Only weeks after Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) completed the spinoff of the OpenStack Foundation, the vendor is proving it is still committed to the open source software that is no longer under its control. The company has announced a formal training and certification program that the channel can take advantage of to highlight skills and abilities in designing and deploying OpenStack environments.

This isn't the first time Rackspace has offered training to partners and customers, but it does represent a formalization of the process and an official certification that partners can use to differentiate themselves, said Tony Campbell, director of training and certification.

"This is a new area that we're venturing into. For the last year and a half, we've been trying our hands at this training opportunity," Campbell told Talkin' Cloud.

Rackspace has trained hundreds of IT professionals around the world on OpenStack since early 2011. The new certification marks an extension of its course catalog. The company expects to begin certifying pros shortly, and the expectation is thousands will be certified by year end, Campbell said. The performance-based exams will be available shortly through Rackspace and through a developing network of training partners, which the company is about to begin working with (to train the trainers, so to speak).

As Campbell noted, OpenStack is getting a lot of interest in the market, but there's a shortage of trained talent. By having at least a dozen training partners to begin with and working to get the number of certified professionals up into the thousands as quickly as possible, Rackspace hopes to make it easier for businesses to find the trained pros they need for their own deployments.

This could also play a key role in partner differentiation as they vie for the growing number of OpenStack platform design and deployment opportunities in the market.

The vendor is launching the new certification program with the Rackspace Certified Technician for OpenStack designation, which is a foundational certification that ensures IT professionals know how to use the platform. Two other designations are in the works for next year -- Rackspace Certified Application Developer for OpenStack and Rackspace Certified Dev/Ops Engineer for OpenStack. Campbell said the company also has plans to eventually develop and release an OpenStack architect certification, but that could still be some ways out.