As major cloud players expand their footprints in UAE and across the Middle East, companies and government entities are accelerating their cloud transformation efforts. This is fueling new opportunities for IT professionals with knowledge of cloud and related technology, particularly virtualization.
Growing trust in localized data centers has prompted organizations to move mission- critical services to the cloud — IDC predicts that public cloud spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) region will increase to US$2.8 billion this year, topping off at $6.5 billion in 2024.
Mainstream adoption of virtualization, which often underpins cloud-based services, is growing in tandem with regional cloud transformation efforts.
Technically, cloud services can be offered separately from virtualization, which among other things allows multiple applications and data sets from different users to reside in separate virtual machines within the same physical server, but typically virtualization is at the core of cloud computing offerings and helps keep them cost-efficient.
“Virtualized infrastructures are proving to be an on-ramp and foundation for cloud computing, whether public or private,” according to IDC’s Software-Defined Compute report.
While the demand for cloud and virtualization in the region is growing, the uptake of these technologies is slow in comparison to global figures, in some part due to a skills gap among MENA IT professionals. The disparity between the advancement of cloud transformation projects across the UAE, and the IT talent required to support these efforts means the demand for cloud and virtualization-savvy IT professionals is on the rise.
Entry and mid-level professionals looking to take advantage of this gap in the market, or spearhead transformation initiatives within their organizations, will need to upskill to meet demands. The expansion of service offerings from global cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Oracle and IBM in the region has brought with it a wide offering of certification exams designed to prepare candidates for the realities of cloud and virtualization development, implementation and management.
Below are our top 5 picks for certifications available for IT professionals in the UAE looking to be at the forefront of the nation’s cloud transformation efforts.
Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 Administration (1Y0-204)
Virtualization experts are in higher demand than ever as organizations move critical workloads to public, private, and hybrid-cloud environments. Last year, virtual workspace giant, Citrix, announced an update to its long standing CCA-V certification, basing the new exam on Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7. The exam tests the candidate’s knowledge on competencies such as scalability, redundancy and security configurations within Citrix virtual environments and offers digital badges to certified Citrix Professionals.
How to Prepare: Citrix suggests enrolling in their Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 Advanced Administration course to prepare for the updated exam.
CCNA Cloud: Cisco Certified Network Administrator Cloud
Certified cloud administrators are also in high demand in the UAE as many organizations migrate their services and applications to the cloud. Cisco has developed a robust training and certification program that provides certifications at entry, associate, professional, expert and architect levels. Two exams are required to earn the CCNA Cloud certification – Understanding Cisco (210-451, CLDFND) and Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration. Both exams have between 55 and 65 questions and are 90 minutes long.
Price: $300 per exam ($600 total)
How to prepare: Cisco recommends two courses to prepare for the dual exams – Understanding Cisco Cloud Fundamentals (CLDFND), and Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration (CLDADM). Additionally, the company maintains a library of resources, including blogs, discussion forums, training videos and even games to test a candidate’s knowledge.
Google Cloud: Professional Data Engineer
Earlier this year, Google announced its intent to open its first Middle Eastern data center region, bringing its global footprint to a total of 26 regions worldwide. It is no mistake that Google offers a Professional Data Engineer Certification through its Cloud Certifications catalogue, as data is being collected and stored on public and private clouds at an astronomical rate. With waves of data being generated in the UAE, data engineers with skills in the cloud are in high demand. Google’s Professional Data Engineer certification tests the candidate’s ability to design, build, operationalize, secure, and monitor data processing systems, with an emphasis on data engineering on Google’s Cloud Platform.
Price: USD $200
How to prepare: Google emphasizes the importance of hands-on experience within the Google Cloud environment to prepare, in addition to their Data Engineering on Google Cloud Platform preparation course and practice exam.
AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty
Growing in tandem with the increase in demand for data engineers, organizations in the UAE are also on the lookout for certified data analysts. With the arrival of AWS in 2019 the demand for data analysts specifically proficient in AWS Cloud are particularly valuable to the many organizations moving their data storage to the AWS cloud. AWS offers a 180-minute AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty exam designed to validate the student’s knowledge of AWS data analytics services, their integration, and how the various AWS data analytics services fit in the overall data lifecycle.
Price: $300 (Practice exam: $40)
How to prepare: AWS provides a wealth of sample questions, learning paths, whitepapers, and practice exams to help professionals prepare for the final certifying exam.
Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Certified Implementation Specialist Certification
The virtualization of data, storage and compute power is often the first step on the road to cloud migration. This certification from Oracle University targets intermediate-level virtualization implementation team members and covers a range of Oracle-specific competencies. Skills tested include configuring network and storage repository, creating server pools and managing Oracle VM templates.
How to prepare: To prepare for the Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Essentials exam, Oracle University suggests their Oracle CM Server for x86 Implementation and Administration courses. Additionally, Oracle provides a Oracle VM 3.0 Boot Camp exclusively for their partner organizations.