Amazon Web Services offers a cloud certification program you can bank on

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Amazon Web Services has a bright future in cloud computing.The early 2000s were a brutal time for internet business. In the years preceding the turn of the century, many companies discovered they could garner greater investment capital just by adding an internet-ish sounding prefixes or suffixes (hence, the “dot-com” bubble). Unfortunately for the investors and the entrepreneurs alike, the boom wasn’t sustainable and, predictably, the bubble popped. From the rubble (ha, “bubble rubble”) only the truly solid emerged; Angie’s List, GoDaddy, Pandora and a little two-horse operation called

From its inception in 1994, Amazon was designed to grow quickly. Founded by Jeff Bezos, who is apparently one of those annoying people who CAN clever his way into a fortune, Amazon has always been the product of cold calculation, including the launch of the Amazon Web Services in 2006. Now, Amazon stands as an unprecedented success, ranking as the only top-10 U.S. retailer not to begin as brick-and-mortar (beating out Safeway for the ninth spot), and not only is it the single biggest online retailer in the world, but it outsells its closest 12 online competitors combined.

It’s huge, is what I’m trying to get at. Yeah.

But we’re not here to fangirl about Amazon (technically), we’re here to talk about certs — specifically, Amazon Web Service certs. While we’ve talked about them before, I don’t know whether we’ve properly stressed exactly how much growth is still possible here. Right now, online sales tend to make up just a small percentage (around 6 percent or so) of sales both in the United States and abroad, but as we get better at selling online, buying online, and the generations born solidly within the internet age mature, that percentage is guaranteed to increase*. A lot. So, grab your trombone and get on that band-wagon.

The next question, then, is “why Amazon Web Services?” Now, to clarify, we’re talking specifically about cloud storage and development, not … streaming videos because you ordered Prime, or whatever. When I say “Hey, you should get AWS certified!” what I’m really saying is “I think AWS is going to continue dominating the cloud computing market, and I want you to put in the hard work so I can live vicariously through you.”

Amazon is not the only cloud provider out there, and it’s not the first, and it may not even be the best. So, why is Amazon the one to beat in the cloud industry, and what would make anybody think that was going to continue?

Well, the biggest factor at this point is simply Amazon’s timing. Amazon jumped into the cloud-computing game earlier than most big companies, and was arguably the first big Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider. As an infrastructure provider, most of Amazon’s services fall in the “you build it, we’ll run it” category. Amazon provides a developer API and not much more. To make up for this, Amazon does provide a wide array of subscription options including both fixed computing amounts and scalable amounts. And while we’re talking about scalability, Amazon’s ability to push the slider is another reason Amazon has become the hardly-disputed leader in cloud computing.

It’s not all warrior women and piranhas, of course, in the world of cloud computing. (Piranhas that, like, swim in the Amazon River. Get it? Is this thing on?) Microsoft came into the cloud computing game late but is rapidly spending its way to the top, building data centers that its current customer base cannot justify. This isn’t to downplay Microsoft’s product, either; the product, dubbed “Microsoft Azure,” guarantees 99.9 percent availability OR MORE in its SLA. However, with Amazon Web Services firmly entrenched, Microsoft is going to have to fight hard to gain ground against the erstwhile bookseller and current all-retail colossus.

Cloud computing is a powerful and flexible tool, as long as you have the ability to use it correctly. And how does one learn to use it correctly? Amazon offers five different certifications, three at the associate level certification and two at the professional level. The exams cost $150 for associate level and $300 for professional level, but most also have practice exams an applicant can register for that go for $20 and $40 respectively. There are required levels of experience and expected skills, and hopefuls can view these at the link above.

The Microsoft option is the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect, for which there are three required exams and a total of $450 in exam fees. Considering Microsoft is one of the few companies big enough to step on Amazon’s toes, this might also be a viable option for an aspiring cloud developer. The dot-com bubble may have burst many IT hopes and dreams, but cloud computing is a much safer bet. These clouds won’t rain on your parade.

*In the event of the Singularity or the Zombie apocalypse, all bets are off.

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David Telford


David Telford is a short-attention-span renaissance man and university student. His current project is the card game MatchTags, which you can find on Facebook and Kickstarter.

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