The cloud skills gap is widening and almost 40% of businesses are now struggling to find the qualified employees they need, according to Microsoft’s recent Cloud Skills Report. This is an incredible opportunity for professionals who can prove their cloud knowledge.
Determined professionals validate their knowledge and set themselves apart from the competition with training and certifications. The same report from Microsoft also found that tech leaders believe professionals with formal qualifications in cloud technologies are vital for success.
But as new certifications are introduced from every major cloud provider, where should you invest your time? These are the six cloud certifications to boost your career in 2017.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is established as the market leader in cloud, bringing in a titanic $12 billion for the Amazon subsidiary in 2016 – a 55% increase over the same period last year. AWS continues to expand with plans to open a fifth European region in Sweden.
Launched in May 2013, AWS offer three certification tracks – Architecting, Developing and Operations – designed to teach professionals the skills they need to use AWS. Each certification track is composed of two levels: Associate and Professional.
The first level of the Architecting track, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, is built for professionals who want to design and deploy applications and systems on AWS.
Professionals that achieve this certification will learn how to build and deploy applications on AWS, that make use of key cloud features, like scalability and high availability.
Despite being the first certification in the Architecting track, this is not entry-level. You must have in-depth programming experience and good prior knowledge of AWS before attempting the certification exam. To help professionals get to grips with the cloud provider, AWS recommend this online exam workshop.
The Certified Solutions Architect – Associate proves to employers, partners and clients that you’re a skilled AWS pro. Because of this, it consistently ranks as one of the highest paying certifications; AWS Architects earn a median salary of £75,000 (ITJobsWatch, 2017).
Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
Despite Amazon’s massive global cloud market share, Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure, is catching up. Azure’s popularity is increasing in Europe and recent reports rank Azure above AWS as the dominant provider of IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service).
The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure was introduced late in 2016 as part of a major restructure of Microsoft certifications. The overhaul saw Microsoft retire the MCSE: Private Cloud certification, alongside 24 other certifications.
This is Microsoft’s most advanced cloud certification and should be considered the crowning achievement of a cloud professional’s career. It recognises your ability to run efficient, modern data centres and qualifies you for high-responsibility jobs like cloud architect.
To achieve it, you’ll need to first obtain one of four Microsoft MCSA certifications:
- MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA: Windows Server 2016
- MCSA: Cloud Platform
- MCSA: Linux on Azure
As each MCSA requires 2-3 exams, this is a long-term investment. Once you’re MCSA is attained, you’ll then need to pass one additional elective exam to obtain your MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. There a wide range of potential choices, including these relevant exams:
- 70-473 – Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
- 70-532 – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- 70-533 – Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- 70-534 – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
(ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
Because migrating to the cloud can often result in unforeseen security vulnerabilities businesses are increasingly investing in better cloud security. As a result, the cloud security market is expected to reach £7 billion by 2019 and there is a massive demand for professionals with these skills.
(ISC)2’s Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) validates cloud security skills at the highest level. Backed by two leading non-profits – the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)2 – this certification proves expert knowledge of cloud cyber security and information management.
The CCSP builds on existing high-level (ISC)2 certifications and holders of the renowned CISSP are prequalified to take the CCSP exam. Otherwise, you’ll need to meet a lengthy set of prerequisites, including professional experience across multiple CCSP domains, like cloud data security, operations and legal/compliance.
However, it’s well worth it. The CCSP is a reflection of industry best-practices for cloud security and demonstrates your expert knowledge of cloud application, platform and data infrastructure security.
You’ll also get to grips with a focus on compliance, legality, audit processes and privacy – particularly important when GDPR is introduced in May 2018.
If your role involves managing and securing cloud environments, (ISC)2’s CCSP is one of the best certifications you can get.
CompTIA is the leading provider of vendor neutral certifications and has issued over two million certifications since its formation in 1993. Alongside industry stalwarts, like the immensely popular CompTIA A+, CompTIA also provides two cloud certifications.
The CompTIA Cloud+ is a robust certification aimed at IT professionals with 1-2 years’ experience working in networking, storage or data centre administration. Don’t confuse it with CompTIA’s Cloud Essentials Certification, aimed at non-IT professionals.
Passing the Cloud+ will prove your knowledge of cloud models, virtualisation, infrastructure, security, resources management and business continuity.
For professionals who already hold CompTIA certifications, like Server+, Network+ or Security+, the Cloud+ is the next logical step.
Whilst this is a great certification path, you won’t need to study any other CompTIA certifications to sit the CompTIA Cloud+. And with a wide variety of topics, you’ll get a solid base of cloud knowledge, making this certification a great way to kick off any career in cloud technology in 2017.
Cisco CCNA Cloud
Cisco’s CCNA Cloud is regarded as a challenging certification to achieve, but it’s well worth the investment. Cisco sets the industry standard for network equipment; wherever you work, there’s a good chance you’ll be working with Cisco equipment.
The CCNA Cloud focuses on preparing professionals for on-the-job situations, including how to perform crucial administration and maintenance tasks. You’ll study the basics of Cisco cloud infrastructure and administration, including services like: Cisco UCS and server virtualisation, United Fabric and Unified Storage.
Despite a lack of any official prerequisites, professionals must still be realistic about their own experience before attempting the two certification exams: CLDFND & CLDADM. Even with a solid networking background and certifications like CCENT or Network+, professionals may still struggle to master this challenging certification.
Microsoft MCSA: Linux on Azure
The MCSA: Linux on Azure certification arrived at the end of 2015, providing Linux specialists with a path to transfer their Linux skills directly into the Azure cloud.
Achieve this certification and you’ll learn to deploy, configure, host and manage Linux websites on Azure. You’ll also learn how to take advantage of Azure’s key features like Windows PowerShell and Xplat-CLI and study Azure Active Directory implementation, virtual machines and virtual networks – all incorporating Linux.
And with more than one million Azure servers running on Linux, this certification will be highly sought after in 2017.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their Cyber Security & Cloud use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.