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Cloud Certification Exams supported by HPE for OpenStack and Exin

KellyBaig

It was my pleasure this week, to sit down with the Cloud Education team here at HPE. This team includes some dynamic personalities, and they shared their perspectives and advice for technical people in the process of adopting cloud.

First, who is in the team? A great group of people, which include:

  • Larry Hinman, who leads our Cloud Education from a world-wide perspective. Larry recently came over from Consulting and has many first-hand experiences working with teams through the adoption of cloud and hybrid infrastructure.
  • Deeko Patel, who looks after Cloud Education for organizations in the Americas including US, Canada, and South America. Deeko is an expert on learning modalities, mentoring, labs and everything that it really takes to help technical people through the complex learning curve for cloud.
  • Ron Nilsen, one of our technical consultants at HPE who also serves as an instructor. He teaches our courses on VMware, CloudSystem, and OpenStack® Technology.

Here is how my conversation with this team went down.

Kelly: Thanks for taking some time with me to talk about your Cloud approach. I notice that there are some new courses and certifications available, and you have this interesting new Prime subscription in the Americas. I have a lot of questions!

Larry: Sure, Kelly! We do have a lot going on and we appreciate the opportunity to help clarify some of the details because we know it’s a lot for people to try to understand.

Deeko: Happy to talk with you!

Ron: Good to talk to you again!

Kelly: Let me start with something that our partners are doing. I notice that the OpenStack organization has introduced their own certification exams, for Certified OpenStack Administrators, or COA. Are we working with OpenStack on this?

Larry: Yes, sure we’re working with them. Our cloud courses – and we have them for all levels – are exactly what IT professionals need to get ready for certification exams, including the COA exam that OpenStack now offers.

Deeko: Keep in mind, though Kelly, that OpenStack right now has only introduced a COA exam for Foundation level. We’re expecting to see more interest from our students, when there are additional certification levels available for more advanced topics, like Neutron, Cinder and Swift. We’re still also supporting EXIN exams, as well, where the Neutron certification is already offered.

Kelly: OK, that’s a good point, Deeko; since we are working with both OpenStack and EXIN, are we vendor-neutral on exams?

Deeko: That’s right. We are completely vendor-neutral so that our students can select the exams that they want to take, according to what they think will help them the most. It’s up to them. And that’s important to us, because we want our students to be able to work with EXIN or OpenStack to become certified – we don’t want to lock them into anything.

Kelly: Give me some idea of how EXIN and OpenStack exams compare. Are they the same, or are there some differences – and reasons why someone might select one instead of the other?

Ron: I think the most important difference to know about, is that the EXIN exams are written tests while the OpenStack exam is a practical. It’s a hands-on lab so people taking that one are expected to be the hands-on administrators, the people developing the cloud and they need to be prepared to demonstrate their skills. Not just talk about them.

Kelly: Oh wow – so that’s a big difference. I can see, also, why a higher-level IT person or a business person who wants to demonstrate their knowledge of cloud, might prefer the EXIN exams. Do I have that right?

Deeko: Exactly, Kelly. The hands-on administrators are interested in the OpenStack certifications because they like the idea that OpenStack is creating a path for them. They will be able to demonstrate their engineering skills, and show the certs as evidence. But EXIN certs are also valuable for people, just for different reasons.

For one thing, EXIN offers other certifications in addition to cloud, and they’ve given virtual exams for a long time. So EXIN is kind of the proven entity and their exams are widely known and respected, in categories like ITIL and ITSM, in addition to cloud. So, it just depends on why someone would want to be certified, and the style of certification that they are most comfortable to demonstrate.

Kelly: This is a nice benefit, then, of working with HPE for training on cloud: we are vendor-neutral so that students can select the certifications of their choice. Makes sense. What else would you say distinguishes our HPE cloud education?

Larry: I’d like to frame an answer to that by pointing out that the cloud adoption curve has become really steep lately. As recently as 12 months ago, probably 90% of the OpenStack implementations out there were what I would call “a cloud in a corner”. Fast-forward to today, and suddenly we have 60% of these environments in production. The level of complexity and challenge is enormously higher. And people are struggling with it.

Deeko: That’s right. And we know from our years of training experience, that people need more than a training course to be successful with something like cloud. That’s why we’ve introduced a cloud learning subscription to a combination of how we help people, which we’re calling Prime. It offers training combined with other learning methods, like labs and mentoring. It’s the combination of approaches that matters – that’s what is most effective for helping people through the cloud learning curve.

