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March 12, 2013

Cloud Training, Certification Strives to Catch up

By Marie Lingblom

Demand for qualified IT talent by enterprises adopting cloud architectures, and a clear path that’s leaving desktops and wires behind, finds more cloud training and certification programs evolving. But, can they keep pace?

A recent IDC white paper predicts demand for “cloud-ready” IT workers will grow by 26 percent annually through 2015. At the same time, says IDC, 7 million cloud-related jobs will be available worldwide.

IT hiring managers told IDC the biggest reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7 million open cloud-related positions in 2012 is because job seekers lacked the necessary cloud training and certification, according to IDC’s “Climate Change: Cloud’s Impact on IT Organizations and Staffing.

And, when looking toward the future, other recent surveys indicate there’s no going back to wired desktops and cables. Angelbeat’s annual “clean slate” survey, for instance, asked its community of 200,000 IT professionals what they would do differently if they could (re)build their entire network/data center infrastructure from scratch. Seventy-one percent said they would never buy a PC, desktop phone, server, etc.

Instead, the preference is thin clients and BYOD tablets/laptops only, with a bluetooth earpiece for telephone calls and a large display monitor at each desk to reduce eye strain. In 2012, that figure was 44 percent, according to Angelbeat. And, in terms of networks, 93 percent said wireless would be the only network—no wired backup, no cabling, no face plates, power management, etc. Last year, just 57 percent of those surveyed by Angelbeat expressed the same level in wifi confidence.

Angelbeat breaks down the results in terms of spending focus and IT talent focus for this year and next. The winners, they say, include middleware, virtualization/thin clients, cloud security, hosted application delivery, application architecture—anything but hardware and physical devices.

Cloud computing consultant David Linthicum penned an article last month in Tech Target on the topic cloud computing career paths. He notes two categories of careers emerging in the space: positions seeking IT pros with specific cloud skills and positions looking for IT admins with cloud architecture know-how.

Specific skills such as Amazon Web Services expertise or Google App Engine development, says Linthicum, are typically with companies that have already committed to specific cloud service providers. These usually fall into new groups in IT departments with a focus on tactical solutions development, and encompass the majority of cloud computing jobs on the market right now.

Companies with positions for cloud architects seek people who can define the cloud, from business requirements to the actual cloud deployment, he says. These jobs tend to be with companies that have yet to define their path and need some assistance in doing so. For instance, they may be defining the use of existing clouds, or perhaps building from the ground up.

Cloud architecture job posters, says Linthicum, are typically looking for strategic knowledge of most cloud computing technology and providers, and the ability to form those clouds to fit enterprise goals or needs. He suggests cloud architecture candidates have enterprise architecture and/or service-oriented architecture experience, with some knowledge of the proper use of cloud computing technology.

Along with the demand, he says, is the rise of cloud certification programs from technology companies including IBM, as well as independent training organizations such as Learning Tree. Two top programs singled out by Linthicum are from IBM—IBM Certified Solution Advisor, Cloud Computing Architecture and IBM Certified Solution Architect, Cloud Computing Infrastructure.

It’s clear that investing in cloud computing skills is necessary for organizations and job seekers alike, says Linthicum and other market watchers. The challenge moving forward for training and certification programs, however, is keeping up with the blockbluster adoption of cloud computing.

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