What is cloud computing? And why does it matter to a data scientist?
Career · 28 Jul 2022, 11:54

In our previous article How to stand out and get hired as a data scientist by learning Cloud skills, Zindi Partnerships Lead Tamrat Ogubai explained the importance of having Cloud skills as a data scientist. Today, Tam explores what Cloud computing entails and why it is a critical skill for future African data professionals.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing enables organizations to host and access software applications, data storage and other services over the internet, instead of using traditional physical servers in an office. For many businesses, the attractiveness of cloud services lies in the fact that they don't need to buy and maintain their own physical technology products, software, storage and infrastructure.

The cloud computing world

In 2022, cloud computing is currently dominated by a handful of large, public cloud service providers (CSPs) and their products. These include AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. Google has created a handy overview of cloud services that can help you in making the right decision when choosing the right fit for your needs. We’ve also prepared a spreadsheet to help you understand and compare the different cloud computing services available.

Access or download the handbook here

There are three main types of cloud services:

  • Software as a service (SaaS): These are on-demand hosted services that provide access to business applications.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): These are web-based services and the deployment of applications in the cloud.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): These are virtualised computing resources over the internet and often offer storage.

Why you should learn cloud skills as a data practitioner

  • A great demand for cloud computing skills: There is demand for cloud practitioners especially with data exploding and companies being either hybrid or on the cloud, now is the right time to get upskilled.
  • Strong end-to-end skills: If you understand the cloud it makes you valuable in any organization as you possess best practices in data science and also understand the backend.
  • Cloud skills will help you understand the business better: You will get to understand how your model impacts the business from being tested to production and outcome this will help you further your career.
  • Remuneration: cloud computing practitioners are generally paid well.
  • Cloud skills are applicable to many industries you can therefore work in different environments.

Where to find cloud computing learning paths

There are formal training schools as well as online courses and every major cloud provider has its own set of certifications, there is a wide range of additional third-party certifications that are recognized globally, including:

  • Microsoft Azure. Microsoft's cloud certification offerings are intermingled with its overall certification programs, which span every product in the company's portfolio. The entry-level cloud certification is the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals designation. Website: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/. We have a partnership with Microsoft that will get you an exam voucher paid for by Zindi and Microsoft. To apply for a voucher, you need to submit a screenshot of you registered for the Cloud Skills Challenge and show that you are 90% complete with one of the courses. Please fill in the form here to get a voucher!
  • AWS: AWS has a growing number of training and certification programs, including programs for cloud architectures, operations and developers. The entry-level certification is the AWS-certified cloud practitioner credential. Website: https://aws.amazon.com/certification/
  • GCP: Google Cloud's certification programs include foundational, associate and professional levels. The entry-level under the foundational path is the Cloud Digital Leader certification. Website: https://cloud.google.com/certification
  • IBM: IBM has a series of training and role-based certifications for the cloud with the Associate, Professional and Advanced levels. At the entry-level is the IBM Cloud Associate Advocate certification. Website: https://www.ibm.com/training/cloud/jobroles
  • (ISC)2: For those looking specifically for a security-related cloud designation (ISC) 2 provides the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification. Website: https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CCSP
  • CompTIA: CompTIA offers a series of broad IT certification programs and has a generalist cloud designation known as CompTIA Cloud Essentials+, which provides a vendor-neutral approach. Website: https://www.comptia.org/certifications/cloud-essentials

The future of African data professionals with cloud computing skills

According to Finance International 2022, It is reported that there are 643 technology hubs on the continent, with significant numbers in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa. These numbers will keep increasing as the tech sector in Africa continues its renaissance.

With the recent adoption and popularity of cloud computing in the modern tech industry, a growing need for cloud computing services, and the limited supply of data professionals with cloud computing skills, the future is bright for aspiring data practitioners of all levels.