Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing services over the internet. That includes everything from software as a service (SaaS) for software applications to infrastructure as a service for servers to platform as a service for end-to-end business solutions.
Companies of every size have gravitated towards this new paradigm thanks to lower costs and more flexibility compared to owning and operating expensive computing hardware and software. Depending on their needs, businesses can opt to use lower-cost public clouds, more secure private clouds, or hybrid solutions combining the two. Major cloud computing platforms include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud.
Learning cloud computing skills is a great way to differentiate yourself in the IT industry. But because cloud computing is a relatively new and fast-growing area of computer science, professionals looking for careers in this field need to constantly evolve and update their skills.
Core capabilities to start with include strong computer networking and operating systems, information technology (IT), and DevOps software development skills. A background in these areas are important prerequisites for learning about the fast-changing nuances of managing virtual machines in the cloud and building 'cloud-native' applications.
Acquiring cloud computing skills puts you on a fast-growing career path. After all, as more and more business computing work goes into the cloud, so do more and more jobs! Companies relying on cloud services may hire for positions including cloud architects, cloud database specialists, and multi-cloud technologists.
If you want to work directly for a major cloud computing platform, you'll often need vendor-specific certifications, which can be acquired through in-person or online training courses. For example, you need certifications to be an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, a Google Certified Professional Architect, a VMware Certified Professional (VCP), or a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
Like other fields of computer science, there are plenty of options out there for building cloud computing skills through online courses. Online courses are an appealing option for many learners, thanks to a combination of low costs and the flexibility to learn on your own schedule from anywhere in the world. For example, there are online courses that teach cloud computing concepts, cloud security, or mobile cloud computing. Coursera offers some of these cloud computing courses for free.
And whether you want to work for a company leveraging cloud computing services or go to work for one of the major cloud computing vendors, Coursera offers Professional Certificates, MasterTrack certificates, Specializations, Guided Projects, and individual courses in cloud computing from industry leaders like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and more.
Before starting to learn cloud computing, you may want to already have skills and experience in understanding programming languages, database skills, and cloud migration and deployment, as well as some history around legacy networks and network architecture. You could also have a good knowledge of the processes and offerings from top cloud computing companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. At the most fundamental, your interests would likely include an understanding of networks, software development, network administration, and computer sciences.
You may know if learning cloud computing is right for you if you are part of local networking groups or hang out in online forums discussing network issues as they pertain to the cloud. This level of interest is a good measure to learn if cloud computing is right for you. Maybe you have also already had some work experience in a cloud computing capacity. If it resonated with you, then it might be a signal to stay on that career path.
Topics that you can also study that are related to cloud computing and would benefit your learning would include big data, cloud cryptography, data recovery and backup, cloud balancing load, secure cloud architecture, and data segregation and recovery. These are the current topics that are of interest to cloud computing professionals.
Someone working as an enterprise architect may enter a career path in cloud computing by becoming a cloud security architect and then later specializing as a subject matter expert for AWS, Google, or Azure. Or, they might transition from enterprise architect to a public cloud solutions architect then to a solutions architect for AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure. Another career path might start as a database administrator who transitions to the cloud via a database used for cloud-based workloads, such as Oracle. A system administrator's career path to the cloud would likely involve moving into cloudops, which is cloud operations. Many professionals in the IT field can find a career path into cloud computing.