If all goes according to plan, sometime around midyear there will be a vendor-neutral credential available for IT professionals who want to become certified cloud computing specialists. CompTIA, the IT trade association best known for its certification programs, is in the final stages of an initiative that began some 18 months ago to create a cloud computing cert.
I was briefed on the program earlier this week by Terry Erdle, senior vice president of skills certification at CompTIA, who was candid about the challenging nature of the endeavor:
Developing the cloud community has been a high priority for us. The certifications have been a little more problematic, only in that trying to get everyone to agree on what a cloud certification actually looks like has been a little more difficult than getting them to agree on the fact that we need one. All of the big cloud players, those who provide applications-cloud services, IP in the cloud as well as applications designed for delivery through the cloud-have all expressed a consistent need to see both individual, and eventually organizational, credentials so that somebody can attest that he is capable of handling their application for them, and doing deployments for their end users.
Erdle explained that the cloud certification program will initially be tied directly to CompTIA's existing core certifications:
We convened the group about a year and a half ago, and we have certainly moved the needle on developing a glossary of definitions. It's around those definitions that we're now starting to understanding exactly what kinds of credentials would be formed. Our first thoughts are that our fundamental certifications-A+, Network+, Server+ and Security+-pretty much provide four good legs of a stool. Cloud, in a sense, modifies each one of those legs, slightly. So we're looking at bolt-on certificates to begin with-a certificate that bolts on to any one or a number of those, although exactly what that package looks like is yet to be determined. I think people have agreed that doing security in a cloud environment is very much the same as doing secure environments for yourself, with some additions and changes, with some things you need to worry about. Our Storage certification, Storage+, which will be coming out in the first half of the year, obviously relies quite significantly on the fact that a lot of storage solutions will be done through the cloud in the future. So there will be elements of cloud embedded in Storage+.
The bolt-ons, Erdle said, will be followed by a Cloud Applications Architect certification:
That will be aimed at somebody who is going to help a software company architect their application for deployment through the cloud. He'll look at bandwidth optimization, storage optimization, virtualization-a number of companies have asked us to do a separate bolt-on, just for virtualization, and that's a possibility.
Although CompTIA's website lists the completion date of the cloud certification project as April 1, Erdle was upfront about the fluidity of the timing:
We don't have the final roadmap of the deliveries yet. I think we'll definitely have our first bolt-ons in that [April 1] time frame. Whether we do the full launch or that's the beta launch, we're working through some of those budget items right now. But the content is all there. We think we've got a tremendous amount of intellectual property developed. What we want to do is make sure we come to the market with a credential the industry wants. We don't build credentials and hope they come. We build credentials based on what the industry is telling us they want us to do.