The Document Foundation on Wednesday announced the availability of new certifications for IT pros working with its LibreOffice productivity suite, aimed at growing the products' heretofore-limited user base and making them more attractive to the enterprise.
The foundation said in a statement that there would be three key areas of focus for the new LibreOffice Migrations and LibreOffice Training Professionals certification: Feasibility and management of transitions to LibreOffice, creating and assessing training courses for new users, and level 3 support.
"LibreOffice certification is an absolute first for a community-based project, and has been developed [by] adapting existing best practices to the different reality of the TDF ecosystem," said certification committee chairman Italo Vignoli in the statement.
The certification will be available to foundation members and active contributors and volunteers until April 2015, at which point certification will be open to all. There will be no charge, but applicants will need to present plans for training exercises, migration plans and a host of other documents.
LibreOffice is generally thought to be the most compelling open-source alternative to Microsoft's products available, in terms of traditionally structured desktop office suites, but it still lags far behind Office a 2013 Forrester report found that just 5% of institutions surveyed offered any open-source productivity software, a figure that includes users of rival OpenOffice.
What it doesn't include is people who download LibreOffice independently of their workplaces, whose numbers have been a point of contention between OpenOffice and LibreOffice. The older suite's backers have accused The Document Foundation of presenting exaggerated figures in the past.
The need to grow LibreOffice's user base is apparent even in the description of the foundation's new certifications, which call on certificate holders to be "LibreOffice ambassadors."
"In fact, certification is a key milestone for building the LibreOffice ecosystem, and increase the number of organizations capable of adding value on top of LibreOffice (and help to grow the adoption rate over proprietary office suites)," the guidelines say in part. "Certification is also going to represent an additional opportunity for [The Document Foundation], in the medium to long term, to sustain the growth of the ecosystem."
While it seems doubtful that the new certification program can propel LibreOffice to broader enterprise uptake on its own, The Document Foundation clearly has its focus on a bigger niche for its office suite.
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