Is the Cloud+ Worth It?
Some companies know exactly what the cloud is and are running full-speed toward their migration plans. Other companies are less sure but are seeking information about storage and compute solutions and how to get to them. Still other companies are totally lost and still think the cloud is literally in the sky.
All those companies need IT professionals with a Cloud+. Unlike many certifications in the IT world, the Cloud+ is vendor-agnostic and performance-based. It tests your understanding of different cloud models and your skill with optimizing cloud deployments, not using one particular piece of hardware or software a certain way. Read on to see exactly why employers like the Cloud+ so much and whether it could serve you as well as it's served so many cloud administrators.
What Is the CompTIA Cloud+?
The Cloud+ from CompTIA is an IT certification that validates an administrator's skills and knowledge with securely implementing, maintaining and using cloud technologies. The primary focus of the Cloud+ is the ability to deploy and automate secure cloud environments. Regardless of what cloud vendor you and your company use, earning a Cloud+ means you know how to deploy, optimize and protect business systems and data in a high availability cloud environment.
CompTIA is a world-renowned professional organization for the IT community. CompTIA's certifications are all performance-based for job positions – not on certain technologies. This is different from many other certifications that tend to focus on using just one piece of hardware or software. Because CompTIA's exams are broadly applicable for an IT job position and not tied to a certain technology, they tend to be more difficult, but also more widely recognized than other certifications.
Another cloud-related certification from CompTIA to consider is the Cloud Essentials+. It's mostly meant for anyone who needs an understanding of the costs and benefits of implementing cloud solutions from a business perspective. It focuses on non-technical considerations around implementing cloud solutions and not technical aspects like the Cloud+ does.
What Does the CompTIA Cloud+ Exam Test?
At the time of this writing, there are two Cloud+ exams: CV0-002 and CV0-003. CV0-002 will be retired by December 2021 and CV0-003 was released June 2021 – so we'll focus on CV0-003. The Cloud+ exam, CV0-003, has five exam objectives:
Cloud Architecture & Design
Operations & Support
The CV0-003 is specially designed to verify that the candidate understands cloud architecture from both a theoretical and practical perspective. It will test your technical abilities in deploying cloud services and solutions while maintaining, securing and optimizing a cloud environment. You'll also need to demonstrate your ability to troubleshoot common issues related to cloud management.
How Much Does the CompTIA Cloud+ Exam Cost?
CompTIA Cloud+ exam, CV0-003, costs $338 to attempt. The test is taken online and you can find a link to their testing centers and international pricing on their website. The Cloud+ has a reputation of being difficult, so you won't want to attempt it without preparing ahead of time. If you plan to take classes or online courses, you should include the cost of them in your estimates. On the other hand, the Cloud+ has no prerequisites (although the Network+ and Server+ both are strongly recommended), so you won't have to worry about paying for any other exams.
What Experience Do You Need for the CompTIA Cloud+?
CompTIA recommends at least 2-3 years of experience in systems administration or networking before attempting the Cloud+. In addition to that, when CompTIA updated the certifying exam to CV0-003 from CV0-002, they also added a new recommendation: having the Network+ and Server+. The Network+ and Server+ aren't hard prerequisites, but they do suggest the level of difficulty and complexity to expect from Cloud+.
Previously, the Cloud+ focused more on managing cloud technologies. But now, the Cloud+ is focusing on hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and knowing how to marry your existing networks and systems with cloud solutions. Now that Network+ and Server+ are part of the recommended experience for Cloud+, you should assume the skills being tested are much more about integrating complex on-premises systems or existing networks with cloud solutions, not just building ideal cloud solutions from the ground up.
To be sure of truly sailing through the Cloud+ exam, you'll want about five years of experience working with networking, systems administration and cloud administration. CompTIA is known for their very broad certifications and their tests cover a lot of ground.
Who Should Take the CompTIA Cloud+?
CompTIA's Cloud+ is great for IT professionals in a wide range of disciplines. Obviously it's a good choice for those working in the cloud, but networking and systems administrators will also benefit from having it on their resume.
CompTIA Cloud+ for a Systems Administrator
Yes, the Cloud+ is probably worth it for most systems administrators. Cloud+ might not apply universally to all sysads, but if you work as a systems administrator and want to expand your responsibilities and skills to include cloud-related tasks, the Cloud+ is how you can start positioning yourself into that realm.
Maybe some of the devices on your network interface with a cloud and you need to know how to troubleshoot their connectivity or maybe you're automating some of your devices' outputs into a cloud database and want to make sure you know how to optimize the orchestration. Cloud+ tests your skills in those areas and having it means you can confidently apply for new jobs and responsibilities.
CompTIA Cloud+ for a Network Administrator
Yes, Cloud+ is definitely worth it for network administrators. Either your networks are already being extended and enhanced by cloud services or they're going to be soon – it's hard to imagine a network that will ever exist entirely independent of the cloud.
After preparing for and earning the Cloud+, you'll feel confident with different cloud models and how to manage and maintain the servers in the cloud that have to work alongside your on-prem and physical devices. If you work in network virtualization, the Cloud+ also covers continuous integration and continuous deployment techniques that you can make use of.
CompTIA Cloud+ for a Cloud Specialist
Absolutely the Cloud+ is worth it for a cloud specialist. As we mentioned above, Cloud Essentials+ is your best bet for questions about the cloud from a non-technical approach, but otherwise the Cloud+ is a career-defining certification for cloud specialists.
As a cloud specialist, you'll want to master everything about the cloud, from maintaining and optimizing cloud environments to managing OS configurations and access control. But knowing all that isn't particularly helpful if you don't have a certification that proves you know it which employers trust. With the Cloud+, you have all that job-related knowledge plus the validation employers and managers love seeing.
Is the CompTIA Cloud+ Worth It?
CompTIA's Cloud+ is definitely worth it. CompTIA is one of the leading names in the IT community, and because the certifications aren't tied to a certain piece of hardware or software, people know that earning one means you've mastered the skills and knowledge related to performing a certain job, not memorized certain configs that only work in one setting. For anyone who works in or alongside the cloud, the Cloud+ is an excellent investment of time and energy.
Using CompTIA Cloud+ to Learn Skills
Passing the certifying exam for Cloud+ is tough. It tests almost every skill and ability related to operating in the cloud. The CV0-003 is a challenging performance-related exam that tests deploying, securing and automating clouds no matter the vendor. CompTIA recommends five years of experience before attempting it because of the sheer volume of knowledge and "What-Ifs" you need to pass.
Because of all of that, courses and training are strongly encouraged. Courses designed to help you pass the Cloud+ will answer questions you might not think to ask – especially if you've been working in the cloud for several years already. Most cloud specialists (understandably) learn and practice their vendors' tricks. But the vendor-agnostic test means that even highly experienced cloud practitioners can struggle to adapt to general approaches to cloud administration.
As you watch more YouTube videos and take more courses, you'll learn just how many different approaches there are to any given problem. That means you'll be picking up new troubleshooting, deployment and security skills as you prepare for the CV0-003.
Using CompTIA Cloud+ to Validate Skills
There aren't as many professional organizations with as much clout and respect as CompTIA. If you're looking for a way to prove your skills in the cloud while marrying cloud administration with network administration, the Cloud+ is one of the most challenging and well-respected methods.
There's no other certification as reputable as the Cloud+ for telling a manager that you've mastered cloud operations regardless of vendor. Employers respect the Cloud+ because it means you understand troubleshooting, operations & support, deployment, security and architecture in the cloud – no matter whose cloud.