LPI extends global access to Linux certification

NEW YORK — While open-source advocates are encouraging mainstream use of Linux across the enterprise, a Canadian training company is spreading Linux certification around the world.

Brampton, Ont.-based Linux Professional Institute (LPI)

Wednesday said it would create a number of international affiliates at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo. Japanese and Australian affiliates have been launched, and a European Union affiliation may soon be available, said LPI president Chuck Mead.

The company delivered more than 1,000 tests in December. This is significant, Mead said, because only a handful of skills certification organizations worldwide average 12,000 tests per year. Between the time the company began testing and the end of last year, it had certified 1,540 people on Linux. Only 39.2 per cent of the people who sign up are eventually certified, Mead said.

LPI also made an offer to certification holders from competitor Sair. If these people are certified at LPI level 2, Mead said, they will automatically be awarded LPI level 1 certification.

The organization also said that is has expanded the network of venues in which its tests can be administered. In the past, LPI dealt exclusively with the VUE testing service. LPI has inked a deal with the Prometric, which will increase its testing venues to as many as 6,000 from about 2,800, Mead said.

Mead said the company, in conjunction with Mandrake University and IBM, will administer tests at the CeBit conference in Hanover, Germany, this March.

The efforts to spur Linux certification came in concert with commitment from brand-name vendors. The opening keynote, for example, was delivered by Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, who highlighted her company’s support – culturally and in its products and business relationships – for the open source operating system.

The company unveiled two carrier class servers, for example, the cc2300 and the cc3300, that support Linux in addition to OSes more traditionally used by telecom companies. The company also expanded its Opencall SS7 development package to support Linux and announced a model that will allow service providers to pay for capacity on an as-needed basis. Finally, HP announced a three-year technology agreement with DreamWorks SKG.

Fiorina’s keynote, however, dealt more with the overall positioning of Linux and, perhaps more subtly, attempted to draw a parallel between the underdog technology and difficulties HP– and the embattled Fiorina herself – is facing in its efforts to merge with Compaq.

While growth of Linux suffered less during 2001 than the IT industry at large, Fiorina said Linux, for all its strengths – especially to engineers – is at a crossroads. On one hand, she said, IT managers and decision makers in a number of industries would love to use the OS because of its simplicity, flexibility and low cost. On the other, they may be reluctant to do so because of issues tied to an inadequate support infrastructure.

Fiorina said that there are more productive endeavors for the Linux industry to spend its time on than worrying about the impact of Linux’s growth on Microsoft–and vice versa–and how long it will take for the OS to reach the desktop. “While everyone knows that this industry likes a good dog fight – and boy, do I know – our collective energy can be put no doubt to much better use,” she said.

According to Fiorina, those uses include:

· Expanding gains in ease-of-use, installation and management;

· Supporting standards;

· Organizating and mobilizing support personnel; and

· Developing tools tuned to supporting specific-apps as they take hold in an industry subset. She lauded such an effort that was announced today by the Open Source Development Lab. The group, supported by a number of companies including HP on developing such tools in the telecommunications sector.

Fiorina said that HP has a program in place to decide which products to retrofit to Linux. She highlighted several enterprises – including content caching and streaming provider Speedera, Amazon, Boeing – that are trusting vital and mission-critical applications to applications running on HP-based, Linux-run computers. “We have an unwavering commitment to do our part to help Linux mature as a platform,” she said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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