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CompTIA Cloud Essentials and other vendor-neutral certificates

Cloud certificates will soon be a must for today's IT pros. Now's the time to learn about CompTIA Cloud Essentials and other exams on the market.

Knowledge of cloud technology is fast becoming a must for IT admins wanting to stay competitive in the industry. Several vendors have added cloud certificates to their lineups, capitalizing on the in-demand nature of those technologies around the world.

VMware's updated list of certifications now includes both Cloud and Cloud Application Platform, and Microsoft recently introduced the MCSE Private Cloud exam. There is currently no vendor-neutral, virtualization-specific exam, but, when it comes to cloud certificates, you actually have more options to choose from.

Additional reading on IT certifications

The importance of virtualization certifications

Certificate options from major virtualization vendors

Is a virtualization certification right for you?

Whether you're already experienced in cloud computing or are just exploring the technology, now is the time to get to know the cloud certification market.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials

I achieved my Cloud Essentials certificate, an entry-level, vendor-neutral certification, last year.

The Cloud Essentials certification costs $191 and tests the following skills:

  • Characteristics of cloud services from a business perspective
  • Business value of cloud computing
  • Technical perspective and cloud types
  • Steps to successful cloud adoption
  • Effect and changes of the cloud on IT service management
  • Risks and consequences

The rumor mill indicates CompTIA will soon release a higher-level certification called the Cloud+ certification.

Cloud School and other certificates

Another vendor-neutral cloud certificate is the Cloud Certified Professional (CCP) from Cloud School, which also offers the Cloud Certified Technology Professional (CCTP) and the Cloud Certified Architect exams.

Other players in the cloud certificate market include the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) from the Cloud Security Alliance, the Cloud University (CloudU) from Rackspace and IBM Cloud Solutions Advisor -- Cloud Computing Architecture.

How do I choose which cloud certificate to pursue?

Still a cutting-edge technology, cloud computing and its certifications continue to evolve. This can complicate the process of choosing which certificate to pursue. To me, it seems you have two paths:

  1. Vendor-specific cloud certification. Both Microsoft and VMware have strong cloud certifications. If you want to specialize in one of their cloud computing platforms and prove your competency, you should choose one of those certification paths.
  2. Vendor-neutral cloud certification. If you do not wish to specialize in a particular vendor or platform, then a vendor-neutral cloud certification, such as the CompTIA Cloud Essentials certification, will help you prove strong cloud computing knowledge. If you are a security consultant, the CCSK is a good option. These certifications are easier to obtain than those from vendors, but still demonstrate you are cloud savvy.

Given that cloud computing is a volatile technology, the best advice I can give you is just to learn about it and obtain any certification that strikes your fancy. Bottom line: All cloud certifications still seem to give you bonus points with recruiters and hiring managers these days.

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