Instructor-Led Training

Training is a sound investment networked to future growth.
Achieving Diversity through Cross-Training

Providing cross-training for employees who maintain a specific job focus reduces operation risks by enabling staff members to deploy contingency plans smoothly and rapidly. For example, an administrator who maintains an NT or Novell server can be cross-trained in Linux. When the inevitable human resources crunch occurs, the workload can be easily redistributed. If a staff member is out for a work emergency or due to a personal crisis, another can step in and help fill the role. Diagnosing a problem over a long-distance connection to someone who doesn't know the first thing about the bash interactive shell can be a frustrating experience at best and can lead to potentially greater catastrophes than the initial problem.

Distributing knowledge and skills to employees through cross-training also provides staff with a better understanding of multiple problem and solution domains available in their networked computing environment. By providing cross training of Linux skills to staff members who are responsible for other systems (such as NT or Novell), the collective of knowledge can assure the very best overall practices are employed. By the same token, appropriate NT systems training for staff members who are primarily focused on Linux will lend them understanding of how best to leverage the strengths and weaknesses of each operating system environment.

Increasing System Security and Reducing Risks

In today's high-speed networked computing environment, both inadvertent damage and malicious attacks can cripple a system in the blink of an eye. Damage recovery is a painfully slow and meticulous process. Data is almost never completely restored, and the time devoted to system recovery has net-zero productivity.

With proper training and planning, however, preventive measures can be taken to avoid risks and speed recovery in event of a breach. Knowledge of how best to protect the system through management of permissions and system services allows the administrator to maintain tight system control, while determining allowable access. Initial planning for system installation will accommodate the most-favored backup strategies within the organization.

Considering the Costs of Inadequate Training

The costs associated with Linux-based training are easily determined. It's far more difficult to ascertain the tangible and intangible costs of not investing in training. The backlash of not instituting an educational program can include reduced staff productivity and the loss of potential employee innovation and creativity. And the company's customers are another critical factor; clients depend on a networking organization for high-end technical knowledge and service. It just takes one slip to lose credibility, and perhaps business as well.

Finally, lack of adequate training could pave the way to security risks. Linux has become a big player on-line, and its growing popularity has led to an ever-expanding threat of potential damage from hackers. With sufficient knowledge of the Linux operating system, employees know which features or unused services to disable to ensure site protection.

The costs of inadequate training can be either obvious or subtle, but they trickle down through most phases of operations. Solid training allows a diverse staff to play from the same sheet of music, and the advantages are equal for both direct employees and paid consultants. In the final analysis, providing an ongoing education program for employees is the most important networking an organization can do.

Marty Ferguson is a Linux instructor with Global Knowledge Network, a worldwide IT training provider headquartered in Burlington, Mass. He has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies regarding Linux training and is a co-founder of APEX Integration Systems, a North Carolina-based company that builds turn-key Linux systems to meet specific customer applications. He can be reached at marty.ferguson@pobox.com.

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