DevOps certification: what to look for and how to obtain it
Every company wants to work with certified specialists, so obtaining a DevOps certification can be hugely beneficial for every aspiring DevOps engineer. However, due to large numbers of DevOps tools and technologies emerging every year, it takes inordinate effort and time to master them all — and it is not needed in a majority of cases. What DevOps specification is actually needed and how to obtain it? Let’s take a closer look!
If you google for “DevOps certification”, based on your location and previous search history you are most likely to receive the results like this:
As you can see, there are both specific AWS DevOps certification offers — and general certifications on theoretical aspects of DevOps from various organizations. Is it worth pursuing them? You have to make this judgment call yourself, but having none of DevOps institute or Simplilearn certificates did not stop IT Svit from becoming one of the leading Managed Services Providers worldwide, according to the global technology consultancy Clutch from Washington, DC.
Thus said, you can watch hundreds of hours of online courses, where “experts” and “gurus” flaunt their understanding of “the role of DevOps in business transformation”, or “DevOps leadership” or “Agile Service Management”. However, none of these “disciplines” has any real-life value, as they cover the basics of DevOps culture and methodology that can (and must) be learned by reading relevant articles for a couple of hours — and implementing them in your project will never go by the letter, so you will have to adapt to the project requirements in any case, which makes these certificates useless.
To say even more, as there is none centralized authority to issue a comprehensive DevOps certificate, proving you are a “true DevOps specialist”, the only feasible approach is to select the tools you actually use in your daily operations, master them with hands-on work and obtain the certifications that can be put to a good use — not simply hang on a wall in a frame.
Finally, keep in mind that DevOps is a dynamically growing and evolving community, where old tools lose popularity and new tools appear all the time or gain new features regularly. Thus said, all the long and costly work invested in creating this eLearning content goes to waste as soon as a new version of the tool appears — or the tool becomes obsolete and is replaced with new technology.
Therefore, the training content creators and instructors cannot keep up the pace with the open-source developer community that moves the ecosystem of DevOps tools ever onward, so the best way to ensure your competitiveness and relevance is not getting DevOps certification from a course dated 2017, but keeping abreast of the latest product updates and features by following the community updates and Slack groups.
To sum it up — most of the DevOps certification courses are useless because they are either outdated or are pretty basic and do not cover the topics and tricks that will actually come in handy during your work. But there actually are useful DevOps certificates — the ones that certify your cloud management skills and expertise with various DevOps tools.
Useful DevOps certifications: cloud platforms, tools, best practices
Below we list the DevOps certifications we consider useful based on our 5+ years of delivering DevOps services and 200+ successfully accomplished DevOps projects of various scopes for businesses from different industries worldwide. Most importantly, this training is provided by cloud vendors or the main developers of the tools, so it is always relevant and up-to-date.
One of the most useful DevOps certifications is the AWS certification program. As nearly 50% of the total number of cloud customers worldwide are using Amazon Web Services, proving you know the fundamentals and advanced practices of working with AWS features and products is a good decision for your career. How to do it?
A company that wants to showcase the “AWS-certified” badge on its website, must have at least 4 DevOps engineers with AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional level in the team. Thus said, working on obtaining this certification can be instrumental to land a job in your next company. This DevOps certification proves that you can:
- Design and build resilient, dynamic, scalable and highly-available solutions on AWS
- Select the appropriate Amazon web services to meet the project requirements
- Migrate complex software ecosystems, applications and workloads to AWS
- Plan and implement scalable CI/CD workflows
- Develop and accomplish a long-term OPEX optimization strategy
AWS provides the learning content, practice environments and paid access to exam attempts.
While Google Cloud cannot boast huge numbers of customers, it provides a large number of cloud services, products, APIs and software development kits that cater to literally any need of modern business and provide powerful tools for building and running resource-intensive tasks. Receiving a Google Cloud Architect certification will prove you have a thorough understanding of Google Cloud architecture and can deliver the following services:
- Plan and construct Google cloud systems
- Manage and optimize the existing Google cloud infrastructures
- Implement compliance and security from the start
- Assessment of the processes in place
- Ensure resilience and reliability of operations
Terraform from HashiCorp is rapidly becoming the leading tool for configuration orchestration and infrastructure provisioning. Even if you have to run Puppet or Chef for some time, you will end up using Terraform in the future. Thus said, obtaining a certification as a HashiCorp Certified Terraform Associate will be beneficial for every DevOps engineer who needs to prove he/she is able to:
- Use Terraform for infrastructure configuration and provisioning
- Orchestrate high-load infrastructures at scale
- Build flexible multi-cloud systems
- Deploy dockerized applications running microservices with ease
- Integrate platform-specific or open-source monitoring tools with ease
Kubernetes is the undoubted leader among the configuration management tools, by far surpassing all the predecessors like Chef or Puppet. It is provided as a service by all cloud platforms and Kubernetes cluster configuration is still among the most popular topics on various DevOps conferences in 2020. Thus said, obtaining a Certified Kubernetes Administrator diploma will help you demonstrate the ability to:
- Install, configure, secure and validate Kubernetes cluster
- Run Kubernetes cluster throughout the whole SDLC for multiservice apps at scale
- Configure the required Kubernetes security policies and rules, scheduling, networking and maintenance
- Integrate various cloud monitoring solutions with Kubernetes
Docker containers revolutionized the way we develop, deploy and manage applications and services. If you can get a Docker Certified Associate (DCA) diploma, you will prove the skills needed to:
- Build images for app containers
- Ensure security and compliance of running containers
- Optimize the workflows for containerized app infrastructure
Certifications listed above are the absolute must for any DevOps engineer willing to work on enterprise applications and would come in handy even for aspiring DevOps talents working for startups and SMBs, as building the systems, workflows and application correctly from the very start ensures minimal effort required for their scaling and maintenance during the rapid product growth phase.
This list is by far not exhaustive, of course. As MS Azure serves nearly 30% of all cloud computing consumers worldwide (and 95% of Fortune500 list), becoming an Azure-certified DevOps engineer can boost your career immensely.
It would also be prudent to receive certificates for such DevOps tools as:
- ELK stack
- Pivotal (for RabbitMQ)
- Atlassian Jira & Confluence
- Apache Kafka
and other solutions, based on your project requirements.
Final thoughts: get the essential DevOps certification first
To wrap it up, if you want to obtain a well-paid job in an international enterprise, it would be wise to secure at least several fundamental DevOps certificates. However, if you are currently employed or want to work for a startup or a Managed Services provider like IT Svit— your attitude, hard and soft skills and previous experience weigh much more than the number of your certificates.
Thus said, getting DevOps certification will be hugely beneficial for your career, as the best-paid jobs for the industry-leading companies expect you to have at least several certificates to stand out from the competition. Cover the essentials first and select the direction where to evolve next, as the market for DevOps services is steadily rising!