An in­ter­view with Dr Men­dus Ja­cob, ND And CEO, IPSP So­lu­tions

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Although South In­dia has an edge when it comes to the adop­tion of open source tech­nol­ogy, other parts of the coun­try are not far be­hind. What is re­ally a con­cern for the IT in­dus­try is the dearth of open source pro­fes­sion­als. Sadly, open source tech­nol­ogy is yet to pen­e­trate deep into our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, but cer­ti­fi­ca­tions help to get those in­ter­ested more em­ploy­able. Dik­sha P Gupta from Open Source For You spoke to Dr Men­dus Ja­cob, man­ag­ing direc­tor and CEO of IPSR So­lu­tions, and found that there are enough jobs for open source pro­fes­sion­als but cer­tain em­ploy­a­bil­ity fac­tors need to be worked upon. Ex­cerpts:

QHow

do you view the adop­tion of open source tech­nol­ogy in the In­dian SME seg­ment? Open source tech­nol­ogy is wit­ness­ing a good amount of adop­tion across the coun­try. Some state gov­ern­ments and gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions have of­fi­cially adopted open source. We also come across a lot of re­ports stat­ing that the gov­ern­ment of In­dia is also plan­ning to adopt and pro­mote open source soft­ware in most public soft­ware do­mains. This is good news, as open source tech­nol­ogy is grow­ing and flour­ish­ing in the de­sired way. More­over, the non­profit and busi­ness sec­tors have shown great affin­ity to this tech­nol­ogy, es­pe­cially ow­ing to the eco­nomic slow­down, which had called for ur­gent cost-cut­ting mea­sures. Q Which part of the coun­try has been most re­spon­sive when it comes to open source tech­nolo­gies? The world has wel­comed open source tech­nolo­gies. In­dia has ac­cepted it. We see it ev­ery­where, ba­si­cally. Though we op­er­ate from Ker­ala in south In­dia, we have al­ready es­tab­lished a world­wide cus­tomer base and we have clients from most parts of In­dia. Tech­nol­ogy wise, we be­lieve there is a greater re­sponse to open source tech­nolo­gies in the south­ern part of In­dia, but other re­gions are not far be­hind in the race. Q You have been work­ing on open source tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions for a long time now. How have you seen the mar­ket evolve over th­ese years? Clients in the SME seg­ment and ed­u­ca­tional sec­tors have shown tremen­dous in­ter­est in the adop­tion of open source tech­nol­ogy, par­tic­u­larly in ser­vices like con­tent man­age­ment sys­tems, e- busi­ness sys­tems, learn­ing sup­port sys­tems and other Web ap­pli­ca­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, we have seen a huge shift in the Web host­ing in­dus­try. Host­ing com­pa­nies have al­ready started to for­get the tra­di­tional servers, and are rapidly mov­ing to­wards vir­tual pri­vate Linux servers and public cloud ser­vices be­cause of the cost benefits. There has been an in­creased level of aware­ness about open source tech­nolo­gies, thanks to the me­dia cov­er­age and the gov­ern­ment level adop­tion of open source. When such an adop­tion takes place, it con­tin­u­ally throws up the re­quire­ment for a tech­nol­ogy- ori­ented work force. This is ex­actly what we have been con­tribut­ing to the in­dus­try.

