The IT industry is filled with thousands of new cloud engineers and new cloud companies. While this makes the cloud industry an exciting place to be, it is also a risky one for enterprises that cannot afford to hire green cloud engineers or inexperienced cloud partners for their mission-critical projects.
As the cloud computing industry matures, businesses are increasingly looking for well-vetted and certified engineers, in line with traditional IT hiring practices. Similarly, enterprises will only work with partners that have made a serious commitment to staff certifications.
If you are a cloud engineer, get certified. If your enterprise is moving to the cloud, make sure your employees or partners are certified in your cloud platform of choice. Certification will not prevent all mistakes, but it will guarantee that your staff has breadth of experience, troubleshooting skills, and a serious commitment to cloud best practices.
All Experience is Not Equal
A Python engineer that has launched a couple of instances for his personal website on AWS is not a cloud engineer, even if s/he has been using AWS for years. If the engineer has worked at a startup on the cloud, keep in mind that most small companies use only core services — like AWS’s EC2 and S3 — and never explore other important tools like Redshift and CloudFormation.
Both AWS and Microsoft have developed sophisticated certifications programs for their cloud platforms. Both require not just experience, but experience across all key areas of the platform, even billing details. (Trust us: It is very useful when an engineer understands what will be a $2,000 deployment versus a $20,000 deployment.) A Certified AWS Engineer should be able to work across database, networking, storage, and compute. Even more than in traditional IT, it is crucial that cloud engineers understand how different parts of the cloud work together.
Similarly, many cloud software reseller or managed service providers often claim to offer AWS, Azure, and Google cloud management, but might have a shallow understanding of each. Enterprises are on the lookout for partners that are not only experienced in the cloud, but are experienced in large, complex projects. A high volume of Professional-level certifications in specific cloud platforms ensure that the organization hires engineers with a serious commitment to that specific tool set.
Testing for DevOps
The cloud industry is moving fast, and the next frontier for most enterprises is process automation and orchestration. There is a big leap between being able to work in a cloud console and automating a deploy process or setting up containers.
This is why DevOps certification has the potential to be the defining certification for cloud engineering. AWS is the first cloud platform to offer DevOps professional certification, and by all accounts the test is a rigorous and thorough assessment of automation, monitoring, and security. When you hire an AWS Certified DevOps Professional, you know that the individual does not just know the baseline functions of AWS, but can architect and automate all tiers of a highly available system. The exam also requires that the engineer pass two earlier examinations, ensuring that they have a strong background as a Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate and AWS Certified Developer – Associate.
Associate-Level Certifications Are Valuable Too
Even associate-level certifications matter. While an AWS Solutions Architect – Associate may not be able to deploy complex systems, they have demonstrated a baseline knowledge and a serious commitment to learning more. These certifications approximate their ability to solve complex problems and take on new challenges.
Companies that are transitioning their existing systems staff to the cloud should encourage all their engineers to at least get the foundational certification. This will not only be a valuable training program, but it will also provide a common language for large engineering teams to discuss the future of the IT organization.
Some IT certifications are criticized for testing vocabulary rather than real-life implementation. Any IT professional knows the test of a good engineer is how rapidly they can identify, quarantine, and fix a problem. AWS and Microsoft have made serious efforts to ensure their exams will only be passed by those with hands-on experience, not just great test-takers. AWS certification tests include a heavy dose of situational questions and troubleshooting scenarios.
Wanted: Certification-Focused Partners
If platform-specific certifications are achieved across all levels of an organization, they also demonstrate the seriousness and professionalism of that organization’s approach to the cloud. Prospective clients often view certifications as a more accurate way to determine a team or an organization’s worth.
At Logicworks, nearly 50% of our staff is AWS certified. Of course, our senior engineers hold Professional and DevOps AWS certifications, but even our non-engineers are encouraged to take the AWS Solutions Architect exam; many of our Sales staff and even the accountant that sends our clients their AWS usage bills are AWS Certified Solutions Architects. Even our CEO is certified. This helps keep the entire organization aligned to our clients and our core business goals.
A high percentage of platform-specific certifications frequently indicates the depth of that company’s partnership with AWS or Microsoft. If your cloud partner is new to the AWS ecosystem, they will have more limited enterprise support access and no preferred access to beta programs. These programs are available to AWS partners that have achieved Premier status and shown a deep commitment to training and understanding of AWS products and services.
Certification is more than a piece of paper hanging on an engineer’s cubicle. A cloud certified engineer can solve enterprise-grade challenges and analyze real-life issues. As enterprises enter — and alter — the cloud industry, we should expect that new hiring and outsourcing practices will spark a greater industry-wide emphasis on cloud certifications.
Logicworks is an enterprise cloud software and services provider specializing in hybrid and managed AWS solutions for the healthcare, financial, legal and commerce industries. We are an AWS Premier Partner with 22+ years in enterprise IT. Contact us to learn more about our managed cloud solutions.