IBM's recently announced acquisition of Red Hat is set to close mid-2019, so channel partners not providing a wide range of open-source technologies to clients might consider getting up to speed soon so they can offer new services and bring in additional revenue.
That's especially if channel partners are already working with IBM or Red Hat individually. The new alliance of the two IT powerhouses will likely make it possible for additional revenue streams and new opportunities in the open-source market.
To help with that transition, open source groups such as The Linux Foundation provide tools, training and events across a wide range of open-source projects to help build and mature open-source ecosystems and communities for enterprise IT.
One such course is an Introduction to Open Source Development, Git and Linux, which is an online, self-paced course that provides a rich curriculum of open-source education for developers who are just starting out with the technologies. The $299 course, offered through the nonprofit Linux Foundation, includes training on open-source software, along with an introduction to Linux systems and lessons on how to use the online Git revision control system.
The course, known as LFD201 in the Linux Foundation's course catalog, is an overview about how open-source software works, its advantages compared to proprietary software, descriptions of how to work within open-source communities, governance models, licensing choices and more.
Linux system lessons include installation; desktop environments; text editors; important commands and utilities; command shells and scripts; file systems; and compiling software. The lessons for Git use include an introduction to Git and explanations about how to work within an open-source community, how to post code, and a wide range of other details on using Git to operate efficiently within a project.
The online course, which requires a physical or virtual Linux environment, is made up of 43 hands-on lab exercises where students can practice their skills, as well as as quizzes and more than 20 videos demonstrating important tasks. The course is aimed at experienced computer users and developers of other operating systems who have little or no experience working in a Linux environment, or for those with some Linux experience who seek deeper knowledge about using Git.
Clyde Seepersad, general manager of training and certification for The Linux Foundation, told Channel Futures that the introductory open source and Linux course provides a broad overview of open-source structure and capabilities in a self-paced environment.
"This is the first course [from the Foundation] that has been specifically targeted at getting started as a developer in open source," he said. The group also offers a wide range of other beginner and advanced training courses on other open-source platforms and technologies, including 14 different beginner-level courses on Linux, blockchain, networking, cloud, Kubernetes, OpenStack, Hyperledger and more. Many of the beginner courses are available for free to students who want to take them, he added.
Channel partners and other IT businesses that want to enroll multiple students can also take advantage of training discounts for multiple students.
Maribel Lopez, principal analyst for Lopez Research, told Channel Futures that as open-source technologies including Linux, containerization and Kubernetes use continue to gain dramatically in enterprise IT, that the future of software will be based on these trends.
"It makes sense that the channel should get ready for this," said Lopez. "The channel has been looking for value-added opportunities for a while, and I think this is a good one. It's standardized, it's repeatable and it's necessary for businesses. You're going to need to get these skills."
What the channel can do to prepare for revenue-enhancing opportunities such as IBM's pending Red Hat acquisition is to move now to take advantage of educational programs, she said. Online courses from other sources, including Udemy, Coursera and others, are also available, said Lopez.
"The challenge is if you are an individual and want to get up to speed quickly, just choosing the way to get such training is challenging," she said. "Knowing which one you should take is problematic. Some can be wonderful and some can be terrible, and you don't know which one will get you where you want to go."
Another analyst, Rob Enderle of Enderle Group, agreed that the channel needs to get ready for the impacts of the IBM acquisition of Red Hat.
"Now that IBM is behind Red Hat, the opportunities for Red Hat Linux and related tools has expanded greatly, supporting additional channel resources being applied to Red Hat's solutions," said Enderle. "With this acquisition, IBM is planning on building a wave of sales — and riding that wave is what the channel should be aggressively planning on doing."
The need for additional training in open source and Linux is also supported by recent studies, such as the 2018 Open Source Jobs Report released by The Linux Foundation and IT employment website Dice.com in June, which found that Linux skills again lead the needs of some 80 percent of hiring managers around the world. The study said that finding enough qualified and skilled open-source developers to hire continues to be a problem for enterprises and the channel as the demand for open-source administrators and code creators continues to climb.