Tag Archives: training

Since the late 1990s I've been working intently on trying to buck a trend. A trend that saw a lot of the larger IT vendors going direct or hiding behind large distributors who didn't themselves offer a huge value add to the lifeblood of computing - the reseller channel.

Many of you who read this blog, or get it emailed to you every day know me of old.  A percentage of you took a gamble or a hunch and bet on me in 1999/2000 onwards and became SmoothWall resellers, joining the three tier platform I invented on the back of a fag packet based entirely on hard done research in the channel. I remember when I suggested a three tiered reseller platform to my fellow directors with a minimum buy in level from resellers they thought I was mad but I needed to add value and perceived ranking and I needed a global partner network I could rely on for growth in areas where representation was low or non existent. It also gave me the ability to grow my company, conceived and started in my back bedroom, as a global player with world reach.

However that is exactly where my own ability to take praise stops. Everything I've ever learnt or understood about the channel and reseller partner growth and evolution I owe to one man I've never spoken to or met in person, but who I studied intently and who I worked for/with indirectly as one of his partners. He's never really understood or given the credibility in the market he deserves yet he did more for British IT than many will ever realise and he changed my life and my ability to push and promote the goods and services I was creating. I've never stopped learning from his capabilities and vision and sharing some of his story with you today will take you to the next level of where I want to see the IT SME servicing reseller and partner channel start to re-invent themselves.

Graham Wylie is the chap I'm talking about. He was one of the founders of Sage Software in my part of the world, the North East of England. So there was an added reason for me listening to him straight off the bat there. Graham, like my mother, went to Newcastle University and wrote what would become Sage Line 50 originally launched for CP/M on the Amstrad and later on PC. I was a huge 4GL nut and after leaving Uni used to write and develop stuff for Sage Line50 and Line100 selling to accountants all over the UK but predominantly in North London. From 1981 to 2003 Graham and his fellow directors grew the company taking it public in 1989 and exceeding revenues of over £1bn before he retired in 2003 with a shareholding of £146m banked. An astute cookie. Graham is now chairman and founder of TSG sitting alongside someone else I look up to (as a Sunderland supporter) David Stonehouse, all still based in Tyne and Wear.

Graham's brainchild was to realise that Sage were good at one core thing. Writing software. Selling direct wasn't really sensible and had higher cost of sales so he came up with the Accountants Club to grow the company organically, before acquisitions and mergers became the norm. Accountants Club had the basis of a channel in IT parlance of small to medium sized IT service organisations  and accountants who signed up to a tiered approach to selling and themselves having the ability to modify the then underlying 4GL (pre Windows) basis for the Sage Line 50 and Sovereign (pre Line100) products and the approach worked. The organic reach of the Accountants Club meant that the relationships between the companies and accounts products to companies and bookkeepers alike for everything from bill of materials to sales order processing and invoicing meant Sage became the de-facto go to standard and revenues rolled in.

Graham Wylie with aplomb and flair and a canny sense of capability had created a posterchild example of how you grow organically, profitably whilst looking after with a duty of care the needs of the people in his employ but also in the first national then international company he had created in the form of that valuable and intrinsic reseller community. So in 2000 when I was looking at a way of combatting Lawrence and our lack of experience at running a sales organisation to cope with the massive demand we had I did what I knew. I sat down and worked out how Graham did it, something I'd seen first hand in the mid 1990s. Creating on the back of it the drive and focus that became the initial and original SmoothWall reseller community globally - a programme that still generates multi million dollar revenues today and has a massive reseller focus worldwide.

I've never stopped learning from Graham Wylie - and I take the same approach he did now to Cloud working with resellers to arm them with the ability to get the understanding and core extensibility and value added capabilities to begin assisting companies get the best out of their opportunity in Cloud and virtualisation.

Over the next two weeks I'm going to be writing about what I think the IT reseller community and service provider community could and should be doing better, how I am intent on changing things to empower them with the power of Red Hat and our reseller and partner channel and to try and inspire new resellers looking for revenue opportunities to give them the correct approach to working with us to build organically strong successful partnerships.