When we first be­gan our op­er­a­tions 15 years ago, we un­der­stood the im­por­tance of open source tech­nolo­gies in the long run, and aligned our­selves to­wards ini­ti­at­ing our as­so­ci­a­tion with Red Hat Inc., as an au­tho­rised train­ing part­ner back in 2003. We knew that when there is a tech­nol­ogy shift to open source, most or­gan­i­sa­tions would re­quire a work­force that could eas­ily man­age and con­trol this change with min­i­mal costs. We have wit­nessed many or­gan­i­sa­tions pass­ing through the re­ces­sion, the eco­nomic slow­down and the var­i­ous in­dus­try hic­cups over th­ese years. But, when we look back to­day, it is ev­i­dent that we have only sup­ported the in­dus­try in a ben­e­fi­cial way by sup­ply­ing trained tal­ent. To­day we cater to the re­quire­ments of clients from over 50 coun­tries across the globe. Q What are the main chal­lenges that you face when it comes to con­vinc­ing the SME seg­ment about adopt­ing so­lu­tions based on open source tech­nol­ogy? Ed­u­cat­ing clients is a chal­lenge. To get SME com­pa­nies ed­u­cated about the cost ad­van­tages of­fered by adopt­ing open source tech­nol­ogy is not an easy task. It re­quires a lot of ef­fort. Well, at the end, it is all fruit­ful, but the ini­tial stages of con­vinc­ing a client is a tough road to cross. Then again, there is a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing that, if the source code is open, it is not se­cure. Peo­ple be­lieve that it is open to all and that there could be se­cu­rity holes and flaws, which could be utilised by hack­ers. While no soft­ware can be free of bugs or vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, open source has the back­ing of the com­mu­nity mem­bers, who find out the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and patch them at a much faster pace than most of the closed source al­ter­na­tives.

It is also dif­fi­cult to con­vince clients about the cost of pro­gram code, cus­tomi­sa­tion and ser­vice, be­cause some peo­ple think that ev­ery­thing about open source is free. It is not that way. Ba­si­cally, it boils down to the fact that the words ‘open’ and ‘free’ are not per­ceived by ev­ery­one in the real sense of open source. Q Tell us about your prod­uct of­fer­ings and their devel­op­ment be­ing done in In­dia? We fo­cus on open source based ser­vices— im­ple­men­ta­tion and train­ing— typ­i­cally as per client re­quire­ments. We spe­cialise in set­ting up cloud based in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, Web ap­pli­ca­tions and mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions. We do this by cus­tomis­ing ex­ist­ing open source ap­pli­ca­tions or by build­ing cus­tom ap­pli­ca­tions. This in­cludes public and pri­vate cloud con­fig­u­ra­tions, migration to the cloud, man­aged sup­port for the cloud, ap­pli­ca­tion man­age­ment and de­vel­oper sup­port in the cloud, cloud based devel­op­ment, con­tent man­age­ment sys­tems, e- com­merce sys­tems, learn­ing man­age­ment so­lu­tions, cus­tom Web por­tals, etc.

“While no soft­ware can be free of bugs or vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, open source has the back­ing of the com­mu­nity mem­bers, who find out the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and patch them at a much faster pace than most of the closed source al­ter­na­tives.”

Un­der the train­ing wing, we pri­mar­ily of­fer cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grammes in Red Hat Linux. Th­ese give em­ploy­ers ways to find and de­velop qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als and help tech­ni­cal pro­fes­sion­als prove their skills on Red Hat tech­nolo­gies. Be­ing an au­tho­rised Red Hat Train­ing part­ner for 12 years, we have been recog­nised as the best Red Hat train­ing part­ner in Asia Pa­cific. With more than 25+ train­ers, we of­fer the RHCSA, RHCE, RHCVA, RHCDS and the RHCA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grammes. Q What kind of en­gi­neer­ing team is in­volved in the process? Based on re­quire­ments for the projects, sys­tems ar­chi­tects, an­a­lysts, de­vel­op­ers, UI ex­perts, testers, sys­tems ad­min­is­tra­tors, etc, are in­cluded in teams man­aged by project man­agers. We make use of the ag­ile devel­op­ment method­ol­ogy called Scrum. Q Do you sup­port the view that cer­ti­fi­ca­tions help in fetch­ing a job? Most of the com­pa­nies I speak to con­sider cer­ti­fi­ca­tions as just an add-on. We are an au­tho­rised and loyal train­ing part­ner of Red Hat since 2003. We have trained over 10,000 pro­fes­sion­als who cur­rently work in multi­na­tional com­pa­nies in In­dia and abroad. We an­tic­i­pated the im­por­tance of Red Hat cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in smoothen­ing the rocky road for job-seek­ers very early.

IT cer­ti­fi­ca­tions can­not be con­sid­ered as just an add-on. They could be con­sid­ered a ‘dec­o­ra­tion’ to the bach­e­lor’s de­gree al­ready pos­sessed by a job-seeker. A cer­ti­fi­ca­tion dif­fer­en­ti­ates an IT grad­u­ate from oth­ers dur­ing the re­cruit­ment process.

