Training providers should be preparing themselves for an upcoming Linux “gold rush”, says Auckland-based open source proponent Igor Portugal.
The comment comes as training provider Ames moves to provide Linux courses for up to 800 students a year. It wants to cash in on what it says is an impending “boom”.
Portugal, interim chairman of the New Zealand Open Source Society, says many organisations are looking at using Linux as an operating system, both at server and desktop level. But a lack of Linux skills is hampering its take-up.
More use of Linux, he says, will fuel a demand for staff who know how to use Linux operating systems, or be able to teach their own end-users how to use Linux desktops.
Portugal, the technology head at open source systems integrator Asterisk, says growing Linux demand has seen the firm triple staff from four to a dozen in just over a year.
Market analyst IDC is estimating global Linux systems sales will go from $US80 million in 2001 to $US280 million in 2006.
Earlier this month, Auckland-based Ames announced a partnership with US-based SCO Group to deliver certified Linux training in a new 12-week course. The course will look at Linux solutions from the desktop to the enterprise; how to set up, manage and maintain Linux networks; and how to configure network services such as web and email services, firewalls and other security measures.
The course, for which New Zealand Qualifications Authority approval is being sought, will prepare students for the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) and CompTIA Linux+ certifications.
Ames director George Marr says some self-funded courses are likely to begin immediately, but the main impetus depends on NZQA approval, expected by year’s end, opening access to student loans. Marr expects as few as 40 of the 800 students to be local, the rest coming from overseas, where most of the 16-to-20-year-olds will return on course completion.
However, Linux, Marr says, is vital to the future of Ames.
“It is our goal to develop technical leaders who will become evangelists for Linux in New Zealand and around the world; students who can learn, teach, and make Linux the world’s next dominant operating system,” he says.
Portugal says other training providers need to “get cracking” in offering Linux courses.
Growing numbers of organisations are adopting Linux, including Air New Zealand and Housing New Zealand, and at the recent CIO Conference in Auckland, many attendees he spoke to said they will be considering it too.
Other Linux trainers include Spherion and Future Skills, and open source papers also form part of computer science qualifications at tertiary institutions, he says.
He doesn’t know of any courses being run for the general public, but thinks they are needed, as “more and more” small organisations look at installing Linux on desktops, as well as servers.
Spherion’s technical support manager, Vladimir Kosovac, the NZOSS acting education co-ordinator, agrees. He says demand for Red Hat Linux courses at Spherion is growing, though he has no figures available.