When I'm coaching aspiring bloggers, I make sure that they have their own self-serving interests clearly in focus, and no one else's.
Five years, 1000+ posts and many millions of page views later, that ultimately selfish motivation has powered me through just about every distraction imaginable and helped to keep me focused.
It's an investment I continue to make in myself.
I believe that the rank and file of motivated career IT professionals now have an excellent opportunity being presented to them to make an equally selfish move -- to invest in the emerging new set of cloud skills and certifications that are now so much in demand.
Yes, your employer will benefit greatly -- but so will you.
What's Going On?
In a nutshell, more and more enterprise IT organizations are finding they need to compete for the business of their internal customers.
New mission == new roles == new skills required.
It's substantial today, getting bigger with every passing month, and shows no sign of abating anytime soon.
If you're interested in how IT organizations are changing -- and the new skills required -- I'd direct you to this recent post "Organizing For Success".
At the beginning of this year, EMC launched its first-ever certifications around the new skill sets -- the EMC Cloud Architect and EMC Data Center Architect certifications. To be clear, these are "open" certifications that are largely technology-neutral and vendor-agnostic.
To say that they have been popular would be an understatement. I am told that over 4,000 people have been through the coursework, mostly limited by supply and certainly not by demand :)
In a nutshell, two new cloud certifications.
The motivation for this course was simple: even though deep expertise is required in a few key roles, just about everyone on an IT team needs a working familiarity with the new cloud-based ITaaS models and how they work at a conceptual level.
We've seen the need for this in our own EMC IT organization, and we've clearly heard from our customer that -- yes -- they need something like this as well.
Since typically a relatively large number of IT professionals from a single organization will want to go through this at the same time, EMC Education has positioned this offering (curriculum, discussions, exams, etc.) to be delivered onsite at a customer location, or through video-based ILT (instructor-led training).
The "video ILT" approach makes the coursework far easier to consume for both individuals and organizations; good use of the online discussion forum can result in an educational experience that is often as good (or sometimes better) than traditional sit-in-a-classroom-for-a-week training approaches.
The second one builds on the previous "cloud architect" certification, and focuses on the creation and delivery of an IT service catalog (ITaaS) on top of that cloud foundation, more formally "Architect and Design IT-as-a-Service".
The driver for this course was -- as always -- strong demand both internally and from many of our customers and partners.
These two new certifications join the existing coursework to provide a very comprehensive (and, at this time, unique) advanced set of credentials in this explosively hot corner of the IT market.
One view of how the various pieces fit together can be gleaned from this slide.
The prerequisites are few; the intended audience and consumption more broad.
At the end of the course, you'll have a working knowledge of key concepts, processes and supporting terminology.
Above that, the existing EMCCA - Virtualized Infrastructure.
It's a more daunting set of coursework, and presumes multiple relevant certifications are in hand. The goal is to build on top of deeper knowledge (filling in occasional gaps) and work towards the newer architectural and design patterns found in cloud architectures. I'll say it again, every attempt has been made to make this coursework as broadly applicable and non-vendor-specific as humanly possible.
And, above that, the new EMCCAe - IT As A Service. It too can be daunting -- mostly because it has EMCCA as a prerequisite.
Taken together, I believe this represents the most comprehensive set of cloud certifications in the market today -- although there's clearly more to do down the road.
Baseline Topics -- EMCCIS Cloud Infrastructure And Services
As you can see, this new coursework marches its audience through cloud concepts and terminology, moves on to establish a baseline in classic data center technologies, surveys virtualization technologies across compute/network/storage, moves into desktop and application virtualization, dives into cloud infrastructure models and supporting processes, and finishes up with cloud security and migration.
The real "buyer" for this coursework is the IT leader who is transitioning to an ITaaS model.
There's a big need to make sure everyone is "up to speed" on what's going and what it all might mean. That's the goal of this coursework.
Whether this credential ends up being a marketable credential or not -- I couldn't say – but it certainly doesn't hurt :)
Advanced Topics -- Cloud Architect (EMCCA) Virtualized Infrastructure
You're probably already familiar with the topics: mostly architectural design considerations coupled with planning and enablement approaches across the spectrum of supporting technologies -- from storage to security.
The people who have gone through this tell me that, yes, it was worthwhile. They also really enjoy getting to know other people just like them who are also tackling some potentially challenging content ...
Just for the record, we have clear evidence that -- yes -- this is fast becoming a *marketable* certification. No guarantee about the future, but so far so good :)
Expert Topics -- Cloud Architect (EMCCAe) -- IT As A Service
When it comes to ITaaS, the broader the view, the better.
As the ITaaS practitioner is essentially an "internal consultant", it starts with methodologies around discovery and assessment.
The next segment is all about approaches to planning and design, but the scope is a bit broader: an organizational transformational plan, a governance transformational plan and an architectural transformation plan. Yes, it's about end-state, but it's really about the plan to get there.
The next layer is the technology itself: designing for access, pooling, elasticity, ease-of-consumption and measurement. This "enablement" section is quickly followed by the all-important trust and security topics.
The coursework then takes a step back and looks at services from a lifecycle perspective: conceptualization, creation, deployment, management and termination. Finally, a decent amount of time is spent on more forward-looking topics: next-gen application development, supporting APIs, mobile enablement, etc.
My guess is that this coursework (despite its infancy) will be (a) very popular, and (b) extremely marketable. There aren't a lot of people walking around the industry who can claim expertise in helping to transform an IT organization from legacy to competitive.
The Bottom Line
My impression is simple: this is some of the best, most relevant and most current stuff in the industry -- from anyone. It does a great job of blending theory with practice.
And -- the best part? You get to be part of an ongoing and thriving community of EMC Proven Professionals who are undertaking some of the most demanding challenges in the IT world today.
The IT world is changing. There's a clear opportunity at hand.
Do it for your employer?
No -- wait -- do it for yourself.