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The Current IT Landscape

May 13, 2015
Randy Russell


IT architecture is undergoing a period of rapid change and evolution. With this change comes enormous opportunity for professionals who are not just deep in a single technology but deeply conversant in several and who can join these technologies together to meet the needs of today's enterprise. The Red Hat Certified Architect program provides a credential that represents these skills and knowledge. Through a combination of flexible requirements and recommended concentrations, Red Hat is providing a path for professionals to advance their careers and for its subscription customers to find the right architect.


The IT landscape is in a period of rapid change. The drivers behind this pace of change should be familiar to everyone now: ubiquitous connectivity and particularly the widespread use of smartphones and tablets; the shift from bare-metal datacenters to virtualization to cloud; big data analytics and the heavy storage requirements that accompany the growing and valuable data stores of an enterprise; the "Internet of Things." Add to this list one other: open source software (OSS). What was once a fringe movement is not just mainstream, it has become a catalyst of innovation by connecting communities of use more closely to software development than ever before. Open source has made software a marketplace of ideas in which evolution is constant, rapid, and guided by the requirements of these communities of use rather than the dictates of a hegemonic vendor.

Change is coming-has already come-to the world of enterprise application development as well as the infrastructure on which the applications run. Developers now drive many IT decisions that once were the exclusive province of the corporate IT department. The DevOps model ("developer operations") of software development, testing, and deployment could not be more different than the models of the past. Applications are not updated in cycles measured in years, months, or weeks. Applications are updated daily. Major online retailers may push thousands of changes to their applications every single day. This rapid pace requires an architecture designed for such a pace and professionals who can provide it.

On the other hand, other enterprises all over the world are benefiting from the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Enterprise-class IT is not like the consumer technology market in which the latest and greatest always carries the day. "It works" is the goal in the enterprise, and many organizations tend to stick with proven approaches. These organizations require professionals who understand the modern datacenter and can produce architectures that drive efficiencies and scale within a more traditional paradigm.

In short, architecture choices are becoming more important than ever, more subject to rapid change and evolution, and with more opportunities for IT professionals who have deep and broad skills and knowledge.

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA®)

The RHCA program has from the beginning offered a multi-technology, solutions-focused credential that represents breadth and depth of knowledge and skills using Red Hat technologies. In 2005, the emphasis was on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and closely related technologies. The Red Hat product portfolio has expanded considerably since the beginnings of the RHCA program in 2005. Red Hat now offers virtualization, cloud, middleware, and software-defined storage products.

This expansion of the Red Hat product portfolio creates a multiplicity of potential Red Hat architecture options an enterprise might apply. Red Hat changed the RHCA program in 2014 to adapt to this new landscape. When the program was first introduced, one had to become a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and then pass five additional hands-on, performance-based exams. Later, it became possible to choose between exams for one of these choices, but it was still the case that Red Hat dictated a rather specific path to RHCA.

Beginning in 2014, Red Hat changed the requirements such that one must earn RHCE and then pass any five exams from among an eligible list of fourteen. Individuals can now choose the combination of skills that comprise their RHCA. This flexibility is useful for individuals because it lets them adjust their certification path to their interests and the opportunities they see in the market. The flexibility is likewise useful to companies that are Red Hat customers because they can invest in training, development, and senior-level certification for their personnel, and have them focus on the technologies they use or are interested in using in the future.

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