Throughout the past several years, no other area of IT has generated as much hype, interest and investment as cloud computing. Though the term can have different meanings for different users, there’s no doubt that the cloud is now a permanent fixture for end users and service providers, as well as companies and organizations of all sizes around the world. As a result, cloud computing attracts considerable coverage and attention from certification providers and companies that offer cloud-related products, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and VMware.
Amazon Web Services – launched its AWS certification program in May 2013. Currently, the program offers three associate-level and two professional-level certifications.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional: certification aims at networking professionals with two or more years of experience designing and deploying cloud environments on AWS. A person with this credential works with clients to assess needs, plan and design solutions that meet requirements; recommends an architecture for implementing and provisioning AWS applications; and provides guidance throughout the life of the projects.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: Identifies and gathers requirements for solution plans and provides guidance on architectural best practices throughout AWS projects. Serves as the prerequisite credential for the professional-level certification.
- AWS Certified Developer – Associate: Designs, develops and implements cloud-based solutions using AWS.
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate: Provisions systems and services on AWS, automates deployments, follows and recommends best practices, and monitors metrics on AWS.
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional: Provisions, operates and manages distributed applications using AWS; implements and manages delivery systems, security controls, governance and compliance validation; defines and deploys monitoring, metrics and logging systems; maintains operational systems.
With about 40 percent market share, Amazon continues to hold the top spot in the cloud computing services market (Synergy Research). That makes the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional credential a feather in the cap of channel partners for whom AWS is a major part of their business.
CCNA Cloud – Cisco Certified Network Administrator Cloud, an entry-level credential. The CCNA Cloud targets IT professionals working in roles such as network or cloud engineer and cloud administrator. The CCNA Cloud credential validates a candidate’s ability to support cloud-based Cisco solutions. Candidates should possess a basic knowledge of cloud infrastructure and deployment models, cloud networking and storage solutions, provisioning, preparation of reports, ongoing monitoring and other cloud administrative tasks.
Two exams are required to earn the CCNA Cloud. Training is highly recommended, but not required. The credential is valid for three years, after which the credential holder must re-certify by passing one of the qualifying re-certification exams.
CCNP Cloud – Cisco Certified Network Professional Cloud, as the certification name implies, this is a professional-level credential for experienced cloud practitioners. Candidates should be well-versed in cloud-related technologies, such as Cisco Intercloud and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and cloud models (hybrid, private, public).
The requirements to earn the CCNP Cloud credential are rigorous. Candidates must first obtain either the CCNA Cloud or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. In addition, candidates must pass four additional exams covering cloud design, implementing and troubleshooting, automation and building applications using ACI. Training is highly recommended as the best way to prepare for CCNP Cloud exams. The credential is valid for three years, after which the credential holder must re-certify by passing one of the qualifying re-certification exams.
MCSE – Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, each MCSA requires two or three exams depending on the chosen path. The MCSA: Linux on Azure credential requires both a Microsoft exam and the Linux Foundation Certified System (LFCS) exam. Candidates must also pass an MCSE exam.
VCP7-CMA – VMware Certified Professional, to earn the VCP7-CMA, candidates need to follow one of these paths:
- Path 1 (for current VCP6-CMA credential holders): Candidates who already possess a valid VCP6-CMA certification need only complete VMware Certified Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation (VCP7-CMA) Exam 2V0-731 to earn the certification.
- Path 2 (for current VCP credential holders): Candidates who already possess a valid VCP credential need only pass Exam 2V0-731: VMware Certified Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation.
- Path 3 (for expired VCP credential holders): Candidates who hold any expired VCP certifications must obtain six months of experience on vSphere 6 and vRealize, take a training course and pass Exam 2V0-620: vSphere 6 Foundations Exam or Exam 2V0-602 vSphere 6.5 Foundations Exam, plus complete Exam 2V0-731: VMware Certified Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation.
- Path 4 (for non-VCP credential holders): Candidates who are just starting with VCP7-CMA must gain six months of experience with vSphere 6 and vRealize, take the required training course, and pass the required exams mentioned in Path 3 above.
VMware offers additional credentials with strong cloud connections, such as these:
- VMware Certified Advanced Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation Design (VCAP7-CMA Design)
- VMware Certified Design Expert 7 — Cloud Management and Automation (VCDX7-CMA)
Beyond the Top 5
Although it didn’t make the top five list this year, the CompTIA Cloud+ is still an excellent entry-level credential for those looking for a foundation-level credential. More experienced practitioners should check out Dell’s EMC Cloud Architect (EMCCA) certifications, which also dropped out of the top five list this year.
You’ll find vendor-specific cloud certifications from companies such as Google, HPE, IBM (search for “cloud”), Oracle, Red Hat, Rackspace (CloudU), CA AppLogic and Salesforce. On the vendor-neutral side, the Certified Cloud Technology Professional (CCTP) aims at those just getting started with cloud technologies and aren’t tied to any specific platform. Mirantis offers performed-based OpenStack and Kubernetes certifications at the associate and professional levels. And while it’s a relative newcomer, the vendor-neutral National Cloud Technologists Association (NCTA) CloudMASTER certification is also worth your attention. Candidates must achieve three prerequisite certifications or pass a challenge exam to earn the CloudMASTER.