Kelly: I remember Prime; we introduced that in a blog right before last month’s OpenStack Summit. That’s a pilot in the Americas only. Will we have this worldwide?

Larry: We’re planning on that, yes. We want to see how it goes in the Americas first, and then we plan to roll it out worldwide.

Kelly: Your “office hours” in Prime have caught some attention. That’s a great concept. How’s that coming along?

Deeko: Yes, we’re really excited to offer this new mentoring opportunity for our students. Mentoring is really key for this type of technology, when so much changes and is in flux for people. Sometimes, you get stuck – and having a place every month where you can go to ask questions, and get immediate responses and help – that’s key to making it work. Our first “Office Hours” session is scheduled for July – and we’re setting a count-down clock in our Community room pretty soon, because people are asking us about it.

Kelly: If I look at our OpenStack and cloud portfolio, there is certainly a lot to learn. Also, I see that the OpenStack version updates pretty frequently. What’s your advice to people trying to keep up with all of this?

Larry: That’s true. There is a lot to learn, and that’s also why we do offer a variety of modalities for learning. A more proficient IT person, for example, could decide to take the Foundation course through our elearning. That’s easier to schedule, because it’s available when they need it – at their own pace, and when they can fit it into their schedules. We also offer delta courses, so someone who already had Foundation training on say, Kilo, can focus only on what’s new in Liberty. Now, there’s a lot actually that is new – but the delta course helps.

Deeko: We also expect people to specialize. We offer the more advanced stand-alone courses for topics like Neutron, Cinder, Swift and Ceph. An individual might take all of these, but it’s more likely that someone will specialize – and focus on networking or storage, for example, but maybe not on both.

Kelly: I’m proud to see that IDC reports we are a leader in cloud training for four years running. What puts us ahead, do you think, for our students and customers?

Ron: Speaking as an instructor who has been around HPE for a long time, I think it boils down to a few key and profoundly important differences that we offer. First, we are the technology experts because we build cloud environments; we build them for ourselves, we consult with our customers that have our teams come and help them build, and we build our own HPE Helion OpenStack technology versions. This means we have deep and practiced knowledge to share. Not textbook. This is really important, especially now when, as Larry says, we see our customers working with cloud in production environments. You need to have the hands-on experience with really doing the work, to be able to teach it in a meaningful way.

The next part is our labs. Having access to a lab which is provisioned in advance with the latest equipment and software, and which is available for practice – this is key. Our labs also include practical walk-through – these are scripted practice exercises which are designed to help technical people learn, in the way that they like to learn, and the way that they learn most effectively. Our students can practice our labs repeatedly. And, as I’ve pointed out before, there is no better way to learn than making a mistake and having to work through the process of figuring out where the error was made.

Finally, our global presence is really important to customer organizations. Individual students appreciate the labs and the practical knowledge, and their bosses appreciate that we can train people with the same level of knowledge and common practices all over the world. Because our customers do business all over the world, and they need the flexibility to have people trained consistently wherever they work.

Kelly: Great – that is excellent. Larry, you also have some new courses coming out for HOS, correct?

Larry: That’s right, Kelly. We updated our Foundations course to Liberty just last month. And, we’re coming up on updates to many others right now. For example, our Introduction to OpenStack Technology H6C68AAE (WBT), Fundamentals of OpenStack Technology Exam H6C68M, EXIN Foundation Certificate in OpenStack Exam Prep H8Q15S, as well as updates to our Neutron, Swift, CEPH, and Helion OpenStack courses; these are all planned and pending for update in June.

People interested in this should watch our blogs for announcement – your blogs, actually, Kelly – and also they might benefit from our new Cloud and DevOps page. We’re keeping that up-to-date with our latest announcements. And, of course, we have our course catalog for cloud – where students can go to register.

Resources and Links

Here are the resources that Larry and the team mentioned, for easy reference:

 

About the Author

KellyBaig

25+ years in high tech in various roles that include Consulting, Channel Mgmt, Product Mgmt and Marketing. Technology areas include storage and data management, high availability, cloud and hosting, networking, and mobility/wearable technology for enterprise, SMB , and channel business. Industries include healthcare, financial services, ISVs, Service Providers and telecos.

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