CompTIA Cloud Cert Mixes Business, IT Essentials

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CompTIA's cloud computing certification, which my colleague Don Tennant wrote about last January, has finally become a reality. Rick Bauer, director of research and development for skills certification at the industry trade association, told me that one of the goals of the certification was to get everyone on the same page.

You had some folks who knew about technology and business people trying to leverage it, managed service providers in the cloud ecosystem What we assumed people across the desk knew about cloud was pretty uneven and in some cases even a black box ...

Though various vendors have created cloud certifications based on their specific hardware - HP being the latest - CompTIA set out to create a vendor-neutral certification and in the process, found ITpreneurs working on the same thing in Europe. They joined forces and spent about half the year testing the result, known as Cloud Essentials, in companies such as ING Europe, VMware and Rackspace and others. Bauer says it's probably the most thoroughly tested certification CompTIA has ever produced.


Bauer described the result this way:

This is an entry-level certification. It's not for the data center manager who's running Microsoft's Hyper-V or ESX stuff out of VMware It's not a deep dive into the technical stuff the way, say, our A+ credential is for PC techs or our soon-to-be-released Storage+ credential is. This is a foundational certification
The thing that's unique about it is that it gets out of the data center so that now all your technical people understand the business drivers, the governance drivers and the other things they need to keep in mind when they're serving as the cloud concierge for their organization. You know when the business units come in and say, "We'd like to take our CRM and put it up in some public or private cloud." They're able to ask the questions of the business unit that validate all the things that have to be addressed as that migration happens.
On the other side, the business units can evaluate more coherently after this training what we need to do The cloud isn't a panacea that will solve every problem, but rightfully applied and thoughtfully deployed, this really can help the entire organization. So there's a technical audience and there's a business audience. And then there's the many service providers. Now they can walk in and say, "We're cloud-certified; we can be your cloud broker." That could be someone outside selling services in, and it could be someone on the inside who's trying to make the business leaner and more nimble.
If someone's knocking on the door, trying to sell us something, or saying, "Trust me, I can help you move through this process," it's a process of becoming more nimble as an organization, not just as an IT organization, I think that is where this is going to be a good fit.

Though CompTIA's website recommends at least six months of experience working in IT, Bauer said there are no prerequisite certifications and it really requires only a basic knowledge of computers and servers. He said they worked with an ING salesforce in Brussels that had no experience in IT at all, but who needed to understand how cloud computing changed the game financially.


The certification covers areas including terminology, technology enablers, security, governance and change management, with special attention paid to service-level agreements. Bauer explained:

We did a deeper dive on what a cloud SLA should look like. If you're buying services, what should you be looking at and looking for in that service-level agreement? If you're selling services into the organization, what should you be providing in your SLA? How do you figure out things like data escrow and API interconnects and things like that? If, like a dating relationship, it doesn't last forever, how do you get your football jersey and high school ring back?

Going forward, CompTIA will be looking at areas that might call for a deeper technical cloud certification with virtualization appearing to be the most likely area of focus, he said.