The Growing Importance of Cloud Certifications

The Growing Importance of Cloud Certifications
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Bernard Golden

Published on August 16, 2016


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Cloud computing has clearly, unmistakably, moved into the mainstream of enterprise IT. AWS announced its numbers last week: 58% growth, with total quarterly revenue jumping from $1.8 billion to $2.89 year over year. In other words, AWS grew its quarterly revenues by over one billion dollars in the space of a year!

There’s more evidence of how embedded cloud computing is in the future of enterprise IT. As I wrote a couple of months ago in analyzing a JP Morgan CIO survey, the shift to the cloud is accelerating: while today only 16% of all enterprise applications are deployed in the cloud, that number will grow to 41% in five short years.

What these two data points tell us is that cloud computing must now be a core competency of all IT organizations. No longer can cloud computing be dismissed as the province of SMBs or startups, or denigrated as “shadow IT.” Instead, IT organizations must be ready to design, deploy, monitor, and manage cloud-based applications.

That brings with it a new challenge: cloud skills. While security has traditionally been cited by IT executives as the biggest issue holding back cloud adoption, 2016 sees a new barrier impeding adoption: organization skills. In a recent survey conducted by cloud management company RightScale, lack of resources/expertise has emerged as the #1 challenge regarding cloud computing -- 32% vs. only 29% citing security as the biggest challenge.

This makes sense, of course. When a technology moves beyond early adopters and becomes the de facto platform for applications, it requires building a foundation of technology skills across the organization. This is not new with cloud computing. We’ve seen the same trend with VMware and Microsoft before it.  

And, just as we witnessed with VMware and Microsoft, we’ll see an increasing demand for certifications -- by both individuals and organizations.

For individuals, the motive for obtaining cloud certifications is clear: demonstrating competence and gaining a competitive edge in the job market. Having a certification demonstrates core knowledge and indicates the individual holds a demonstrable level of skills.

For organizations, cloud certifications are just as important, but for different reasons:

1. First, organizations are buying, not selling skills. For them, looking for certifications is a way of determining base skill levels. While holding a certification may not indicate the holder is a domain-area genius, it does show that the certificate holder will be able to join a team and make a contribution.

2. Second -- and less appreciated, but perhaps more important -- organizations can, with certification training, guarantee that employees draw from a single, consistent knowledge base. This ensures that people can work together, use common terminology, and perform at a given level of expertise -- in short, certifications can be used to guarantee that employees across the department have a shared understanding of cloud computing, which can easily make the difference between project success and failure. Moreover, by creating a common knowledge base among employees, the systems the organization creates will share standardized designs and implementation, which will result in consistent operations which, in turn, will result in more efficiency and lower operational cost.

Now that cloud computing has hit the mainstream, one can expect to see certifications become a mainstream topic. And, as Rightscale’s survey indicates, skills are now the number one barrier to cloud adoption. Therefore, one can expect to see a huge rush over the next couple of years for cloud computing training and certifications. For individuals, obtaining a certification is a good way to improve personal marketability. For organizations, certifications will be a key action item now that cloud computing is a core competence. 

About the Author

Bernard Golden is the CEO of Navica & serves as advisor for CIO magazine. As the author of 4 books on virtualization and cloud computing, Bernard is a highly-regarded speaker and has keynoted cloud conferences around the world. Bernard is also among the ten most influential persons in cloud computing according to Wired.com


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