Tuesday, 9 January 2018

10 Best Cloud Certifications For 2018

10 Best Cloud Certifications 2018 header image

IT professionals with proven cloud computing skills are in high demand and 40% of businesses are now struggling to find the qualified employees needed.

This widespread cloud migration – boosted by investment from enterprise – is a brilliant opportunity for the professionals who can prove their knowledge with recognised cloud certifications. But with dozens of cloud certifications available, and more introduced every month, how do you decide which to achieve?

Using Firebrand Training’s insider industry knowledge, we’ve identified the most in-demand and valuable cloud certifications available this year. These are the 10 best cloud certifications for 2018:

  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • (ISC)² CCSP
  • Microsoft MCSA: Cloud Platform
  • Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
  • Microsoft MCSA: Linux on Azure
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
  • Google Professional Cloud Architect
  • Cisco CCNA Cloud
  • Cisco CCNP Cloud

Read on for an in-depth look at the top 10 cloud certifications of 2018. This list (in no particular order) covers certifications from Microsoft, Google, CompTIA, Cisco and more.

1. CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA is the world’s leading provider of vendor-neutral certifications, having issued over two million since 1993. Alongside longstanding industry certifications, like the A+ and Network+, CompTIA also provide two cloud computing certifications: Cloud+ and Cloud Essentials.

The CompTIA Cloud+ is a robust entry-level certification aimed at professionals with 1-2 years’ experience working with networks, storage or data centre admin. Not to be confused with CompTIA’s Cloud Essentials, which is designed as an introduction to cloud for non-IT professionals.

Passing the single Cloud+ certification exam will prove your knowledge of cloud models, virtualisation, infrastructure, security, resource management and business continuity.

The Cloud+ makes this top list because it provides a great route into cloud technology for professionals who already hold CompTIA certifications. If you hold the Server+, Network+ or Security+, the Cloud+ is the next logical step.

And new for 2018, CompTIA’s stackable certification provides an even more compelling reason to achieve multiple certifications. Achieve both the Network+ and Cloud+ and you’ll be designated as a CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional. More information on stackable certifications can be found from CompTIA.

That said, you won’t need to study any other CompTIA certifications to sit the CompTIA Cloud+ exam; no CompTIA certifications are defined as prerequisites.

With a wide variety of topics, you’ll get a solid base of cloud knowledge, making this certification a great way to kick off any career in cloud technology in 2018.

2. (ISC)² CCSP

Migrating your business to the cloud could reveal unforeseen security flaws, potentially lengthening an already resource-intensive project. There’s a clear need for good cloud security and the market is expected to reach £7billion by 2019.

The CCSP certification (Certified Cloud Security Professional) builds and proves cloud security skills at an expert level and is backed by two leading non-profits: Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)².

CCSP Certification

This high-level qualification builds on knowledge gained from the renowned CISSP – holders of this cert are prequalified to sit the CCSP exam. Otherwise, you’ll need to satisfy rigorous prerequisites, including a minimum of five years full-time work experience in IT.

You’ll demonstrate your expert knowledge of cloud application, platform and data infrastructure security. You’ll even focus on compliance, legality, audit processes and privacy – particularly relevant with the introduction of GDPR in May 2018.

If you're responsible for managing and securing cloud environment, (ISC)²’s CCSP is among the best expert-level certifications you can get in 2018.

3. Microsoft MCSA: Cloud Platform

The Microsoft MCSA: Cloud Platform certification links together what was previously Microsoft’s Specialist qualifications (now retired). There are a total of 5 Azure specific exams – but you’ll only need to pass two to earn this certification:

Microsoft’s new MCSA and MCSE tracks mean that professionals now get more choice in choosing the exams required to achieve their certifications. This means you can now pick the specific exams that fit your own interest, expertise and experience. You’ll achieve your MCSA in a way that is more personalised to you.

For example, the topics covered in the MCSA: Cloud Platform can range from Big Data to infrastructure and development.

Finding it tough to choose which exams to pass in 2018? Chris Pietschmann of Build Azure has stepped in to provide some potential combinations:

  • Azure / Cloud Developer
    • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Infrastructure and Architecture
    • 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
    • 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • Big Data Architect
    • 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Data and Big Data
    • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Big Data Developer
    • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions

With this amount of choice, it’s now more rewarding than ever to achieve the MCSA: Cloud Platform. But why stop there?

4. Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

The MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification recognises your ability to manage datacentres and builds your knowledge of networking, virtualization, systems and identity management, storage and related cloud technologies. This is Microsoft’s most advanced cloud certification and should be considered among the top achievements of a cloud professional’s career.

MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification track

The path to MCSE is now faster than ever - and that’s without even considering Firebrand’s accelerated courses.

Achieving the MCSA: Cloud Platform and the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure requires just three exams – that’s two exams for the MCSA and one additional elective to boost your certification to an MCSE!

In fact, when considering every potential elective, the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure now hosts 10 elective exams to choose from. After all, you don’t have to achieve the MCSA: Cloud Platform first, any of the following MCSAs are prerequisites for this MCSE:

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

As Azure continues to catch up with Amazons huge cloud market share, this is the ideal time to achieve your MCSE certification. What are you waiting for?

5. Microsoft MCSA: Linux on Azure

The MCSA: Linux on Azure certification caters to the one million plus Azure servers running on Linux and provides Linux specialists with a path to transfer their skills directly into Azure.

Get certified and you’ll learn how to deploy, configure, host and manage Linux websites on Azure. You’ll also learn how to take advantage of Azure’s key features, including PowerShell, and study Azure Active Directory, virtual machines and virtual networks using Linux.

6. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is well-established as the cloud market leader with further plans for expansion in 2018.

Launched in 2013, AWS offers three certification tracks: Architecting, Developing and Operations. Each track is composed of two levels: Associate and Professional.

The first level of the Architecting track - AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate – is built for professionals that want to design and deploy apps and services using AWS. You’ll also learn how to make use of key cloud features, like scalability, high availability and geo-redundancy.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification

Despite being the first certification in the track, this is by no means entry-level. Before attempting the exam, AWS recommend you take two short virtual courses: Architecting on AWS and AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate.

With AWS’ massive market share, building your skills across this platform will give your career a boost in 2018. “AWS will continue to benefit from its first-mover advantage, broadest cloud services portfolio and strong awareness among developers,” says cloud research analyst Daniel Liu.

7. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Build on your AWS Associate certification with the Certified Solutions Architect Professional. As the highest level in the Architect track, this cert designates you as among the top AWS architects.

You’ll prove your advanced technical skills and experience in designing distributed applications and systems. With this credential, you’ll work to design and build solutions that meet client AWS requirements, recommend architecture and provision AWS apps.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional certification

The prerequisites are high – you’ll need to have two or more years’ hands-on experience with cloud architecture on AWS and the ability to provide best practice guidance on architecture across enterprises. Of course, you’ll also need to possess the Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification.

8. Google Professional Cloud Architect

According to some experts, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) appears to be growing as quickly as Azure, with usage climbing from 10% to 15% in 2017.

With a reputation for openness that appeals to startups, GCP is an attractive offering to many businesses; Google developed the Kubernetes standard that AWS and Azure now offer and GCP specialises in big data, analytics and machine learning.

Prove your knowledge by certifying with one of Google Cloud Platform’s certifications. Consider achieving the Professional Cloud Architect certification, proving your ability to leverage GCP within organisations.

You’ll get a thorough understanding of cloud architecture and GCP as you design, develop and manage robust solutions.

With the weight of Google behind GCP, there’s massive potential for the provider to increase its market share. Become an expert on GCP now and it may pay dividends further down the line.

9. Cisco CCNA Cloud

Cisco is a household name, setting the industry standard for network equipment – wherever you work, there’s a good chance you’ll be using Cisco equipment.

To support its products, Cisco has a massive range of training and certification available (for a closer look, read this comprehensive Cisco certification guide).

Cisco offers two cloud certifications, both of which make this top list: The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cloud and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Cloud.

The entry-level CCNA Cloud targets IT pros working as cloud engineers and administrators. It proves your ability to support cloud-based Cisco solutions and that you possess a basic knowledge of cloud infrastructure and deployment.

You’ll need to pass two exams to earn this CCNA and training is highly recommended – though not required. Despite a lack of any official prerequisites, professionals must still be realistic about their own experience before attempting the two certification exams: CLDFND & CLDADM.

Even with a strong professional background and networking certifications like the CCENT or Network+, this may prove to be a challenging certification to acquire, especially through self-study.

10. Cisco CCNP Cloud

The follow-up to the CCNA Cloud, the CCNP Cloud is built to prove skills of administrators, designers, architects, engineers and data centre pros working in cloud environments.

This certification is aimed at experienced cloud practitioners; you should be highly experienced in Cisco Intercloud, IaaS and cloud models. Plus, the CCNP isn’t just theory-based and to be successful in these exams, you’ll need the skills needed to design and implement cloud and network infrastructure solutions.

Requirements for this cloud certification are rigorous. You’ll need to achieve the CCNA Cloud certification and then successfully pass four exams, covering content on cloud design, implementing and troubleshooting.

10 Best Cloud Certifications 2018