8 certifications to prepare for hybrid and multi-cloud

As mixed cloud environments take hold and enterprises combine hosted infrastructure with private cloud and on-premises IT, networking professionals need to stay up on the latest developments in hybrid cloud and multi-cloud technologies. A good way to do that is by earning certifications.

There are plenty of certifications to choose from – which has its advantages and disadvantages. There’s no one prominent hybrid cloud or multi-cloud certification, most of them are vendor specific, and some of them overlap in terms of what they cover. That means network pros have to choose wisely when they’re considering which certifications to pursue.

“Different vendors, such as cloud providers or software providers, incorporate certification of hybrid and multi-cloud skills according to how they define and sell these types of products and services,” says Craig Lowery, vice president and analyst at research firm Gartner. “Sometimes the certification is labeled as a ‘hybrid cloud certification,’ and sometimes the hybrid skills are part of a larger skill set being validated, such as ‘cloud solution architect.’”

Vendors target the certifications to the organizations they sell to. “For example, an infrastructure provider would target engineers and technicians in an infrastructure and operations organization, whereas a software development platform provider would target architects and developers in development organizations,” Lowery says.

Because there is no industry-standard view of hybrid and multi-cloud, there are few non-vendor organizations administering certification programs that are not aligned with a specific provider ecosystem, Lowery says. “The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s Kubernetes certification program comes closest to this model, but is limited in that it focuses on one hybrid/multi-cloud approach—containers—among the many approaches that exist,” he says.

Choosing the best certification to pursue will be influenced by the technical environment and provider infrastructure that’s deployed where a certification-seeker works – or hopes to work in the future. In today’s hiring climate, with cloud skills in demand while supply is weak, there’s considerable upside for networking professionals who add to their hybrid and multi-cloud skillsets.

“Qualified individuals have more selection and compensation choices as they navigate their careers,” Lowery says. “Next to on-the-job experience, cloud certifications are the most important way to gain credibility in this job market. Networking professionals have even more opportunity with certifications for hybrid and multi-cloud skillsets, because connectivity is a core technical ingredient of these types of solutions.”

Here are eight cloud-related certifications to consider.

AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

Earning the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty certification validates expertise in designing and maintaining network architecture for the breadth of AWS services, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The certification is intended for individuals who perform complex networking tasks with five years of hands-on experience architecting and implementing network solutions. To earn the certification, individuals need to pass the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty exam, which costs $300 and takes about 170 minutes to complete. The exam, delivered at a testing center or online, features a combination of two question formats: multiple choice and multiple response.

Before taking the exam, individuals should have professional experience using AWS technology and working knowledge of AWS security best practices, AWS storage options and their underlying consistency models, and AWS networking nuances and how they relate to the integration of AWS services, according to the vendor.

Also required are knowledge of advanced networking architectures and interconnectivity options; familiarity with the development of automation scripts and tools, including the design, implementation, and optimization of routing architectures and multi-region solutions for a global enterprise; and knowledge of Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) and sub-netting (IPv4 and IPv6).

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty program validates expertise in securing data and workloads in the AWS cloud environment. It’s intended for individuals who perform a security role and have at least two years of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads, the company says.

Before taking the exam, AWS recommends that individuals have five years of IT security experience in designing and implementing security solutions and at least two years of hands-on experience in securing AWS workloads. They should also have working knowledge of AWS security services and features and an understanding of security operations and risks.

Also recommended is knowledge of the AWS shared responsibility model and its application; security controls for workloads on AWS; logging and monitoring strategies; cloud security threat models; patch management and security automation; ways to enhance AWS security services with third-party tools and services; and disaster recovery controls.

Candidates also need to understand specialized data classifications and AWS data protection mechanisms; data-encryption methods and AWS mechanisms to implement them; and secure internet protocols and AWS mechanisms to implement them.

The exam, which costs $300 and takes 170 minutes to complete either in a testing center or online, features a combination of multiple choice and multiple response formats.

CompTIA Cloud+

CompTIA Cloud+ is a global certification that validates the skills needed to deploy and automate secure cloud environments that support the high availability of business systems and data, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), an association for technology professionals.

The certification views cloud-based infrastructure services in the context of broader IT systems operations, regardless of the platform. The reality of operating multi-cloud environments poses new challenges for organizations, CompTIA says, and the certification is ideal for cloud engineers who need to gain expertise across multiple products and systems.

CompTIA Cloud+ allows multiple training options, including self-paced learning, live online training, and custom training and labs designed to advance the career development of IT professionals in server administration, CompTIA says. Participants in the program will learn skills including cloud architecture and design, cloud security, cloud deployment, operations and support and troubleshooting. The exam takes 90 minutes and costs $348.

Google Cloud Certified Fellow: Hybrid Multicloud

The Google Cloud Certified Fellow: Hybrid Multicloud Program is for “elite cloud architects” and technical leaders who are experts in designing enterprise solutions, according to Google. The program recognizes individuals with deep technical expertise who can translate business requirements into technical solutions using Anthos and Google Cloud, it says.

The ideal candidate for the certification should be able to make a public impact as an Anthos evangelist, and it should be someone who’s actively engaged in the community, Google says.

