Gartner estimates that cloud IT spending will reach $1.8 trillion by 2025, up from $1.3 trillion reported in 2022. With organizations worldwide looking to take advantage of the cloud architecture, it’s imperative for aspiring cloud architects to get up to speed with the latest technology and understand what they need to successfully navigate this ever-evolving space.
Before we jump into the skillset required, let’s understand what a cloud architect is.
What Is a Cloud Architect?
A cloud architect is someone who designs, manages, and maintains a cloud environment for an organization. By design, a cloud architect sits at the intersection of technology and business. He/she is expected to possess the requisite technical skills and knowledge to understand the organization’s pain points, design a solution addressing them, and translate the solution into an implementation plan that cloud engineers can leverage to baseline their implementation.
And this makes it necessary for the cloud architect to have knowledge of the network, legacy systems, and the data center along with the cloud, of course. Only then would a cloud architect be able to design and manage a cloud application with ease, ensuring that it meets the business requirement and aligns with the strategic vision of the organization.
Skills You Need to Be a Successful Cloud Architect
1. Cloud Platform Expertise
Platform expertise corresponds to a comprehensive knowledge of platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Oracle Cloud, etc. A profound understanding of the nuances of these major cloud providers and their offerings is essential to working on a variety of projects and offering best-in-class solutions to clients.
Of course, different organizations would have their cloud platform preferences and make it imperative for cloud architects to gain in-depth expertise on these platforms. This expertise could look something like this:
- Suggesting and leveraging Azure services for legacy modernization
- Ensuring that the AWS services are utilized to the maximum as well as in a manner that is cost-effective and meets the client’s SLAs
The following are some of the best certifications to develop cloud platform expertise:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
- Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect Certification
2. Cloud Technology Expertise
From containers to serverless and multi-cloud to the hybrid cloud, cloud technologies are constantly evolving. As a cloud architect, it is critical to understand the intricacies of these platforms as well as their respective components.
For example, applications today are developed according to the microservices architecture. This architecture consists of numerous microservice components that can be hosted on containers. Containers make it easy to deploy and manage these microservices, independently scaling them according to load, as well as enabling a high level of automation. Of course, a cloud architect needs to be an expert in these technologies to be able to future-proof designs, identify and manage project risks, and ensure that the application meets the client’s SLAs.
Apart from those, a deep understanding of the hybrid or multi-cloud settings, server virtualization, MySQL and other open-source databases, Java/J2EE, disaster recovery, etc., are essential for a cloud architect to be able to design best-in-class and cost-efficient solutions.
3. Documentation & Presentation
About one-fourth of a cloud architect’s job is documentation. Documentation includes everything from technical specifications to project management and requirements analysis. A skillful architect is able to distill information into plain language and present it in a format that is easy to understand for all stakeholders.
Apart from that, a well-presented technical proposal is able to convince management that the technology is worth investing in. In the present scenario, where organizations can make use of cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform to host their applications, a cloud architect’s work is heavily associated with documenting and discussing long-term strategies, presenting competitive advantages, painting a compelling picture for the solution, and addressing the shortcomings of existing solutions.
All in all, the cloud architect must be able to relay technical concepts to a non-technical audience in a way that is logical, compelling, and provides a solution to the problem. At the same time, they need to be able to discuss the solution with the technical teams, clarifying doubts and ensuring that they understand the scope of work.
4. Network & Security
Cloud-native deployments have surged in the last few years, and this has been accompanied by a huge rise in security concerns. In addition to combating the new threat landscape, cloud architects need to understand the different protocols and vulnerabilities that are associated with them.
The understanding and application of security tools become even more important in a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment or perhaps in an industry that is highly regulated and at substantial risk – like the BFSI sector. Cloud architects in these industries need to be able to design solutions that are compliant with industry standards and manage risk by integrating security at every layer of the cloud application.
In essence, a cloud architect is an IT leader who is responsible for planning and executing rather sophisticated cloud migrations and deployments, overseeing key architectural decisions, and ensuring that the business is always at the heart of everything that happens in an organization.
He/she needs to have an understanding of the latest developments, an acumen to spot gaps in various offerings, and the tenacity to argue persuasively for his/her vision. Cloud architects are strategic thinkers who often sit across the business, technology, and security teams and help align all stakeholders toward a unified vision.
Cloud architect is a role that entails a lot of responsibility and is a requirement at all organizations that are looking to benefit from the cloud. Because of their broad and deep expertise in cloud architecture, they are able to understand the organizational vision of migration or legacy modernization, accommodate operational principles (like DevOps), and embed security into cloud application design.