Arcitura Education: How To Become a Cloud Computing Expert – with Thomas Erl

by Mirek Burnejko

Thomas ErlThis is an interview with Thomas Erl, the founder of Arcitura Education, CloudSchool and SOASchool.

Today we are going to talk about CloudSchool and cloud certifications. We’re going to find an answer: if cloud certifications really important to your career.

In this interview you will find:

  • Do employers need cloud specialists?
  • Can SOA and Cloud topics be vendor-neutral?
  • What you can learn with the Cloud Certified Professional program?


Mirek Burnejko: Hi Thomas. I have followed your company for a few months and I’m astonished with your cloud certifications. Before we go deep with these topics, tell us something about you and your role in Arcitura Education, CloudSchool and SOASchool.


Thomas Erl: Thank you for following Arcitura and taking note of the school’s recent developments with the Cloud Certified Professional (CCP) program. As the CEO of Arcitura Education Inc., my role is centered on providing governance, oversight and strategic direction for the different programs we develop. Currently, we have comprehensive curricula dedicated to service-oriented architecture (SOA) and cloud computing. The former is represented by the SOASchool.com SOA Certified Professional (SOACP) program and the latter is represented by the CloudSchool.com Cloud Certified Professional (CCP) program. The SOACP program is comprised of 23 courses, 23 Prometric exams, and 9 certification tracks. The CCP program is comprised of 18 courses, 18 Prometric exams, and 7 certification tracks.

MB: You are also an accomplished author. Tell us more about that please.

TE: I’ve written eight books so far, mostly about service technology, service-oriented architecture and cloud computing. I’ve been the series editor of the “Prentice Hall Service-Oriented Computing Series from Thomas Erl” since 2004, during which I’ve been fortunate to have worked with over 30 authors and industry experts from around the world. Currently, I am co-authoring two upcoming books, “Cloud Computing: Concepts & Technology” and “Cloud Computing Design Patterns”, which formally document and structure cloud computing subject matter pertaining to technology, architecture and practice. I’m also the editor of the Service Technology Magazine.

MB: Tell me more about Cloud School, how are courses developed and what is the Cloud Education and Credential Committee about?

TE: The Cloud Certified Professional (CCP) accreditation program was launched in 2011, but was in development for about two years prior to that. We invested a great deal into research before finalizing the structure of the 18 course curriculum and the accreditation requirements of the 7 certification tracks. The courses are developed in cooperation with a range of academic and industry experts, and the Cloud Education & Credential Committee provides formal oversight of the program’s evolution. The committee is comprised of members from industry and academia. Its mandate is to support the program’s goals of establishing de facto, vendor-neutral accreditation programs focused on specialized fields within the global cloud computing industry.

MB: I love vendor-neutral certifications. Tell us something about the beginnings of your certifications.

TE: With cloud computing, it was less about design paradigms, and more about technology platforms and distinct forms of remote distributed architecture based on technology innovation. As you may have noticed, there is now a vast cloud computing marketplace, with vendors and consulting firms branding products and services with “cloud” or “cloud-based”, and often with little to back up such claims. As a vendor-neutral education and certification program, the CCP program provides clear, academic-centric coverage of cloud computing, with no influence from any one vendor. It’s a vendor-neutral program that is in alignment with the cloud computing industry as a whole.

MB: We know that cloud and SOA topics are connected with vendors like IBM and Oracle. What are you testing with your certifications? Do you touch vendor-specific solutions or maybe only high-level view on technologies?

TE: Yes, cloud and SOA topics are connected with the vendors you’ve mentioned, both of which have members on the education committees. Where appropriate, the courses make reference to vendor solutions in order to demonstrate how a given mechanism, pattern, industry technology, etc. exists and is utilized in a vendor environment. However, no part of any course in the SOACP or CCP programs addresses or requires direct knowledge of vendor-specific technology or products (with the one exception of the SOA .NET Developer Certification).

CloudSchool

MB: What are connections between Professional, Technology Professional and Architect certifications?

