Get started in cloud computing with these foundational certs
Posted on
March 20, 2017
Get your head in the cloud with a certification.

As more individuals and organizations turn to cloud computing, global public cloud spending is slated in 2017 to reach $122.5 billion. According to International Data Corporation (IDC) that growth rate is almost seven times the rate of overall IT spending growth. IDC also expects public cloud spending to keep increasing worldwide until 2020 at an average of 21.5 percent per year. The U.S. alone accounts for 60 percent of public cloud revenues.

According to IDC, Software as a Service (SaaS) dominates the public cloud market, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) growing fast.

Why is cloud computing expanding?

The reason cloud computing is becoming the norm is because the cloud has something for everyone, whether individual users, start-up companies, small and medium businesses, large global enterprises, government organizations, and other entities.

The benefits are significant:

Cost β€” Migrating to the cloud does away with the need to invest in and maintain an expensive IT infrastructure and reduces power consumption.

Flexibility β€” Being able to scale up or down according to the needs of a business saves time and expense.

Collaboration β€” Visibility and easy access to data and files, anytime and anywhere, streamlines collaboration and facilitates decision making, which in turn enhances productivity.

Performance β€” The big cloud providers maintain state-of-the-art hardware, offering businesses the benefit of efficient and rapid computing.

Dependability β€” Storing data in the cloud rather than onsite is less risky and makes disaster recovery easier.

Cloud computing certifications

Many IT professionals currently working with cloud computing technologies have learned on the job. Experience is a good thing, because most cloud certifications require a certain amount of hands-on experience. Any experience one can obtain is beneficial, because cloud administrators, developers and architects are in demand. Here are five certifications to will help you get in the cloud computing arena:

CompTIA Cloud+

The vendor-neutral CompTIA Cloud+ is an accredited and internationally recognized certification for IT pros looking to develop virtualization and cloud computing skills. According to CompTIA, Cloud+ validates one's ability to implement and maintain cloud-related technologies. This certification is also 17024 compliant.

Candidates for Cloud+ must have a minimum of 2-to-3 years of practical experience in IT networking, data center administration, or storage. Knowledge of at least one server virtualization technology is a plus.

The 90-minute exam, comprising 100 multiple-choice questions, tests proficiency in virtualization, cloud models, infrastructure, resource management and cyber security.

Candidates can study independently or in a classroom setting. There's also plenty of training material available. CompTIA recommends CompTIA Authorized Quality Content (CAQC) study materials. Once you're prepared for the test, you may buy an exam voucher from the CompTIA Marketplace and then choose a suitable location and date.

Cloud+ is valid for three years from the exam date, after which it can be renewed.

CCNA Cloud

CCNA Cloud offers practical, job-oriented training and certification aimed at enabling network and cloud engineers and administrators to develop the skills necessary to deliver and maintain Cisco cloud solutions.

In order to sit for the certification exam, candidates must have first cleared the CLDFND and the CLDADM. The CLDFND tests knowledge of Cisco Cloud solutions, including characteristics and deployment models of cloud infrastructure. An understanding of the fundamentals of computer networks and storage are required for the CLDFND exam. CLDADM tests expertise in Cisco Cloud administration, including provisioning, monitoring, reporting and resolution.

The Cisco website lists self-study material and online learning resources (such as CCNA Cloud Study Group), as well as authorized-learning-partner content. According to Cisco, taking a training course authorized by them is a good way to prepare for the exam. CCNA Cloud is valid for three years, and certificate holders may recertify by passing one of the specified exams before their certification expires.

AWS Associate Certifications

Amazon is still the public cloud leader. As of February 2017, Amazon held a greater than 40 percent share of the IaaS and PaaS market. Amazon believes that hands-on experience is the best preparation for their certification exams. As a result, the three AWS Associate certifications are meant for IT pros whp have worked with Amazon Web Services for at least a year and have expertise in at least one programming language.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

Candidates for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification are expected to have experience in designing distributed systems and applications on AWS for at least one year. The exam will test a candidate's ability to develop and deploy systems on AWS, move applications from premises to AWS, transfer data to and from AWS, choose the appropriate AWS service according to requirements and outline best practices for developing applications on AWS.

AWS provides official training and study material to prepare for the exam. Architecting on AWS is an instructor-led program designed to develop technical proficiency and best practices. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate Exam Guide details what you will need to learn and has useful sample questions.

AWS Certified Developer - Associate

This certification demonstrates that you have the technical proficiency to develop, implement and support AWS applications. The exam tests a candidate's ability to choose appropriate AWS services, write code and secure the application, using credentials, encryption and IAM roles. Exam preparation resources are listed on the website. The Developing on AWS course combines instructor-led training with hands-on labs and is available live and online.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate

SysOps Administrator validates technical proficiency in deploying, operating and managing AWS systems. It is intended primarily for systems administrators and developers working in a DevOps role. The Systems Operations on AWS course trains candidates to use AWS tools and technologies to develop AWS resources for automated and recurring deployment. Training options are virtual or classroom training.


The VMware Certified Associate 6 - Data Center Virtualization certification validates the ability to handle the technical requirements necessary to manage a VMware vSphere 6 environment as well as knowledge of vSphere-compatible technologies and products.

While there are no specific perquisites, VMware recommends candidates complete the Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals course, which is free and available online. A Practice Exam is available for students to review what they've learnt. As VMware asserts, however, the exam isn't comprehensive and students are advised to consider other learning resources.

The 75-minute online exam comprises 50 single- and multiple-choice questions.

MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

This certification demonstrates that you have expertise in networking, virtualization, storage, identity and systems management and cloud technologies, and are capable of managing a state-of-the-art data center.

As of 2017, candidates must first earn one of the following certifications:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2016
  • MCSA: Cloud Platform
  • MCSA: Linux on Azure
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012


Get your head in the cloud with a certification.

The MCSA: Linux on Azure requires the Linux Foundation Certified System (LCFS) exam in addition to a Microsoft exam. You will also need to clear an elective exam, which must be different than any of the MCSA exams.

Microsoft offers both online and classroom training options to help prepare for their exams. Learning options include resources, instructor-led training, practice tests and an online community (@MSLearning), all of which are listed on the exam-specific Learning page of the Microsoft website. You'll also find a list of learning partners on the page. Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) offers free preparation materials and courses on cloud development. Currently, this MCSE doesn't need to be recertified, but you have the option of passing a different elective exam every year and listing it on your certificate.

Take action

With the rapid growth of cloud computing, accomplished and certified cloud professionals are increasingly in demand. While cloud architects attract high salaries, cloud developers and administrators also earn decent incomes. Choosing the right path and earning an appropriate cloud credential can be the doorway to a rewarding career.

About the Author

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit. She is a wanderer who spends time in West Bengal, Goa and any place that pulls.

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