The program, which is by invitation only and is free, consists of an exam that includes a lab-based assessment to demonstrate cloud skills, followed by a panel interview to demonstrate various skills and competencies.

Candidates must be a Google Cloud customer or partner and referred by a Google contact or an active Google Cloud Certified Fellow. The recommended tenure is more than 10 years of professional experience and more than one year of experience designing enterprise solutions with Anthos.

In addition, candidates should have strong engineering and technical experience and be able to design a hybrid multi-cloud solution that is scalable, reliable, secure, flexible, and cost-effective with Anthos. They should also have strong knowledge about designing for security and compliance; Anthos-related components to troubleshoot and diagnose problems; managing clusters and deploying workloads and services; Kubernetes architecture; open platform deployment; and other areas.

Google Professional Cloud Network Engineer

A professional cloud network engineer implements and manages network architectures in Google Cloud. This individual might work on networking or cloud teams with architects who design cloud infrastructure, according to Google, and leverages experience with network services, application and container networking, hybrid and multi-cloud connectivity, and security for established network architectures to ensure successful cloud implementations.

The Professional Cloud Network Engineer exam assesses an individual’s ability to design, plan, and prototype a Google Cloud network; implement Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) instances; configure network services; implement hybrid interconnectivity; and manage, monitor, and optimize network operations.

The multiple-choice exam takes about two hours to complete, and the registration fee is $200. Participants can take an online-proctored exam from a remote location or take an onsite-proctored exam at a local testing center. Google says there are no prerequisites required, but it recommends three-plus years of industry experience including more than a year designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud.

All Google Cloud certifications are valid for two years from the date of certification. Individuals can recertify by retaking the exam during the recertification eligibility time period and achieving a passing score. They can attempt recertification starting 60 days prior to the certification expiration date.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Network Engineer Associate

Microsoft has many Azure certifications, including Azure Network Engineer Associate. Candidates for the certification should have subject-matter expertise in planning, implementing, and maintaining Azure networking solutions, including hybrid networking, connectivity, routing, security, and private access to Azure services.

Responsibilities for the role include recommending, planning, and implementing Azure networking solutions, according to Microsoft. Professionals in this role manage the solutions for performance, resiliency, scale, and security, and deploy networking systems by using the Azure Portal and other methods including PowerShell, Azure Command-Line Interface (CLI), and Azure Resource Manager templates (ARM templates).

“The Azure network engineer works with solution architects, cloud administrators, security engineers, application developers, and DevOps engineers to deliver Azure solutions,” the company says. Candidates for the certification should have expert Azure administration skills in addition to extensive experience and knowledge of networking, hybrid connections, and network security.

The certification exam, which costs $165 and does not have a retirement date, measures an individual’s ability to accomplish the following technical tasks: design, implement, and manage hybrid networking; design and implement core networking infrastructure; design and implement routing; secure and monitor networks; and design and implement private access to Azure Services.

Candidates for the certification can prepare for the exam using free online resources or by paying for instructor-led training.

NetApp Certified Hybrid Cloud Architect

NetApp Certified Hybrid Cloud Architect (NCHC) is NetApp’s expert-level certification. The vendor also offers associate-, professional- and specialist-level certifications in its hybrid cloud track.

Candidates for NCHC certification should have at least 12 to 24 months of field experience designing solutions for customers and architecting NetApp data fabric solutions in hybrid cloud environments. In addition, candidates taking the NCHC exam should be able to help customers in their journey to the cloud and provide architected solutions with the cloud providers, NetApp says.

The company says certificates will be granted to individuals who pass the NetApp Certified Hybrid Cloud Architect (NS0-603) exam plus one of the following cloud provider certifications: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate, Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect and Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals.

The exam, which costs $150, includes 60 test questions and an allotted time of two hours. Extra time is possible in countries where English is not the native language and for candidates whose first language is not English.

The exam covers areas including customer requirements for hybrid cloud; the ability to describe cloud cost management considerations; knowledge of the NetApp Hybrid Cloud, NetApp Hybrid Cloud Storage portfolio, NetApp Public Cloud Services portfolio, and NetApp Cloud Controls portfolio; knowledge of the architectural components of a hybrid cloud architecture; knowledge of designing for business continuity and data protection; knowledge of hybrid cloud network topologies; knowledge of how to scale NetApp Hybrid Cloud solutions; the ability to describe security considerations for a NetApp Hybrid Cloud environment; and others.

VMware Cloud Management and Automation 2022

The VMware Cloud Management and Automation certification validates an individual’s ability to install, configure and administer a VMware vRealize environment, according to VMware. The technology is designed to automate key processes within a data center in a repeatable, scalable way that leads to efficiency and improved productivity.

Prior to taking the test for certification, the company recommends completion of its Technical Associate certification. For those with no previous VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certifications, the company recommends gaining experience with its vSphere 7.x and vRealize 8.x products, and it requires attendance at one of its training courses and passing a qualifying exam.

The 60-question test for VMware Cloud Management and Automation 2022, which costs $450, takes about 145 minutes to complete. Individuals can take the test remotely or at a local test center. VMware says it includes a year designator with the certification because cloud management and automation solutions are frequently updated, and having a year as its certification version allows the company to better maintain the exam and training content and also shows how current individuals’ skills are in relation to other certifications.

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