Skills Training and Certifications Guide for Cloud Hosting Provider
Update, July 24: A previous version of this article referenced an outdated Google cloud certification.
The shortage of skilled, certified applicants for IT jobs is well documented. Professionals in cybersecurity, cloud and other areas of IT are in high demand around the world, and companies, governments, educational institutions and industry groups have responded by creating more opportunities for skills training and certification.
A 2014 report by the RAND Corporation said the low number of cybersecurity professionals in the labor market could pose a risk to national security, and in May IBM cited a Frost & Sullivan estimate that the workforce will be 1.8 million cybersecurity professionals short of demand by 2022 when it announced a set of initiatives to train “new collar” workers. The growing demand for AWS and DevOps skills was noted as far back as a 2013 report by tech career site Dice.
While many professionals in the industry have IT-related degrees or diplomas, it is possible to work in the field without one. Here are some of the options available to help close the skills gap and open up career opportunities.
Web hosting control panels like cPanel and Plesk provide training and certification, but with somewhat different focusses. cPanel certifies for sales, WHM admin and command line systems administration, and has two new certifications “coming soon.” Plesk courses and exams cover a variety of Plesk tools as well as Linux, Windows, WordPress, and Git.
The Linux Foundation offers webinars and courses for individuals, as well as corporate training. The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) provides a range of certifications related to the open source OS, and tech association CompTIA provides certification in Linux as well as in IT foundations, cloud, security, servers and networking. There is also the Linux Training Academy, which has resources for beginners.
ResellerClub University, in partnership with Verisign, offers accreditation and modules for web solutions providers, web and email hosting, SSL certificates and domain names, as well as specific modules for SiteLock and CodeGuard.
There are also some short and inexpensive courses on the basics of web hosting available from education sites like Udemy. While these may not provide a professional level of expertise, or certifications leading to a higher salary, they may be useful as general introductions or for non-technical staff.
Programs like Hacker Highschool and AWS Educate are training the cybersecurity workers of the future, but those in the workforce now also have a range of good options.
The Cloud Security Alliance offers courses, webinars, and certifications, including the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge ($345).
CompTIA’s Security+ is a vendor-neutral certification for security professionals with a little bit of experience, and possibly a credential like Network+, and costs just over $300. GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) also offers the entry-level Security Essentials (GSEC) certification for competence in both security theory and practice, for $1,249 or $689 as part of a bootcamp. GSEC certification needs to be renewed every four years with continuing professional experience credits and a $399 fee.
For more advanced certification, the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants offers the in-demand Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential for around $500. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and related credentials like Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) are priced around $700 and are intended for experienced professionals. These credentials are geared toward enterprise-level security requirements like auditing and regulatory compliance. The International Info System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 offers a range of credentials, from Certified Authorization Professional (CAP) to the popular Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), which is $599, and CISSP Concentrations.
Hyperscale cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft offer skills training specific to their services. Microsoft partner organizations can acquire Silver or Gold Competency certification by meeting several requirements, including having Microsoft Certified Professionals on staff. Its Azure training program for partners was significantly expanded in late 2016. Amazon Certified Solutions Architects are in high demand, and the training and exam cost only $170. Google has three Google Cloud certifications: Google Cloud Professional – Cloud Architect, Google Cloud Professional – Data Engineers, and Google Certified Associate – G Suite Administrator, which cost between $100-$200 each.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cloud and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) for Cloud cover a wide range of topics, and cost $499 each. Cisco also provides courses focused on data centers and network security, as well as self-assessment resources.
Rackspace Cloud University (CloudU) offers vendor-neutral MOOCs and other training resources on a variety of topics, as well as certification, and the company provides other certifications, such as for OpenStack or Linux, outside of the CloudU framework. Red Hat provides certification in dozens of topics, from the general (cloud) to the particular (DevOps) to the very specific (hybrid cloud storage, Ansible automation), each for around $600. It also offers training skills assessment to help make the decisions about which course to take easier.
VMware offers almost two dozen certifications and eight “badges” covering data center virtualization, network virtualization, cloud management and automation, and VMware Horizon desktop and mobile skills.
The OpenStack Foundation began offering a Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) training in 2016 with dozens of training partners. The exam fee is $300, or $150 for current or recently graduated students.
A chart of search results from job boards by Tom’s IT Pro in November 2016 shows enormous demand for AWS-CSA Professional certification, but it is worth noting that security credentials actually show up in job postings results much more frequently.
Given the condition of the IT labor market, and the growing abundance of resources for gaining and certifying skills, there is no need for any professional in the service provider ecosystem to be stuck in a position below the level of their ambition and competence. The cost in time and money is low compared to the potential career benefit, and many companies are willing to support their employees in updating or brushing up on their qualifications.