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One sign that an emerging technology has achieved a level of maturity worth creating a technology practice around is that a certification becomes available for it. Such is the case with the OpenStack cloud management framework.

The OpenStack Foundation announced the new Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) exam that solution providers and their customers can require to ensure that administrators are qualified to manage OpenStack deployments.

While OpenStack has a reputation for being complex, the main challenge with OpenStack going forward may not be so much the technology as it is the people and processes surrounding it. Speaking at the OpenStack Austin conference this week, Boris Renski, chief marketing officer for Mirantis, a provider of a distribution of OpenStack, posited that at this juncture, the issue with OpenStack is nine-tenths people and processes and one-tenth technology.

For solution providers, that may create a unique opportunity. Interest in OpenStack is running high because it allows IT organizations to use a common management framework across private and public clouds. Renksi, however, said the IT industry is just beginning to see the various operational models that will be created on top of OpenStack.

For example, Renski predicted that managed services will be one of the major ways OpenStack winds up supporting production workloads if for no other reason than most existing IT administrators don’t have much in the way of OpenStack expertise.

The challenge facing solution providers now is finding ways to come up to speed quickly on OpenStack. Multiple surveys have already shown a spike in OpenStack adoption in production environments. Yet OpenStack is more of an IT movement than an actual product.

As such, there’s no one vendor that solution providers can partner with to cover every aspect of OpenStack. In addition to Mirantis, IBM, Cisco, VMware and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise all have to one degree or another a vested interest in OpenStack.

Obviously, OpenStack won’t be the only management framework deployed in the enterprise, but it will most likely be closely associated with new application deployments involving emerging technologies such as containers. For solution providers savvy enough to follow the direction where IT budgets are starting to flow, it’s already apparent where the next big opportunity in the enterprise lies.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.