San Antonio Tech Academy Creates Cybersecurity Course for Veterans

San Antonio—A technical career school affiliated with Rackspace is announcing a new training program focused on cybersecurity, a move that comes as more companies around the nation are seeking workers with highly technical training, especially in Internet security.

The Rackspace Open Cloud Academy is starting a 12-week course on cybersecurity for job-seeking veterans with experience in the field. The first classes begin next week and run through December. This initial class is a pilot program that’s only open to veterans, though Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) plans to make it a permanent course alongside the Cloud Academy’s other training tracks in network operations and Linux system administration .

“We anticipate future offerings to be open enrollment for those who meet entry requirements,” Deborah Carter, senior manager of the Open Cloud Academy, wrote in an e-mail sent by a Rackspace spokesperson. “Many of the veterans already have a certain level of security clearance status that is sought after by employers.”

San Antonio boasts a bevy of military-related cybersecurity, including the Air Force Cyber Command (the 24th Air Force division) and the National Security Agency’s Texas Cryptologic Center. The program is targeting veterans who have a national security clearance, as well as network certification from the Computing Technology Industry Association. For the pilot program, 15 veterans have enrolled.

The program may be attractive to veterans with experience in the cybersecurity, Carter says, because it guarantees internships for the graduates at a group of local companies, including Rackspace, USAA, and Accenture, among others.

“This is a great way for the veteran graduates to gain real-world skills and foster relationships for potential employment at their internship organization or elsewhere,” Carter wrote in an e-mail.

The news comes even as uncertainty rests around the future of Rackspace, which is in the midst of an acquisition by Apollo Global Management for $4.3 billion. Even so, Open Cloud Academy is continuing to grow in part because the school operates outside of the parameters of Rackspace as a separate business, though company’s administrators and instructors are Rackspace employees.

Rackspace opened Open Cloud Academy three years ago, offering nine-week training programs throughout the year that are open to the public and teach students how to be computer system administrators or to work in network operations. It was created as a talent funnel for Rackspace and other local startups or tech businesses, all of which were seeking more tech talent, the academy’s operations manager, Marcus Benavidez, told Xconomy in August. About 45 percent of the 400 graduates who have taken part in the nine-week courses for Linux administration or network operations work at Rackspace, Benavidez said.

Cybersecurity has seen significant growth as a sector in recent years nationwide, partly because of the seemingly ever-increasing number of hacks in almost every industry, from payroll providers to movie producers. To cash in on the demand, cybersecurity competitors are teaming up in Boston and California, while companies like Boulder, CO-based LogRhythm are using the boom time to raise capital, including a recent $50 million round. San Diego’s cybersecurity workforce has grown 15 percent since 2014. In Dallas, cybersecurity software company StackPath announced it was launching with a $180 million investment from Boston private equity firm Abry Partners, as well as 30,000 customers.

The Rackspace Cloud Academy program will offer preparation for exams that certify workers in cybersecurity, including the Computing Technology Industry Association security degree, as well as another certification (the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP) from a Clearwater, FL-based nonprofit called (ISC) ². The academy’s training also covers subjects such as becoming a network security administrator, role-based systems administration, wireless network security, and ethical hacking and penetration testing.

The 12-week course costs $16,000 per person, but the veterans’ tuition is being covered by a San Antonio economic development organization called Project Quest, as well as funds from the Department of Labor and the City of San Antonio. The typical nine-week Open Cloud Academy course costs $3,500.

The academy also runs a program each summer that aims to attract more women to IT, called Linux for Ladies.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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