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Thursday, 02 March 2017 16:44

Top 5 cloud computing certifications for 2017

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IT professionals with proven cloud computing skills are in high demand. As organisations continue to invest in cloud, the need for industry-standard cloud certifications is increasing rapidly.

Enterprises and small businesses continue to adopt and invest in cloud technology at an accelerated rate. Experts agree that the public cloud market is entering a second wave, fuelled by enterprise adoption, and hybrid cloud is also now on the rise.

This large-scale migration towards the cloud – bolstered by investment from enterprise – is a brilliant opportunity for professionals who can prove their cloud knowledge with recognised certifications.

Certification, training and experience are three of the top four most important attributes when hiring for a cloud-related position, according to Microsoft and IDC.

But there’s a huge number of cloud qualifications. Which ones should savvy cloud professionals aim to achieve this year?

Using Firebrand’s internal data, and salary statistics from ITJobsWatch, we’ve identified the top 5 cloud computing certifications for 2017.

1. (ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

By 2021, 25% of corporate data traffic will flow directly from mobile devices to the cloud, bypassing enterprise security controls, predicts Gartner.

Businesses are now realising the massive need for better cloud security; as a result, the cloud security market is expected to reach £7 billion by 2019.

The Certified Cloud Security Professional certification is backed by two leading global non-profits focused on cloud information security: Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)2 themselves.

This certification builds on existing high-level (ISC)2 certifications – professionals with the CISSP are immediately eligible to take the CCSP exam. Pass it and you’ll prove your expert knowledge of cyber security, information management and cloud computing at the highest level.

A reflection of industry best-practices for cloud security, the CCSP will prove your expert knowledge of cloud application, platform and data infrastructure security.

There’s also a focus on compliance, legality, audit processes and privacy issues - particularly important with the arrival of the GDPR in April 2018.

If your role involves managing and securing cloud environments or purchased cloud services, the CCSP certification is ideal for you. Plus, as a high level certification, CCSP holders can expect to command an average salary of £60,000 (ITJobsWatch).

2. CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA is the leading provider of vendor-neutral certifications, having issued over two million certifications from its expansive portfolio.

CompTIA’s Cloud+ is the non-profit’s second foray into cloud technology; don’t confuse it with the Cloud Essentials certification, which focuses on the wider cloud environment and is geared to non-IT professionals.

Instead, the Cloud+ certification is a robust certification aimed at professionals with 1-2 years’ experience. Achieving this certification will prove your knowledge of vendor-neutral cloud computing and virtualisation skills across seven domains:

  • Cloud concepts and models
  • Virtualisation
  • Infrastructure
  • Network Management
  • Security
  • Systems Management
  • Business continuity

If you already hold the Network+, Security+ or Server+, this certification can be seen as the next step in your certification path, providing you with the knowledge you need to implement cloud technology.

The certification is compliant with ISO 17024 standards and is highly valued as it comes from CompTIA, the non-profit IT Industry Trade Association. 

Achieve the Cloud+ by passing the 90 minute CV0-001 exam. Once gained, it’s valid for three years and must be recertified by accumulating 50 continuing education units (CPE). More information on recertification can be found here.

Note: Whilst ITJobsWatch doesn’t list salaries for the Cloud+, the average salary for cloud computing professionals is an impressive £53,000.

3. Cisco CCNA Cloud

“Cisco does not mess around when it comes to certifications. If you’re going to tackle the CCNA, then you had better know your stuff” warns GoCertify author, David Telford

The CCNA Cloud has a reputation as a tough certification to achieve, but it’s worth the investment. Cisco sets the industry standard for network equipment, no matter where you go there’s a good chance you’ll be working with Cisco equipment. Plus, the average salary for a CCNA certified professional is £40,000.

To achieve the CCNA Cloud, you’ll need to pass two exams (CLDFND & CLDAMD), which will challenge your knowledge of Cisco products and solutions, including some vendor-neutral topics for good measure.

Studying for this certification will boost your knowledge of cloud deployments, cloud compute, end-user support and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

Whilst there are no official prerequisites, you should be realistic. Even with a solid background in networking, through the CCENT or Network+ certifications, you may still struggle to master this challenging material.

Luckily, Cisco provide a comprehensive set of learning materials on their Learning Network. There are also a number of Cisco-published books as well as classroom training.

4. Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure was introduced as part of a major certification restructure that saw Microsoft retire the MCSE: Private Cloud certification and retire 24 exams in 2017.

This advanced certification recognises your ability to manage data centres and proves your knowledge of virtualisation, systems and identity management, storage and other cloud technologies.

To achieve the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, candidates must first obtain one of the following MCSA certifications:

-          MCSA: Windows Server (2012 or 2016 versions)

-          MCSA: Cloud Platform

-          MCSA: Linux on Azure

This MCSE certification is a potentially long-term investment as each MCSA requires two or three exams. You’ll then need to pass one additional MCSE specialty exam, which can include (but not limited to) the following Azure exams:

-          70-532 - Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

-          70-533 - Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

-          70-534 - Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

-          70-473 - Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions

The full list of exams can be found here.

In response to the growing cloud skills gap, Microsoft has introduced a number of new initiatives to make Azure more accessible to professionals. In addition to those found on the Microsoft Virtual Academy, there are now six free online Azure courses available. As part of this initiative discounted exam vouchers are available and be used across all Azure training.

Plus, the average salary for job postings including Microsoft Azure skills is a comfortable £50,000.

5. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its certification programme in May 2013 and offers three associate level and two professional-level certifications.

Despite having no official prerequisites, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is aimed squarely at professionals with in-depth programming experience and good prior knowledge of AWS.

Achieve this certification and you’ll learn how to design and deploy scalable and highly available applications on AWS, including how to select the appropriate AWS Service to deploy them on.

This certification is a great distinguisher, proving to partners and competitors that you’re a highly valuable AWS professional. It also comes with a good salary – AWS Architects earn £72,500 on average (ITJobsWatch).

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