this particular idea. At least until they figure out how to make it work for them.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).