A cloud architect is someone who is a newer concept to the world of IT. Although IT architecture has been around for decades, cloud architecture has only been a branch of IT since sometime after 2006.
IT architecture is concerned with how computer systems are designed and built. Cloud architecture is concerned with how IT systems are designed and built in the cloud.
Being a cloud architect takes more than strong technical skills, although those are important. It also takes soft skills that help an architect understand how people will use the system. A cloud architect is concerned with best practices to ensure that technology works to meet the needs of the organization.
What is the Role of a Cloud Architect?
Today’s cloud architects plan and design cloud-based environments. This process begins in the planning stages and carries through the life of the project. To be effective, architects should understand continuous integration and continuous delivery in a cloud environment. Their expertise should include cloud-based infrastructures and build-and-release strategies.
In a cloud environment, architects must also take ownership of the system or project throughout its life-cycle. They should participate in assessing the initial requirements and should be part of the plan for obsolescence that may involve replacement or migration.
On the business side, cloud architects need to identify:
- What functionality is required
- What the system is to do
- What competitive advantage it should deliver
- What the cost will be to implement
From a technology perspective, architects decide what systems are needed and what vendors to use. They are responsible for how elements from multiple suppliers are integrated and what APIs and standards are adopted. Cloud architects must maintain their existing skills and learn new technical skills as their cloud architect career grows.
What Does a Cloud Architect Earn?
Because cloud computing and cloud architects are new to the marketplace, little data exists on exactly what a cloud architect earns. The closest job category to a cloud architect is a computer network architect. Computer network architects design and plan environments outside of the cloud, typically in an organization or enterprise. Cloud architects require a similar skill set, so their compensation is probably close to the same.
In 2018, the median annual wage for computer network architects was $109,020; however, the yearly salary varied by industry. Corporations paid the highest with an average of $113,150 per year. Education, government and nonprofits had the lowest average salaries at $73,170. Most architect positions are full-time, with many architects working more than 40 hours per week.
The move to cloud computing may create a decline in the need for computer network architects, but the demand for cloud architects should increase. As more companies migrate to the cloud, cloud service providers will provide the architectural work that was once performed in-house. Smaller businesses may find it more cost-effective to contract with cloud providers as well. Overall, the job outlook for cloud architects is projected to grow.
How do I Become a Cloud Architect?
A cloud architect not only has to have a comprehensive understanding of cloud computing, but he also needs to have a thorough knowledge of such technologies as:
- Integrated development environments (IDE)
- Virtual machines and virtual storage
- Networked computers and data center computing
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery requirements
Knowledge of new technologies will always be a part of a cloud architect’s role. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two newer technical areas that will become a part of cloud architecture.
Because the position requires a mix of technical, people and leadership skills, technical staff with eight to ten years of experience are typically hired as cloud architects. It doesn’t mean that younger staff will never fill an architect position. It means that you will need to be proactive in acquiring the technical and soft skills to be successful.
What Skills Do I Need?
Cloud architects have a significant responsibility. They are designing an infrastructure to meet the business needs of an organization. The infrastructure needs to be able to scale up and to be agile enough to adapt to change. Cloud architects should understand artificial intelligence, machine learning, web-based development, and big data. They need to be versed in various cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure.
Beyond the technical skills, cloud architects need soft skills such as:
- Planning and organizing
Becoming a cloud architect means combining a depth of technical knowledge with an understanding of business strategies to design the best architecture for a company’s goals. Industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and finance are just a few of the places that will need cloud architects.
Cloud computing is projected to grow to almost $625 billion in 2021. That means jobs for individuals with the right skills to work on cloud projects will be in demand. That’s why now is a great time to get started on a career in cloud architecture. First, look at your entire skill set:
- How are your presentation skills? You will need to present your architectural plans to stakeholders.
- Are you familiar with project management tools? You are going to be managing cloud projects.
- Have you taken a leadership class? You will be leading teams as you put together a cloud infrastructure.
There are numerous ways to learn these soft skills. You can take an online course or attend a workshop or seminar. What’s important is to start acquiring the needed skills. You can’t make a change unless you start.
You can’t forget your technical skills. Are your software development skills up to date? Are your programming languages a little rusty? There’s always some technological advances that could impact cloud operations. Cybersecurity is one area that should be of concern to all cloud architects. If you have a passion to change, powered by Woz U partner programs will help you get started.