My journey to Cloud Architect ITaaS Expert has taken longer than many of my other EMC Certifications. After all, it is an Expert level EMC certification and to that point my first. I was one of the first people outside of EMC to achieve the Cloud Architect (Virtual Data Center), just a little over a year ago. It was a very vendor agnostic certification as is the Cloud Architect ITaaS offering. EMC has led the way in preparing users for interdisciplinary focus, as we build a work force with skills needed to deploy cloud technologies across a wide range of systems.
In completing Cloud Architect ITaaS, I definitely feel better prepared than our customers. There is so much to learn around everything from designing an organization that is ready to tackle the task of cloud, to understanding the security implications, compliance, governance and trade-offs. It helps cut through the marketing of what is “Cloud” to what the cloud really is and promises. We are definitely in the early days of this journey. Everyone knows in a high level way of what they want. How they will get there is a lot more fuzzy. The reality is that the perfect world does not exist today for Cloud and that all the systems and hooks do not exist to deploy Cloud in the most ideal way. It will take some time for the marketplace to deliver systems that get us to where we all know we want to be. That said there are advances made every day. Companies cannot sit on the sidelines with indecision waiting for the perfect product set to role off the assembly line. It is very much similar to the earlier days of virtualization. Companies who make the investments now will be in a much better place than the competition and they will have a competitive advantage. Cloud is more than a technology play, in fact technology is the easy part. Cloud is more of a re-tooling of the IT organization, a shift in how it does business internally with other lines of business, and changes in the way we think of peoples roles an responsibilities.
In the old day, the subject matter expert was King. We had people focus on systems, storage, networking, etc. The New World is a more interdisciplinary focus. Systems are evolving to where we don’t need as many “experts” in a single discipline. What we need is people that have knowledge across multiple disciplines. Things like storage provisioning is getting easier. There will always be a need for experts in a given area, but the holistic view of the IT organization is going to need more focused generalists than deep seated subject matter experts. And this is a good thing for everyone.
I was fortunate to be involved during the shaping of the EMC Cloud Architect ITaaS course, and was invited to Massachusetts to participate in the Beta class. I was able to get a preview of what the eventual public course would look like, and provide some input. The reality was the class was always ideal the way it was, with very little tweaking needed. I also had the advantage of going through the fully released Video ILT after the course was published. So I have spent considerable time in this journey, having a solid background in storage, virtualization and networking, and devoting a good bit of time to study for Cloud Architect ITaaS. I have been very impressed with the amount of resources and effort that EMC put into developing this course. From the top down there was focus from the EMC education team, and it was obvious a lot of work was put into this.
As far as tips for studying for this certification I would say that really the ILT or VILT are your only good options. There is so much interdisciplinary information, that really the course materials are the only good source I can think of. That said, its good information and will be challenging. The reason it will be challenging is because no one I have met really knows everything in ITaaS nor has a background in all areas. For example, I was and am weak in the governance and security aspects. I don’t do security every day. Even though I am a CISSP and have a good grounding in security and compliance issues, the perspective of these issues with regards to the Cloud is different than how we may approach things in a pre-Cloud world.
Things will be much easier on the industry as a whole, once we can move everyone past the buzz of the word Cloud and can truly have an understanding of what Cloud and ITaaS really mean. I find this land grab for all things Cloud is really putting confusion into the marketplace of where the true benefits are and what organizations should be focusing on. It makes sense that consulting companies will help lead the charge to the real benefits, but our job will be much easier once the customers are all educated. I look at how much time I have spent in understanding ITaaS, and I have had the benefit of working across many disciplines as a subject matter expert. Most customers do not have this luxury. Over the next 2-5 years we will see the real shift of organizations adopting ITaaS, with much support from the manufacturers to truly enable them to do so. EMC and its alliances with VMware, VCE, Cisco, and others are definitely leading the way with developing the promise of orchestration, automation, chargeback / showback, and all other facets the field is looking for in ITaaS.