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Get cloud computing certified, but don't abandon virtualization
Cloud certification training can help an IT administrator's career, but it's only practical if it aligns with your company and you don't forgo virtualization upkeep.
Virtualization administrators should consider getting cloud computing certified as long as the cost is practical, the growth is aligned with their careers and virtualization education isn't abandoned.
IT certifications provide a way for staff to validate their knowledge with key technologies or vendors. Certifications have changed and evolved with the IT industry, including the cloud. While most IT certifications are valuable, some have become more relevant to current trends.
Novell certifications gave way to Microsoft and Cisco certifications, and those eventually gave way to VMware. With the increasing popularity of the cloud, is it time to jump ship from the virtualization certificate path?
Evaluate the relevance of cloud certifications
Certifications are a way for an employee to validate skills and knowledge. Many companies that resell IT services use employees with certifications as selling points to customers. Employees use them to argue for new roles or advancements. Vendors often stress the need for certifications to maintain one's relevance. It tends to be valuable on all sides, so the barriers are typically time and money.
The allure of getting cloud computing certified is strong, as is anything in IT that's new and shiny. Virtualization administrators need to evaluate the growth of their companies and how their careers fit alongside the certification paths available to them.
What is your company's cloud strategy? If your company is neglecting the cloud, it might not make sense to get cloud computing certified if that education will be of little relevance. If your company is evaluating or embracing cloud-based services, then a certification might be more practical.
The depth of your cloud education depends on how much your organization is planning on using the cloud. The less relevant a certification is to your company's needs, the less likely it is to pay for them.
Chart professional growth
Not all companies have embraced the cloud, but if you feel strongly about the cloud's future, an independent certification is possible, but potentially impractical. Cloud certifications are expensive if the cost is coming out of your pocket and not your employer's budget.
Betting on the future needs of skills in a rapidly changing industry is risky. If IT personnel abandon on-site virtualization certifications, this absence can create a skills gap, which is beneficial to admins who have those skills and certifications.
You should keep pace with your company's direction without losing existing virtualization and other certifications. Virtualization will remain an important role in the data center, so it's useful to keep that knowledge base up to date.
Use cases affect certification
Most companies will end up using some level of cloud to varying degrees, even if it's just for email. Getting cloud computing certified at a basic level is valuable in those contexts.
Similar to top-tier certifications for virtualization, the validity of advanced cloud certifications depends on the usage of their associated products. As important as the cloud is as a whole, that doesn't mean any particular certification will remain relevant as the format changes.
The same risk applies less to virtualization and other data center technologies because they tend to change at a slower pace. This doesn't mean they will last forever -- just remember Novell -- but data center and virtualization certifications will likely remain relevant for a long time.
Cloud certifications are here to stay because the cloud is here to stay. Even if you don't currently use it, many admins will use the cloud in the future. Getting cloud computing certified won't hurt your career. Even an associate-level certification can show your ability to bridge multiple technologies. Anything beyond that depends on your personal career plans and who's paying the bill.
Be cautious about replacing your virtualization certifications. Virtualization is a mainstay of cloud technology and still has a massive on-site presence, so it's practical to keep up to date.