Kaboom….

When I started at Microsoft back in the mid 1990’s , I went through a boot camp of sorts to obtain my Windows NT 4.0 MCSE Certification. I was new to Microsoft computing and had a lot to learn about the Microsoft products and technologies. The classes I attended and the certifications I obtained were key to me being able to do my job at Microsoft at the time – phone based technical support. Without the training and the certification I received, I don’t know if I would have been able to do my job properly and thus still be at Microsoft some 14 years later.

I wasn’t the only one that got certified back then though. A LOT of people got certified about the same time.

Two of the driving factors for people to get certified in the mid-90’s were: 1) The large number of people purchasing PC’s for both business and personal use and 2) The Internet. Both of these drove a major change in how people used computing technology and this resulted in a very high demand for knowledgeable IT folks to be able to support these technologies. Certification became a way for people to separate themselves from the pack and prove they knew what they were talking about. Particularly when it came to pursuing employment with the large number of new tech companies that arose from the PC/Internet boom.

Of course the Internet bubble eventually popped, many people who became certified in the technologies of the time moved on to non-Microsoft technologies or even to jobs outside of the tech industry. As a result, many of those people let their Microsoft certifications lapse. Also, when you look at the time period between when the Internet bubble popped and a couple of years ago, there really hasn’t been anything new, fresh and exciting for people to get excited about. Sure, there is the whole “consumerization of IT” thing where technologies developed for personal use have crept into the business place and sure, IT Professionals have had to adapt to this. I don’t want to downplay the importance of doing this, but I would be hard pressed to say that the “consumerization of IT” matches the scale and need for people to ramp up on new technologies that the PC/Internet boom of the 90’s thrust upon us.

Clouds in the air….

There is something coming though that could easily be as big and possible be bigger than the PC/Internet explosion of the 90’s – Cloud Computing. Unless you have literally lived under a rock for the past 3-4 years, you certainly have at least heard the term “cloud computing”. understanding exactly what it is though is a whole different matter. It seems that every technology company has a slightly different definition of cloud computing. Add to that the sub-groups of cloud computing (Private, Public, Hybrid, etc) that we are hearing about now, and it is easy to get a little bit overwhelmed and even confused as to exactly what cloud computing is and what it might mean to you.

Cloud Computing is giving us brand new ways to work with technologies to enable us to do some exciting things. One of the promises of the Internet was the massive scale at which we could provide information and services. Cloud computing is now giving us the opportunity to actually meet those expectations on a truly global scale. As a result, the landscape for Developers and IT Pros is changing. New products are being developed to take advantage of this scale and new technologies introduced to enable us to manage it. It is quite possible that we may see another Internet like explosion of technologies and the tech industry will need people that know what they are doing. The industry will want people that are certified in the leading technologies to ensure they have the right people on the job.

Training and Certification…..

Microsoft is getting in front of this now! If you go to the Microsoft Training and Certification site, you will find that we are actually lumping product and technology certifications together to create a foundation for people who want to get certified in Microsoft “cloud computing” technologies. This is a great resource for figuring out what products and technologies we have that are a part of our cloud computing solutions. But that isn’t even the best part! We also have something called the Microsoft Virtual Academy that offers FREE, self-paced training that anyone can utilize to start learning about what will be needed to get certified. There is even training for people that are using non-Microsoft products and want to know more about what Microsoft has to offer.

There are already more that a quarter of a million people that are registered on the site with over 250k self-assessments passed! in addition to the great, free training that is offered, there is a interesting social networking aspect that give you points based upon the courses you take and the assessments you pass.

Check out some of the tracks that are available -

Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professionals

Planning, Building and Managing a Private Cloud

Office 365 for the IT Pro

Introduction to Windows Azure

and much more…..

If you want to get a ahead of the curve and get certified to manage the upcoming cloudburst of technologies, Microsoft Virtual Academy is a great place to start.

Microsoft Virtual Academy – Free Self Paced Training

Cheers!