Where's the Beef? Array of OpenStack Certs Not as Stacked as You'd Expect

Storm front over country road

OpenStack began its life as a joint project undertaken under Open Source auspices back in July of 2010, when hosting provider Rackspace and NASA got things going. OpenStack is meant to simplify access to cloud computing services that run on standard hardware. Gradually, OpenStack has worked its way into various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Debian, as well as on the commercial side through Red Hat. HP also offers the HP Helion OpenStack community, and IBM is getting involved as well.


The OpenStack architecture consists of a collection of modular components that include a cloud computing fabric controller (Nova), scalable and redundant object storage (Swift), block storage services (Cinder), networking (Neutron), a graphical management/status console dashboard (Horizon), the Keystone identity service, the Glance image service, and more.


Hundreds of companies of all shapes and sizes support the OpenStack Foundation (the organization that drives the standards, reference implementations, and related technologies) including most, if not all, of the major names in high technology. (See the OpenStack Companies Supporting page for a complete list).


Given the size of the user base, the level of interest and support, and the number of years that OpenStack has been around, you might expect it to support a reasonably mature and well-developed certification collection. Alas, that is not yet the case, though there are plenty of signs that more offerings are in the offing.


At the moment, however, what's available seems to represent baby steps toward a complete cert infrastructure, rather than a well-trodden path towards multiple levels of skill and technical competence. Here's what I found as I checked in on that cert space to write this post:


1. Training company Mirantis offers training classes and boot camps on OpenStack certifications of their own design, including Associate and Professional levels for their OpenStack Administrator Certification.


2. Red Hat offers the Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator credential in Red Hat OpenStack (RHCSA in Red Hat OpenStack), a mid-tier credential aimed at testing candidate's skills, knowledge and abilities as they relate to creating, configuring, and managing private clouds using the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.


3. Rackspace currently offers a Certified Technician for OpenStack-Icehouse credential, which focuses on utilizing and operating an OpenStack cloud through the command line interface (CLI). Rackspace already also offers classes on Neutron Networking, Compute Essentials (Nova, Glance, Keystone, and Horizon), and Storage (Swift), so it's not unreasonable to look forward to more credentials coming in those areas soon.


4. The Cloud Credential Council doesn't specifically pitch its credentials directly at OpenStack, but its numerous credentials (three associate, five professional) include OpenStack coverage throughout. They also have had an OpenStack working group going since June of 2014, so it's not unreasonable to speculate that it's just a matter of time before OpenStack-focused credentials emerge from this organization. Keep an eye on these guys to see what happens.


5. HP's Helion OpenStack certifications are currently available only to HP Partners, but it's at least possible that they might eventually trickle into their ExpertOne or other openly-accessible cert programs. This December, 2014 article (HP to Offer Independent OpenStack Certification) seems to confirm, or at least corroborate this speculation.


Although this landscape is currently only sparsely occupied, and with mostly entry level or foundation credentials, I see it booming and burgeoning in a big way in the years ahead. This is something you'll want to tune in on from time to time, especially your technical interests or workaday focus involve cloud computing and/or related development efforts.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.