To help meet a growing demand for IT workers with cloud computing skills, Rackspace Hosting has announced the launch of the Open Cloud Academy. The certificate-granting program, which begins with a pilot training effort, is specifically geared to open-source cloud technologies.
The San Antonio-based Rackspace, which helped launched the increasingly popular OpenStack, said students will be able to "learn in weeks what it takes others years to master." The Academy is located in the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio and encompasses a full floor, with four classrooms, a lounge, a testing space and instructor offices.
Four learning tracks are being offered: Linux Sys Admin, Software Development, Cyber Security and Network Security. Courses will range from six to eight weeks, and the company said about 91 students have enrolled in a free pilot training program. The regular fee is expected to be about $3,500 per track. Rackspace is expected to hire about a third of the graduates, and said it eventually hopes to offer the training online.
The company has previously received a $2.5 million job training grant from the Texas Workforce Commission, in connection with Alamo Colleges, to train 1,000 new and current employees in cloud skills, and it will be hiring the new workers in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas over the next two years. The grant is also being used to create a new online curriculum about cloud-based technologies.
The cloud era, said Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston in a statement, "represents a huge opportunity" but requires a specific skills set to be fully realized. Cloud technology can help companies "reduce IT costs and become more agile," he said, but, unless they have properly trained personnel, "organizations are missing the boat."
In its announcement, Rackspace pointed to research by the Manchester Business School and Vanson Bourne, including a company survey Rackspace had commissioned, that found 66 percent of responding businesses are looking to increase their cloud-related IT skills. However, 56 percent were not aware of any courses to increase the skills of IT professionals. Additionally, the research found that 43 percent of companies were finding it "difficult" to hire IT pros with the requisite cloud computing skills.
OpenStack is an open-source cloud operating system that controls computing, storage and networking resources in a data center, and is managed through a dashboard. It is designed to be used on standard hardware and to accommodate a massively scalable cloud-based system. Recently, IBM announced that all of its cloud services and software would be based on OpenStack, a major endorsement for the platform. Other corporate backers of the OpenStack Foundation include AT&T, Canonical, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat, Cisco, Dell and Yahoo.
The OS began in the summer of 2010, when Rackspace announced it was releasing its code for cloud infrastructure, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said it would provide its open-source cloud computing project, Nebula, to the initiative. Nebula was developed by NASA in 2008 as a way of providing additional data centers for NASA scientists and engineers.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, noted that the "cloud incorporates a lot of technologies and management tools that a lot of IT pros are familiar with," but assembling those technologies into a cloud environment "is not as common."
He added that OpenStack "does seem to be catching hold as a cloud platform," and that it already has a number of major companies behind it. But what's needed to put it over the top in adoption, King said, is backing by at least some of the biggest cloud players, notably Amazon, Google, Oracle and Microsoft.