Which cloud certification is right for you?

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Cloud computing is the in thing right now in the IT world. It's no longer just a buzzword but a very tangible reality. And as cloud computing grows both in popularity and usage, it is becoming more and more apparent that IT professionals need to certify their skills in the area to become more competitive.

Enter Microsoft Private Cloud certification

The Microsoft Private Cloud Certification comes from Microsoft Learning and is touted to be a recognized standard for IT professionals the world over. It certifies your skills and capabilities in the use, management and implementation of Microsoft's private cloud computing software and technologies, particularly in Windows Server and System Center.

With this certification, you would earn the title Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Private Cloud.  This will help you get IT positions such as systems programmer, network manager or server administrator.

How to become MCSE: Private Cloud certified?

To become MCSE: Private Cloud certified, you would need to pass five different exams:

  • Exam 411: Administering Windows Server 2012

  • Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

  • Exam 246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

  • Exam 247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

However, if you already are a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Enterprise Administrator or a MCITP: Server Administrator, you only need to take exams 246 and 247 to gain your MCSE: Private Cloud certification.

As you can see, Microsoft does focus on its own products for the certification. However, the certification will also touch on the basics, the framework and background of cloud computing (in general), or at least as far as cloud architecture is concerned.

Other certification providers

If this is not what you are looking for, you can try to see other certification providers. Some of the top cloud certifications available now include:

  1. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge

    This certification is offered by the Cloud Security Alliance and is the first one in the cloud computing security certification scene.  You will need to correctly answer at least 40 of the 50 questions in the test in 60 minutes or less.

  2. IBM Certified Solution Advisor -- Cloud Computing Architecture

    Provided by IBM, the IBM Certified Solution Advisor -- Cloud Computing Architecture covers both the basics of cloud computing along with IBM's offerings: virtualization, CloudBurst, Websphere, ISDM and TSAM.  You need to answer 68 percent of 50 questions right.

  3. Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist

    The Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist is the first cloud-centric certification being offered by the search giant, and will certify your skills in everything related to Google Apps for Business. You will need to pass an exam with 98 questions, although Google has not disclosed the passing rate.

  4. Certified Force.com Developer

    Considered to be the best cloud application development certification there is, the Certified Force.com Developer is relevant only to the Force.com platform and you need to answer 68 percent of a 60-question exam right to get the certification.

  5. Certified Cloud Professional

    The Certified Cloud Professional is offered by CloudSchool.com and covers cloud computing basics, and NIST knowledge. You would need to pass both the fundamentals exam and an elective examination in order to get certified.

  6. VMware Certified Professional

    The VMware Certified Professional is currently the most popular certification when it comes to virtualization. It will cover vSphere's role in cloud computing architecture and will require you to take specific courses and pass a certification exam with 85 questions.

As you can see, all of these certifications are quite vendor-specific. It may touch on the basics of cloud computing, but not much is offered when it comes to in-depth details and skills, such as identity-based security and creating a multi-tenant architecture.

Should you wait for the CompTIA's Cloud+ certification instead?


Microsoft's Private Cloud Certification is by far the closest thing we have to a more well-rounded certification. However, you might want to wait for CompTIA's Cloud+, which is currently in development.

CompTIA's Cloud+ certification aims to validate the skills of IT professionals who are working with cloud computing.

If you have a Cloud+ certification, it means that you can:

  • understand the standard methodologies and terms in cloud computing
  • maintain, implement and provide cloud infrastructures and technologies, including server, network and virtualization technologies
  • understand the many aspects of IT security
  • use the best practices in virtualization and cloud implementations

The certification covers the following areas in cloud computing, listed here by order of importance:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Virtualization
  3. Security
  4. Resource Management
  5. Cloud Concepts and Models
  6. Systems Management
  7. Business Continuity in the Cloud

CompTIA further recommends that Cloud+ candidates have:

  • CompTIA Storage+ Powered by SNIA or CompTIA Network+
  • At least two years on the job experience in data center administration, network storage or IT networking
  • Familiarity with server virtualization technologies

CompTIA Cloud+ is vendor neutral

Unlike the MCSE: Private Cloud certification, CompTIA's Cloud+ is vendor neutral in that it does not subscribe to a particular cloud service provider's software or technologies.  It does share a lot of similarities with Microsoft's certification since Cloud+ is ideal for those who are seeking a job or are currently in the following positions:

  • system administrators
  • network administrators
  • storage administrators
  • network engineers

Also like Cloud+, it touches on more topics than the MCSE Private Cloud. And, since it is vendor neutral, this means that even if you are applying for a job in a company that does not use Windows Server or System Center, your Cloud+ credentials will still be very valuable. This makes Cloud+ more attractive than any other certification that is locked into a specific vendor.

Another reason for waiting for Cloud+ is that it is a logical next step if you already have a CompTIA Security+, Network+, Server+ or Storage+ certification under your belt.

The proposed Cloud+ exam is expected to become available in the third quarter of the year and will consist of 100 questions. You are expected to answer these in just an hour and a half.

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Michael Gabriel Sumastre

Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a skilled technical blogger and writer with more than seven years of professional experience in Web content creation, SEO and research paper writing. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, SEO, SEM and software solutions. He ghostwrites books / e-books and has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Michael is also an expert in webmastering and loves to ride his sportsbike. He maintains his portfolio and personal blog at TheFinestWriter.com