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The Cloud Changes Everything, Even For IT Training And Certification

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Just as the cloud is reworking the look and feel of IT across the board, it is also remaking the way that IT training and certifications are obtained and used.

Starting late last year, Microsoft began offering the option of signing up for online proctored exam delivery to those interested in taking MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) or MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) exams. The option is offered in certain locations, including North America, Europe and countries in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim with advanced Internet infrastructure. The company's Virtual Academy has long offered free online training across a wide range of topics and technologies to those interested in learning more about them. Earlier this year, CompTIA followed suit by introducing an online certification option via PEOPLECERT.

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As an example of what's going on in the IT training arena, Pluralsight makes its entire course catalog of over 3,700 courses across a wide range of IT technology, certification, and development topics available for $29 a month and up ($25 and up for those who purchase an annual subscription). Spend a little more and you gain access to materials offline as well as through the Internet, along with pre- and post-course assessments, practice tests, and exercises designed to help cement learning and cultivate real-world, hands-on skills and knowledge.

Last week, one of the Tom's IT Pro editors forwarded a press release from Red Hat that extols the company's Learning Subscription, an offering that provides access to the entire Red Hat Online curriculum -- courses, practice tests, and virtual labs -- through a single subscription, which provides 24/7 access to all of the company's training content and practice environments. The approach is designed to enable professionals to learn at their own pace, and to study when their schedules permit. It also lets them search learning content and coverage to address specific tasks or topics, providing access to over 400 hours or cloud-based lab access. The cloud-based format brings learning to wherever they may be working at any given moment, rather than requiring them to re-arrange their schedules and show up in a classroom on somebody else's schedule.

All of these offerings, and countless others like them, have one important thing in common: all are cloud-based and depend on broadband Internet access to bring aspiring students and learning environments together. We're seeing the same commoditization of servers, networks, and software-based services that is remaking IT as we used to know it into something vastly more flexible, mutable and interesting doing likewise for IT training and certification.

Is this a good thing? We think so. Not only is it making learning and practice more accessible to busy IT pros, it's also bringing down costs substantially, and providing a better fit into busy and highly fragmented work, life and certification prep schedules. Let's all take advantage of this improved access, better pricing, amazing coverage, and start adding to and maintaining our technical skills and knowledge.