I often get involved in resourcing the best candidates we can get for Red Hat. The cream of the crop get interviewed for available roles in our practices globally and we've built a reputation for trying our hardest to ensure we get the best people. Two colleagues who are both happily employed in different areas of virtualisation and Cloud have something in common with a lot of us in the tech world in that we're all approached on a regular basis by headhunters and recruitment consultants aiming to pry us away from our happy homes to pastures new. This led me this morning on the back of a conversation to do some homework looking at 65 Cloud specific roles advertised on three major job portals.

There are very few good recruiters out there that properly earn their commission, they do exist and they are worth their weight in gold and they know who they are. Many companies also now have talent management staff who also are an incredibly useful buffer. The rest of the market is seemingly populated by sales people who see recruitment no differently to, for example, telemarketing or selling photocopiers.

So looking at skillsets required in advertised roles it was a scary realisation that actually we are in a position where those with Open Source and Linux skills are far far more in demand than those in Windows / Azure / VMWare technology arenas. In 65 adverts I looked at 49 were predominantly Linux skillset based. Out of that 49, 16 also mentioned VMWare. The remaining 16 adverts were VMWare / Azure  roles.

It just goes to show that the sensible money is on Open Cloud, not proprietary. So if you're thinking of a career change and you want to understand how you move forward in a new career or reskill to keep your resume current you know what you have to do.

Red Hat Training in every territory worldwide can help you with this - check out your nearest training centre here.

Yesterday I had the mother of all days in London, hot and muggy, multiple trains, tubes and walking my feet off whilst getting out and about talking Cloud. I was sat, gratefully, on an almost empty train with aircon and it gave me time to sit down with a pad and paper and to get some thoughts down around some of the precursors to Cloud from an Enterprise perspective and I want to share them with you in the form of steps you can take today to build a level of management skillsets towards enterprise Open Cloud adoption and design.

The Red Hat multi faceted approach to technology encompasses support, design, release and management of software across enterprise and datacentre alike but a significant percentage of annual revenue comes from the demand for our training services under the auspices of the Red Hat University. For over a decade we've turned out thousands of certified technicians and management across companies globally who are then armed locally not just to manage Red Hat platforms but to make qualified assessments and decisions around legacy and heterogeneous environments. The RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer) has been the badge of honour for many years of the techno savvy across companies globally, and now entry level RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator) allowing an introductory path to ongoing certification and training pre RHCE study and certification.

Adding to the multiple Red Hat certified qualifications and training there is a great course that is designed for architects, system administrators, and J2EE/JBoss developers alike that offers adoptees a significant leg up towards Cloud understanding at every level. Designed for students who already have achieved their base entry RHCSA as a minimum. The Red Hat Cloud Architecture workshop is a two day course that we deliver globally and that is solving many of the thought issues around provisioning, re-use of legacy hardware and applications and also the missing piece of Cloud for many enterprise customers - governance and planning where costs can often account for up to fifty percent of longterm Cloud adoption if not understood and managed properly.

Giving a proper appreciation of the requirements around planning and building IaaS platforms, looking at the tacit design and thought processes around successful design of private and public cloud, application design specifics and planning the whole provisioning lifecycle of Cloud. We bring the ability to the classroom to allow those in the room to be able to deploy hosts and vm's and to really get to grips with understanding every angle of ownership around the management requirements of a successful Cloud deployment and how the whole hybrid Cloud model works. Giving customers a real world appreciation of planning, provisioning, scalability and allowing enterprises to get to Cloud quicker with confidence and with the inhouse skilling of key personnel should be a potential boost for many enterprises.

If you want to add to that as an individual there are then a multitude of courses and exams on everything from RHEV to SELinux for individual staffers to become platform specialists and to allow you as an organisation to develop a best of breed approach to your Cloud needs - you can find more information here.

Are you Cloud ready ?

We've made available for some time our Cloud Readiness Assessment Guide (registration required but takes minutes to step through) which is free to use and easy to work through and delivers you an automated assessment / appraisal of your readiness. Invaluable and something that as it's made available freely should really be a no-brainer to work through.

You'll also find a bunch of whitepapers and a video with Bryan Che around planning and assessment phases of Cloud online here. We also have our Cloud webinars that I know from feedback a few of you have already discovered via this blog.

If theres anything more you want or need to know please reach out to me directly or to your local in country Red Hat product teams and we'll react promptly.