Where can you find cloud certifications? If you choose to get a cloud certification, should you obtain one from a certain cloud vendor -- such as AWS, Azure or Google -- or should you pursue a general-purpose cloud certification? Which categories of cloud computing certifications are available currently?
Those are all important questions for IT professionals to ask themselves in the present age of cloud-native everything. Keep reading for an overview of the main cloud computing certifications available today.
It's Raining Cloud Certifications
If there is one thing that the IT world has in abundance, it's cloud certifications. There are loads of certifications out there related to cloud platforms and specific cloud services.
This is unsurprising given the crucial importance of the cloud to modern IT careers. It's hard to imagine an IT-related job today that doesn't involve the cloud in one way or another. For this reason, getting certified to work with certain cloud services or workloads is a good way to remain competitive for IT jobs -- not to mention to expand your skillset as you prepare for the certification exams.
That said, there are so many certifications that it's not practical to pursue all of them. You have to be strategic about which cloud certifications to go after. To help you decide, this article discusses the major cloud computing certifications that are available today.
The article breaks the certifications into two distinct categories. First, we discuss certifications related to the big three cloud-computing platforms: AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.
The second part of the article discusses cloud certifications that deal with specific types of skills, such as cloud security or OpenStack administration, and that can be used when working on more than one cloud infrastructure.
AWS, Google and Azure Cloud Certifications
Each of the major cloud platforms offers its own cloud certification.
Amazon Web Services Certifications
AWS offers a large cloud computing certification program. It is broken into three main tiers: foundational, associate and professional. Each tier provides a different level of expertise, with foundational being the most basic tier.
In addition, the AWS cloud certification program is divided into different types of role-based categories. You can specialize in areas such as development, cloud architecture and application deployment at any of the three tiers listed above.
AWS also provides certifications special certifications in cloud networking, security and big data, which are not divided into varying tiers.
Should you get an AWS cloud computing certification? If you work extensively with AWS or want to apply to jobs where AWS expertise is a must, the answer is probably yes. In addition, the AWS specialty certifications in areas such as big data and cloud security could prove beneficial for proving theoretical skills that would apply in any type of cloud environment, even though these certifications focus on AWS at the implementational level.
Microsoft Azure Certifications
Azure's cloud certification program is similar to that of AWS in that it is broken into three tiers (MTA, MCSA and MCSE), as well as several different categories of practice.
However, the Azure cloud certifications areas of practice are somewhat broader than those of AWS. They are also more strongly oriented toward use cases, rather than specific types of cloud-computing infrastructure. You can specialize in areas such as "business applications," for example.
There is also a generic cloud architect certification for Azure. This certification is a good place to start if you are new to Azure or need to demonstrate basic proficiency in the Azure cloud.
Google Cloud Services Certifications
Google's cloud certification offerings are not quite as extensive as those of Azure and AWS. While Google provides two types of certifications in basic cloud engineering and design, its three other certifications focus on specific niches within the Google Cloud. These include data engineering and the administration of Google's G Suite cloud-based productivity platform.
If you want to prove your ability to work with specific solutions that are based in the Google Cloud, Google's cloud certifications are a useful resource. Because most of the Google certifications focus on topics that are very specific to Google Cloud, however, they may be less useful for gaining general-purpose, transferable knowledge of cloud computing.
In addition to the certifications discussed above that are associated with specific cloud platforms, IT professionals can gain certifications from other vendors that prove their ability to perform certain types of tasks in any cloud.
While the certifications available in this category are too numerous to list in full here, the following are the leading cloud computing certification options that you may wish to consider today.
CompTIA, which provides certifications in a broad range of areas related to IT, offers two types of cloud computing certifications.
The first, Cloud+, covers administration skills related to cloud infrastructures, including both public clouds and on-premise data centers.
The second, CompTIA Cloud Essentials, certifies a business-level understanding of the cloud. In other words, it's for people who want to understand (and demonstrate their understanding of) where the cloud fits into modern businesses, as opposed to practitioners.
IBM offers dozens of certifications that relate to the cloud. You can find a complete list by searching for "cloud" here.
Many of IBM's cloud certifications focus on IBM's Bluemix cloud. However, IBM also provides a few general-purpose cloud computing certifications, which are described here. These certifications will help prove your ability to design and implement cloud architectures on any cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Security Alliance
The Cloud Security Alliance offers a Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK). As the name implies, this cloud certification focuses on cloud security skills. The CCSK is one of the best-known certifications related to securing cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Genius's certification program is perhaps not as well known as the cloud certifications offered by the big-name cloud vendors. But it has become increasingly popular recently due in part to its focus on next-generation technologies that could run in the cloud, such as Docker containers. Cloud Genius also offers a boot camp to help prepare for the certification.
Red Hat OpenStack Certifications
If your current or future employers are likely to make use of OpenStack, the open source platform for building cloud infrastructure, you may want to take advantage of Red Hat's two OpenStack certifications.
Whether you want a cloud services certification to prove that you have acquired a certain level of expertise in a particular cloud platform, or to certify your skills for specific types of cloud skillsets, such as security, there's a cloud certification for you.