Professionalizing the CLOUD
Certification Magazine|October 2020
Professionalizing the CLOUD
A conversation with the exam architect behind the hottest certification in cloud security

Pedro Pereira is a freelance writer based in Massachusetts. He has covered the technology industry for more than two decades, with a particular emphasis of late on cybersecurity and the IoT. He can be reached at

Let’s face it, the long-promised cloud revolution is here and nearly every application and system in commercial and consumer life is interconnected today. Right? We hear organizations wax poetic on their digital transformation journeys as if every hurdle has been overcome and they’re on autopilot from here on out. But is this really the case?

Yes and no. It’s true that a forecasted explosion in cloud application development and usage over the past several years has taken place. But the reality is that most organizations and the wider tech community thought we were further ahead in the adoption phase for cloud technologies than we currently are.

This was made apparent thanks to the triaged technical migrations and remote working setups forced by COVID-19, which exposed the fact that cloud readiness is far from ubiquitous. If cloud implementations are behind the curve, then there is likely a significant lack of security forethought as well. And yet, the pandemic has served as a forcing function to drive faster adoption.

In any case, at this point the wholesale move to cloud environments is a case of when, not if. As such, we need professionals who can securely build and implement cloud-first systems in order to keep pace with the speed of business. So where do these professionals come from and how do they prove themselves?

That’s a question that Dr. Casey Marks, chief product officer and vice president at (ISC)², has spent the better part of a 25-year career preparing to answer. As the world’s largest nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals, (ISC)² has been at the forefront of professionalizing cloud security for more than half a decade.

The birth of CCSP

Dr. Marks, who holds a doctorate in the field of psychometrics — the study of how to measure knowledge and abilities — leads the association’s exams team, tasked with affirming the knowledge base of these professionals. One of his key accomplishments in that role has been developing and deploying a certification exam to validate the knowledge and skills of cloud security specialists.

Introduced in 2015, the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) has been the fastest-growing certification in (ISC)²’s portfolio — which also includes the widely respected Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP — with a growth rate five times that of comparable (ISC)² professional specialist certification exams.

The CCSP topped Certification Magazine’s “Next Big Thing” list for four consecutive years. While it seems obvious today, building a certification specifically around cloud security was an educated guess that paid offfor the association.


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October 2020