As the use of open-source software continues to grow for businesses of all sizes, a shortage of qualified IT administrators and other staff members who are trained, experienced and certified in open-source technologies remains a serious challenge for IT departments and the channel.
To help bridge that skills gap, the nonprofit Linux Foundation provides online certification testing for technicians in a wide range of open-source study areas, including exams in Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin (LFCS), Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE), Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) and Microsoft Linux on Azure MCSA.
The exams, which can be taken online from anywhere in the world around the clock, give IT professionals the ability to take them even when they aren't near a brick-and-mortar exam facility. For IT professionals who require the ability to take exams outside of their regular working hours, the online certification program can be convenient. The exams are $300 each and quantity discounts are available when seeking training for multiple employees.
The online certification exams are given by trained proctors who will have access to the student's computer during the exams via a webcam, screen sharing and identification protocols to ensure the security and fairness of the testing.
Maja Kraljic, a web developer who works for the Association for Progressive Communications, lives in Berlin, but is from Slovenia, where it can be difficult to find exam sites for IT certifications depending on the location.
"While I was doing my LFCS and LFCE certifications I was living in Slovenia and there were no testing centers available in the city I lived in," she told Channel Futures. "I wanted to gain more knowledge about Linux – as I was using Ubuntu – and wanted to know more how it works. I also wanted to teach others about Linux on workshops and having a certification from Linux Foundation for sure looks good on the CV."
The ability to schedule her certification testing on her own timetable was particularly helpful, she said.
"It was great that I could be tested at any time and also reschedule the certification if needed. I like it that it was possible to do it from home."
The online testing required her to keep her working area free of all paper, notebooks and other materials so she could not refer to anything while taking the exam. The setup process with the proctor sometimes took 10 minutes or more, she added.
"The experience was a bit stressful at first, as you do not know what to expect, how the console will look, what kind of tasks will you get, will you have enough time, what if the web page crashes or what if the electricity goes down," said Kraljic. "But after you get your test released and you start working on solving the tasks, your mind is perfectly focused and hopefully you complete the tasks before you run out of time. I also like that you get a free retake of the test [if necessary]."
After successfully completing her exams, she now has the certifications and is sure they were helpful in getting her web developer's job, she said.
"I am not sure my salary is higher because of it, but I have knowledge I gained during preparation that still serves me well."
Another open-source developer who used the online certification service, Warwick Park, a medical scientist and sonographer in the neurosciences department at Austin Health in Melbourne, said he took his LFCS exam online at home at night because he couldn't find time to take it during the work week.
"The online nature of the LFCS examination and the LFS201 training material meant I could get the job done whenever I had downtime, and without having to travel," he said. "The vast majority of the certification courses available in Melbourne were run during business hours, on weekdays. I simply didn't have the time flexibility to go to them. The Linux Foundation certification exam is what made this possible to do."
The Linux Foundation provides the global around-the-clock certification testing with a partner, PSI, an online proctoring vendor. Test takers access their exams through The Linux Foundation website via a single sign-on. After logging in, the test takers are greeted by a certified remote proctor who checks their IDs, starts and ends the exam, all in one browser without having to log out or change domains. More than 5,000 exams a year are given through the service. Exam languages include English and Japanese.
The Linux Foundation also sponsors a wide range of open-source projects, including The Academy Software Foundation, the Ceph Foundation, the GraphQL Foundation, Cloud Foundry, Hyperledger, Kubernetes and The R Consortium.