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What is cloud computing and Amazon Web Services?

Learn how cloud computing is changing IT systems as we know it and find out how you can develop the skills to keep up with our brand new microcredential offering AWS certification.

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The advent of cloud computing has changed the organisational sphere beyond recognition, completely restructuring how we think about IT systems. As a result, cloud computing skills are in high demand across industries and geographies. The world’s biggest cloud computing platform is Amazon Web Services (AWS).

From 13 July, FutureLearn will be offering Cloud Computing Professional with AWS, a microcredential in association with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Coventry University. Alongside gaining a certificate of completion, learners will get the opportunity to earn AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification as well as earning 15 UK postgraduate academic credits.

Read on to discover more about the course, job opportunities with AWS certification, and what Amazon Web Services are exactly.

What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform, offering a range of different services to businesses and other organisations.

Over 175 separate services are offered through AWS’s comprehensive cloud service in total. These include storage and analytics, developer tools and games technology, blockchain and machine learning, and much more.

These services allow companies to replace capital infrastructure (that is, spending on physical/permanent assets) with on-demand, scalable services as they need them.

Cloud computing as a whole has revolutionised the way business is being done.

Organisations enjoy a never-before-seen degree of flexibility and scalability, by virtue of these remote, on-demand services. They considerably lower the barrier to entry for various new technologies, which previously would have required considerable investment even to experiment with.

Companies everywhere now have reliable access to the same level of service.

Amazon is the leader in this segment, controlling 33% of the global market. Or, to look at it another way, 76% of enterprises use AWS, with a further 5% planning to and 12% experimenting with it (93% of enterprises use more than one cloud service).

AWS has been the fastest growing and most profitable arm of Amazon for some years now. We can, therefore, expect AWS’s grip over the cloud computing market to remain solid in years to come, despite competition from the likes of Apple and Microsoft.

Apple is, in fact, a customer of AWS, as are many of the other most-recognisable organisations in the world. NASA, the UK Ministry of Justice, Change.org, Netflix, Verizon to name a few.

However, it’s not just the biggest names that use AWS.

The scalable, up-to-date, and on-demand nature of cloud computing services mean that they are used by businesses of all sizes; from start-ups and unicorns to mid-size enterprises, public sector institutions, and multinational conglomerates.

These are spread across every professional sector you could imagine and AWS services are available in 245 countries and territories within 24 regions.

It is likely, then, that you will be working with cloud computing services in the future, whatever sort of organisation you work for, and wherever you’re based. And given the current market, it is most likely that AWS will be the service you use.

What will you learn on the Cloud Computing Professional with AWS microcredential? 

FutureLearn’s Cloud Computing Professional microcredential is offered in collaboration with the AWS Academy, and is accredited by Coventry University.

It aims to address the increasing need for cloud computing knowledge in the industry, and to help professionals upskill to meet the demands of this new systems paradigm.

It is aimed at those with an entry-level understanding of cloud computing and its applications.

Learners will come out with a concrete grasp of the services offered through AWS and how cloud computing can be relevant to solving business challenges. They will learn how to spot opportunities to improve systems by using AWS, and strategically and operationally prepare their organisation for cloud migration.

The microcredential course is structured into two courses, each of which is six weeks in length. The first, entitled Cloud Computing Business and Technology Fundamentals, will cover cloud computing business and technology fundamentals to help build up base knowledge around key topics. 020.

The second six-week course, Cloud Computing Professional, will build on this, looking at more advanced concepts such as cloud architecture, networking, and databases, within an AWS cloud environment. 

While there are no specific entry requirements, due to its references and relevance to real-life business scenarios, this course is most suitable for business and IT professionals with some understanding of IT infrastructure or cloud systems.

Working knowledge of cloud computing will be advantageous, if not essential for all IT and business professionals, as well as those working for charities, education, NGOs, and public sector bodies in the near future.

Those working as business development managers, product managers, and business analysts can benefit in particular.

What certification will you gain after completing the microcredential?

Learners who complete the Cloud Computing Professional microcredential will be offered the chance to gain AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification.

This will be awarded on successful completion of a separate online test administered by AWS. The cost of sitting this test is covered by the course fee.

This certification demonstrates an understanding of AWS, what it offers, and how to navigate it. It also shows that you’ll be able to easily spot opportunities for which AWS could be the solution. 12% of US IT professionals intended to pursue this qualification over 2020, according to Global Knowledge.

The AWS Certified Cloud Computing Practitioner Certification is an entry-level qualification, though it has been found to be one of the highest-paying IT certifications on the market.

It might also pave the way to further certifications. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is one of the most coveted in the industry – and is even more lucrative.

The microcredential is accredited by Coventry University, who have provided quality assurance that the course is of the standard of a UK postgraduate degree. The microcredential is worth 15 UK postgraduate academic credits. It stands as an accredited professional credential in its own right, but the academic credits earned can be put towards further education.

What are job opportunities related to this microcredential – and what do they pay?

The market for cloud computing jobs is growing rapidly.

Job offerings in the sector grew by 55% between 2015 and 2019, with worldwide spending on public cloud services predicted to double by 2023. Indeed identified AWS skills specifically as among the top-10 tech skills for 2020, with 14.2% of all tech jobs in 2019 requiring AWS skills.

LinkedIn identified cloud computing as the second-most in-demand hard skill of 2020, behind only blockchain. Those with cloud computing skills are set to be competitive in the jobs market in the near future. The coronavirus pandemic has seen demand for cloud computing services increase.

Cloud computing will not only be relevant to new positions but will also impact existing organisations, with current trends suggesting increased adoption of cloud services.

A grasp of cloud computing services will then be necessary for those at all levels who want to stay up-to-date and those interested in seeking ways to strengthen their organisation’s competitive advantage.

This microcredential is relevant to business development managers, customer success managers, and product managers, and business analysts.

To consider some of the salary levels on offer: an entry-level business analyst stands to earn from £30,000 ($37,000) rising to as high as £70,000 ($86,000) for a highly-experienced practitioner. Product managers in the UK earn an average of £54,000 ($68,000), while in the US this figure is as high as $109,000 (£86,000). Business Development Managers earn an average of $66,000 in the US (£52,000) and £40,000 in the UK ($51,000).

These are average figures, naturally rising with higher levels of skills and experience.

Focusing more on IT functions, there is a high demand for IT professionals with an understanding of AWS, with a notable skills gap emerging.

According to IT training and skills organisation Global Skills, holders of Amazon Certified Web Practitioner certification earn an average of $131,465 (£103,000), making it the eight highest-paying IT certification in the US.

Advance a little further to gain the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification and this rises even higher to $149,446 (£118,000).

Roles you might pursue related to AWS include cloud architect, SysOps administrator, or cloud software engineer.

These roles will require further technical training, with AWS skills sitting alongside other IT qualifications. Those already in possession of such technical skills can certainly benefit from adding AWS to their existing skill set.

Find out more about this microcredential

Category Career Development, IT & Computer Science, Upskilling, Learning, Business and Management, Digital Skills, Microcredentials