Four Top Cloud Roles and the Certs to Get You There

The right cloud credential can help you get your foot in a lucrative door.

As cloud adoption surges, businesses that fail to catch up are missing out. According to data from cloud provider Rackspace, nearly three quarters of IT decision makers believe their organizations have lost revenue because of a lack of cloud expertise.


There's a growing need for businesses to bring in cloud skills — whether that's upskilling existing employees or hiring new ones. This is good news for anyone looking to gain cloud skills or move into a new role and demand is driving higher salaries.


But what cloud roles should you be working toward, and which certifications or skills will get you there? These are the roles and certifications you should focus on in 2018.


1. Cloud Architect


Relied on by businesses globally to shape their cloud strategy, Cloud Architects are enjoying demand for their skills that has never been higher. A search on the job site Indeed yields 30,000 open positions in the United States alone.


Cloud Architects are responsible for overseeing an organization's entire cloud estate, from assessing requirements to designing, planning, and deploying solutions — whether private, public or hybrid. These professionals may also specialise in cloud solutions, or be responsible for managing the infrastructure itself.


Gaining the right skills can be challenging. As with many new job roles, Cloud Architects lack a clear career path. Generally, you'll need experience across cloud computing, including virtualization, infrastructure, storage and software-defined networks.


Cloud providers do also provide certifications, however, tailored to their own cloud environments. So if you're working with a provider, or want to broaden your skills, certification is a compelling option.


To prove your skills with Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, consider pursuing the MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure credential. This high-level Microsoft certification matches the varying role of a Cloud Architect and certifies knowledge in Azure, server infrastructure, Big Data, and more.


And with many routes to achieve it, the qualification can be personalized to suit you. Whatever your route to this MCSE, be sure to take on the Architecting Microsoft Solutions course (40442A). Pass the accompanying exam, and you'll prove your ability to define functional, operational, and deployment requirements for Azure cloud solutions.


If you're more familiar with Amazon Web Services (AWS), don't worry. There's still the opportunity to prove your skills. AWS manages its own certification portfolio. And while not as comprehensive as Microsoft, these certifications are recognised globally as an opportunity for architects to prove their knowledge.


The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certifications are available in two levels: Associate and Professional. Achieve the Professional certification and you'll learn the skills needed to design and implement scalable cloud services on AWS. You'll also cover costing and security — key considerations for any cloud professional.


2. Cloud Consultant


Cloud Consultants are flexible professionals who are relied upon for their in-depth knowledge of cloud computing. These consultants will assist organizations by performing a variety of evaluations for their clients. These formal recommendations will eventually be brought to senior members of staff to be considered before implementation.


Strong technical skills will be required when assessing and understanding the cloud requirements of new clients. As with all consultant roles, you'll also need great communication and interpersonal ability — key when communicating cloud concepts with non-technical clients.


Contractors benefit from managing their own hours, choosing their clients and potentially earning more than corporate employees. Certifications are crucial to proving your knowledge and landing the best clients.


Depending on your current experience and goals, you'll want some certifications under your belt before making the transition to contracting. Aim to gain certifications from AWS or Azure to prove your technical skills with the leading cloud providers.


Alternatively, seasoned contractors may consider broadening their skillset to incorporate knowledge of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), a popular and still-emerging cloud service provider for small businesses (and some large ones).


The right cloud credential can help you get your foot in a lucrative door.

3. Cloud Security Professional


A 2018 report from Ingram Micro Cloud revealed that 83 percent of businesses prioritize a high level of security when assessing cloud solutions. The IT security landscape is altered by cloud technology — the boundary for attack is no longer the physical network, and security must focus on protecting cloud-based applications, data and identity.


On the heels of a stretch of cyber-misfortune that has seen top organisations like Yahoo! crack under pressure from massive data breaches, the need for qualified cloud security professionals is on the rise. Enterprises are now recruiting cloud security specialists to protect against threats by designing secure cloud solutions.


To break into a cloud security role, you'll need expert knowledge of security engineering, system and network security authentication and security protocols.


Security-focused cloud certifications are few and far between, but there are some well-supported qualifications that can provide professionals with a route to build and prove their cloud security knowledge.


The CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) was created by two leading security organisations, (ISC)2 and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). This expert certification proves high-level vendor-neutral knowledge of cloud security.


IT professionals can substitute the one-year requirement by earning Cloud Security Alliance's Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge — another viable certification for cloud security professionals — and they can replace the entire five-year requirement by earning the (ISC)2 CISSP.


4. Cloud Developer


"The days of writing an application that goes down or becomes unavailable are long gone — this is simply no longer acceptable," states IBM engineer, Dan Berg.


He's right: Users now expect applications to be available at all times. The only way to ensure this is to build resilient and robust apps — and the Cloud provides developers with the opportunity to do this. Building a highly available app isn't easy, however, and developers will need to first broaden their skillset.


The wide array of skills required by cloud developers is notorious and getting more complex all the time. Right now most Cloud Developer roles require knowledge of:


? .NET, particularly Microsoft Azure and/or Java and J2EE
? Python, Perl, or PHP
? Web services and APIs, as in RESTful and SOAP
? Agile practices
? Design patterns and UML
? Object-oriented programming
? Hibernate and MYBATIS


Currently, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most desired skill set for cloud developers — unsurprising considering AWS's large cloud market share. To prove your knowledge of cloud development on this leading platform, the AWS Certified Developer is the ideal track to choose.


You can currently only achieve the Associate level of the Certified Developer certification, but we would expect AWS to announce a Professional level in due course. Achieve this certification and you'll prove your ability to manage and maintain applications on the AWS platform.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Alex Bennett of Firebrand Training

Alex Bennett is a technical writer for Firebrand Training. Working at the forefront of the IT training industry, Alex uses his insider knowledge to write regularly on IT security, networking and cloud technology.