Rackspace Creates The Open Cloud Academy To Help Close Skills Gap


Cloud computing is clearly one of the hot topics in the world of information technology, but the world of academia has not matched pace, according to Rackspace Hosting Chairman Graham Weston. To help close that cloud computing skills gap, Rackspace is launching the Open Cloud Academy.

"If you wanted Hadoop training, where would you go?" asked Weston. "What if you just got a computer science degree, and you wanted to do some cloud training, where would you go? There's not a good answer right now."

Weston pointed to a recent study commissioned by Rackspace that revealed cloud deployments are hampered by a shortage of cloud computing skills more than half the time.

[Related: Rackspace Adds New Feautures To Support Private Clouds]

The research, conducted by Manchester Business School and Vanson Bourne, a U.K.-based market researcher, said that 66 percent of the 1,300 U.S.- and U.K.-based companies participating in the cloud survey are now looking to increase their IT skills to better match the needs of cloud deployments. The survey also revealed that 56 percent of the respondents do not know where to acquire the desired levels of education. And nearly 80 percent reported that colleges and universities need to revise their curricula to support cloud-related changes in technologies and business models.

The research included qualitative interviews conducted in December and January.

"In five years, you'll be able to get all of this at the university," Weston said. "But today it's not there. We are trying to create a way for people to get certification in the open-source cloud technologies that they can't get anywhere else. We think the lack of skills is making adoption of the cloud more difficult. It is preventing IT departments and software developers from utilizing the best tools available."

Weston went on to explain that the educational effort began with a pilot program that has now evolved into a series of all-day classes that run for six to eight weeks. The emphasis of each class is on specific services and applications, such as Ruby, Python, Chef, Mongo, Hadoop, Linux and OpenStack. Although most classes have an online component, Weston said that the emphasis is on a classroom-based setting located in San Antonio, near Rackspace's headquarters. The tuition is roughly $3,500 per class.

"There are IT professionals who need to increase their skills by 20 percent in order to make themselves marketable in the cloud era," Weston said. "We also think there'll be a good number of people who are looking to get into either building cloud applications or are starting a cloud-related business. In addition, we also believe we are likely to end up hiring a substantial number of people from the classes."

PUBLISHED MARCH 19, 2013