Certifications in and on the cloud
If you use our GoCertify certification search tool, you'll find 63 hits when you search on the general category of "Cloud and Virtualization," of which 18 include the word "cloud" in their names, and more than half of which include at least a partial focus on cloud computing in their coverage. Other sources mention large numbers of such credentials as well, including the following:
1. Anne Martinez, in a recent article for Certification Magazine, lists 22 "top" cloud credentials in three categories: cloud administrator (10), cloud architect (7), and cloud developer (5), while alluding to a plethora of additional items upcoming and uncovered.
2. In 2013, Mirek Burnejko listed 52 cloud certifications from 13 different sponsors (he calls them "vendors" but that term is not always exact) in his then-comprehensive list of all available such certs at the time.
3. The Best Cloud IT Certifications for 2014 story at Tom's IT Pro — I wrote this story in May 2014 with Mary Kyle — mentions a "Top 5" in this general area, with mentions of 28 more cloud-focused credentials.
4. My most recent survey of cloud certifications for TechTarget's SearchCloudSecurity.com website lists eight such certifications for 2013 (a 2015 update is due out by February 2015, and mentions nine items) restricted to the security arena only.
That's a lot of cloud certifications to consider for those interested in cultivating or demonstrating expertise in this growing and increasingly important IT niche.
How, then, might you go about picking a cloud certification that's right for you? Here are some tips to factor into your selection process:
1. Pick the right level to get going. If you're a relative newbie to cloud computing, pick a cert that aims at the entry level. There are lots of "foundation" certifications to help you get your head around this stuff, including CompTIA's Cloud Essentials and Cloud+, among many others. There are lots of intermediate/practitioner, and advanced/specialist credentials as well, more suitable for those who have already poked their nose into the clouds, seeking to demonstrate or validate more specialized or focused skills and knowledge.
2. Pick the right sponsor to focus your expertise appropriately. This invariably means a mix of vendor-neutral and vendor-specific credentials.V endor-neutral items (like those from CompTIA) help to establish general skills and competencies, and vendor-specific elements provide proof of skills and knowledge related to specific cloud platforms, tools, or technologies. For the latter, the most important criteria include picking from vendor offerings for those elements in your workplace (or in the workplaces of prospective or desirable future employers).
3. Stick with credible sponsors: Some so-called certification offerings represent little more than thinly-veiled inducements to attend online or in-class training to help boost the bottom lines of their sponsors, and not much else. Be sure to check a) that the program you're looking at has been around for a while (I normally say "five years or more," but cloud stuff is so new, I'll relax that to "two years or more" for this subject matter); b) that the certs are recognized in the marketplace (visit job posting sites such as Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com, Dice.com, and so forth, and make sure that job postings mention any cert of interest by name at least a few times, if not in larger numbers); and c) that your peers and colleagues have at least heard of a cert. Do all of that before plunking down any money to chase after it, or spending your time and energy likewise.
If you do your homework carefully, and follow these few simple rules in choosing the cloud certs that you wish to pursue, then you'll be far more likely to benefit from your choice(s) than otherwise. Enjoy your foray into the cloud, and Happy New Year!