With cloud computing becoming more pervasive, solution providers will require an edge to differentiate themselves from the competition.
While the cloud is still buzz worthy, cloud vendor 3Tera has revealed two new educational and certification programs to arm solution providers, ISVs and customers with the training and skills needed to prove they are cloud experts.
"If you don't do it, in two years you won't have a business," Mark Ortenzi, president of 3Tera partner CariNet, said about making the leap into the cloud. CariNet's traditional business is in dedicated servers, but just recently it built out its cloud offerings, turnkey solutions built atop 3Tera's AppLogic platform. CariNet builds, designs, deploys, manages and supports cloud solutions for its customers.
To keep cloud providers' and customers' skills up to snuff, 3Tera this week unveiled its Certified Cloud Operator and Certified Cloud Architect certifications.
The Certified Cloud Operator program is targeted at service providers, enterprises, operations professionals and system integrators who deploy and operate cloud services. It covers installing, configuring and maintaining the computing fabric used for building cloud computing services. The certification has emphasis on hardware requirements, service configuration, hardware failure troubleshooting, provisioning of customers and configuration of virtual private data centers.
The second certification, the Certified Cloud Architect program, is aimed at systems architects, IT operations professionals, application developers and systems engineers who design, integrate, provision, deploy and manage distributed applications. That certification teaches the architectural concepts of 3Tera's AppLogic cloud computing platform, step-by-step deployment procedures, operating and managing applications in the cloud, best practices for security, testing and scaling applications and how to architect for business continuity.
Barry Lynn, 3Tera's chairman and CEO, said the two new certifications are a way for systems integrators, VARs and other solution providers to hone their skills and prove to the customer base that they have the expertise when it comes to 3Tera's AppLogic platform and cloud computing. And the need for certifications will only increase as cloud computing infiltrates more organizations.
"The importance will grow as cloud computing grows, and it's going to explode," he said. "There are huge opportunities."
Lynn said solution providers stand to reap massive benefits with cloud computing, as enterprises have growing cloud budgets and shrinking hardware budgets. Add cloud computing's relatively high margins, and solution providers can add a new revenue stream. Being certified to attack the new market gives a competitive advantage and shows that solution providers understand the cloud.
Ortenzi said obtaining the new cloud certifications shows that "my guys are certified in cloud technologies" and highlights for customers that they will get "true love" from CariNet's support team when it comes to the cloud.
"When you sell a third-party product you have to be properly trained," he said, adding that so far CariNet has five 3Tera Certified Cloud Computing Operators and Architects spread across its data centers.
And those certifications are already paying off, Ortenzi said. Cloud computing is becoming the fastest growing and most profitable part of CariNet's business. And, despite many solution providers experiencing a lot of tire-kicking when it comes to cloud computing, CariNet is seeing the opposite.
"People are buying. Out of everything that we're doing in the last couple of months 40 percent is cloud-based," he said. "If you told me that a year ago I'd say you're crazy."
Ortenzi said he's been converting existing customers and rolling out cloud-based solutions via CariNet's automated turnkey solutions on AppLogic. Having cloud-specific certifications has been a key differentiator.
"If we don't know the products we can't support our customers," he said.
So far, only few vendors offer some form of certification specific cloud computing, 3Tera among them. IBM has offered a cloud certification since late 2008. Big Blue's program covers the resiliency of cloud-based applications and services delivered by partners and ISVs.
Other big names like Rackspace, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Microsoft Windows Azure have training kits and education available, but don't yet have cloud-specific certifications. Ortenzi, however, predicts that that will change soon as cloud computing takes a stronger hold on the market and companies move away from legacy hardware architectures.
"In the next two years you will see every company out there doing certifications," he said. "You have to get people trained on the reseller side."