On the job cross-training also offers insight into two irrepressible facts about cloud computing, says Brett Adam, CTO of rPath, an enterprise platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company in Raleigh, N.C., that recently published the "Enterprise Cloud Adoption Framework", a document that outlines some best practices for cloud adoption. "The first is that automation is good. And the second is with automation, comes a reduction of choice. So being an IT professional working in the cloud, you've got to come to grips [that there are] fewer choices on how you build your apps, how you run your network, and how that drives the business," Adam says.
If on-the-job training is not available, the low entry price of cloud computing also comes in very handy for cross training purposes, says Chris Brenton, a cloud security architect at CloudPassage, a cloud server security company. He advises IT professionals to take advantage of the 30-day free trial subscriptions most cloud service providers offer potential customers as an opportunity to work with a broad range of products.
Another avenue for hands-on experience is to offer to do pro-bono work for non-profit organizations that need technical assistance to run more efficiently in the cloud.
Proving your cloud chops on paper
We were able to identify just two third-party cloud knowledge certifications - ComTIA's Cloud Essentials and its new Cloud+ Certification and the Cloud Security Alliance's Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) -- that carry any weight in the industry at this point.
However, having either on your resume is more a testament to general knowledge about how cloud computing works (in the case of the CompTIA certification) and the principles that IT professionals need to know to securely migrate operations to the cloud. Neither group claims that these certifications guarantee deep technical expertise in the cloud.
However, representatives of both indicated that future iterations of both prerequisite training and testing will move in that direction. Next year, CompTIA will be offering a Cloud Plus certification for which, Rick Bauer, a senior member of CompTIA's skills certification staff says that IT professionals will have to be "petty deep in the technical weeds" to collect a passing grade.
Neither organization will go on record to say exactly how many IT professionals have taken their tests or publish pass/fail rates, but both say that the numbers are rising rapidly.
Bauer did disclose that his firm was gearing up to administer between 500 and 1,000 Cloud Plus tests next year.
CSA's COO John Howie contends his outfit has seen a dramatic increase in people seeking out the CCSK in the past year.
"But an even better indication of the interest is the number of companies that are coming to us and saying they are requiring whole teams to become CCA accredited," says Howie, adding that the CSA responds to that by working with member training organization to complete on-site cloud training.
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