TE: The best way to understand these relationships is to visit the Certification Matrix. It illustrates the connections between the various designations. In a nutshell, all CCP certifications share the same two fundamental courses and exams. After completing those, IT professionals can choose which specialized certification track (such as Certified Cloud Architect or Certified Cloud Security Specialist) they would like to proceed with. The benefit here is that by completing one certification, you have already completed two exams that give you credit toward other certifications. For example, if you choose to take the Cloud Virtualization Specialist certification next, you have already completed two of the five required exams.

MB: How to prepare for your cloud certifications? What is the most effective way for an engineer who does not have a lot of experience with cloud solutions?

TE: CloudSchool.com currently offers training via instructor-led workshops and there is also a popular self-study option. For the instructor-led path, there are a large number of public workshops being held every quarter, around the world by Licensed Cloud School Training Partners. The international workshop calendar is published here. There is also a Certified Trainer development program through which we have helped establish Certified Trainers in different geographical regions. CloudSchool.com can send a Certified Trainer to a client’s onsite location to conduct private on-site training workshops that can include on-site exam proctoring as well.

The other training option, the self-study program, enables individuals to study remotely at their own pace. IT professionals can purchase self-study kits that include the materials received during instructor-led workshops, in addition to various supplements designed for self-paced, remote exam preparation and training. The self-study program is explained here.

With regards to your second question, no knowledge of cloud computing is required to begin a CCP certification.

MB: How do you convince CIOs and CEOs to tell them: “Engineers with cloud certifications from us are the best to have in your team”?

TE: I think what executive managers appreciate about the CCP program is how each certification track maps to a common project role, while all certifications are based on a common foundation of fundamental knowledge. This accomplishes two important goals. First, it allows individual IT professionals to specialize so as to address distinct requirements of IT projects and development initiatives, without requiring “everyone to know everything” about cloud computing. Secondly, it allows those same IT professionals to have a common understanding of cloud computing, regardless of their respective areas of specialization. This dramatically reduces the risks associated with having different members of a project team collaborate with different opinions or views of cloud computing concepts and technology. By sharing the same educational foundation, a common “communications framework” is established among project team members and even across project teams. This is based on IT professionals sharing the same vocabulary, definitions, and a common understanding of cloud computing concepts and models. This fosters effective verbal communication, and is especially important when project teams begin documenting project plans and specifications.

MB: What is your advice for IT professionals? What other certifications they should achieve after Certified Cloud Professional and Certified Cloud Architect?

TE: My recommendation is that IT professionals new to cloud computing begin with a vendor-neutral certification and then complement it with vendor-specific training and certification, as required by their employers or their career goals. The CCP program is designed to be fully complementary with vendor-specific cloud computing training and certification programs.

MB: I wish you good luck and I hope to talk about your certifications in the future. Thank you.

Thank you for your questions, Mirek. For more information about Arcitura, certification programs, exams or schools, visit Arcitura.com or contact: [email protected] For more information about the Cloud Education & Credential Committee and the curriculum, exam, credential and community input review processes, visit: CloudCommittee.org.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]

  • Marcel

    Interesting article. I do wonder, however, where one can find the *specifications* for the various exams –or does one only receive those upon buying a self-study kit? In other wordsis it possible to get one or more *books and articles* instead, and study from those? I would be interested in the certification, but at $300 each, the self-study kits are a bit expensive, given that I would have to pay for them myself…

    • I was thinking the same, but this model works (don’t know why :)). I did an interview with Reno Janes (great cloud expert) http://www.itcertificationmaster.com/why-cloud-experts-need-certifications/ . Reno thinks these materials and certifications are valuable to his career.

      • Chris

        When was this article written? I was interested in the security certification and talked to one of their representatives. They are anticipating earliest Q4 this year or Q1 next year. Seems to be taking quite a while to produce the material. I have plenty of people interested in taking the courses but if they are having a hard time at providing the material we’ll have to look elsewhere (I.E. CompTIA Cloud Essentials). I do Cyber Security for the DoD. Understanding and protecting the cloud will be essential to all security engineers.