It has been widely re­ported that find­ing Linux tal­ent is a ma­jor con­cern, since Linux is grow­ing at such a rapid rate. Linux tal­ent is be­ing sought for at an un­be­liev­able pace. When we sup­ply trained and cer­ti­fied pro­fes­sion­als to an or­gan­i­sa­tion, we are ba­si­cally sup­ply­ing an in­dus­tryre­lated ready work­force. This gives an edge to the hir­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion. Their train­ing costs be­come less and the em­ployee can be eas­ily as­signed to new projects in min­i­mal time. We make both par­ties happy—the job-seeker and the hir­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion also helps em­ploy­ees get ca­reer ad­vance­ments within the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Q What is the next step for a per­son get­ting an IT cer­ti­fi­ca­tion? This would ide­ally de­pend on the in­ter­ests of the in­di­vid­ual. The can­di­dates could ei­ther climb up the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion lad­der or choose to advertise them­selves in the job pool. The more the cer­ti­fi­ca­tions achieved, the higher the chance of get­ting a job.

In the case of Red Hat cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, prospects can join in as ju­nior sys­tems ad­min­is­tra­tors, for which they would be re­quired to gather and up­date knowl­edge in ar­eas like vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion, the cloud and the like. This would, of course, be as per the re­quire­ment of the em­ployer. Se­cu­rity ad­min­is­tra­tor, data cen­tre ad­min­is­tra­tor and stor­age ad­min­is­tra­tor are some of the other roles prospects could un­der­take from then on. Q What are the av­enues for a per­son get­ting cer­ti­fied in an open source tech­nol­ogy domain? Jobs are aplenty for peo­ple with the ex­per­tise in open source tech­nolo­gies. The per­son can work in data cen­tres, in­ter­nal server ad­min­is­tra­tion at air­ports, banks, uni­ver­si­ties, public parks, Web host­ing com­pa­nies, etc. The list is end­less. Q Do you see enough job av­enues open­ing up for peo­ple trained with open source tech­nolo­gies in In­dia? Rapid growth in the use of open source tech­nolo­gies in IT firms and gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties has cre­ated thou­sands of new job op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who are trained in th­ese tech­nolo­gies.

Not sur­pris­ingly, en­ter­prises are now de­scrib­ing open source as the core to their busi­nesses, and the de­mand for ex­per­tise in open source tech­nolo­gies is mount­ing to whop­ping heights. On the Linux plat­form, the ‘cloud’ is the true win­ner. The re­ports from IDC point out that cloud com­put­ing will gen­er­ate 2.3 mil­lion new jobs in In­dia in 2015. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that apart from cloud com­put­ing, al­lied ser­vices like server sup­port, se­cu­rity, sys­tems in­te­gra­tion, the data cen­tre, vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion, data stor­age, re­mote in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment, IT trans­for­ma­tion, etc, will be defin­ing the global cor­po­rate, industrial and ser­vices sec­tors in the fu­ture.

Be­sides, gov­ern­ments and en­ter­prises are in­creas­ingly un­der­tak­ing trans­for­ma­tion projects with new open source tech­nolo­gies. Mir­ror­ing th­ese trends, with­out doubt, open source tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to be the fu­ture, and IT pro­fes­sion­als will soon ac­knowl­edge com­pe­ten­cies in open source tech­nolo­gies as a ca­reer­ad­vanc­ing tool. Go­ing for­ward, the IT sec­tor is go­ing to be flooded with op­por­tu­ni­ties in open source, not only in In­dia but also around the world.

‘‘En­ter­prises are now de­scrib­ing open source as the core to their busi­nesses, and the de­mand for ex­per­tise in open source tech­nolo­gies is mount­ing to whop­ping heights. On the Linux plat­form, the ‘cloud’ is the true win­ner. The re­ports from IDC point out that cloud com­put­ing will gen­er­ate 2.3 mil­lion new jobs in In­dia in 2015. ’’

Dr Men­dus Ja­cob, man­ag­ing direc­tor and CEO of IPSR So­lu­tions

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