To understand what the job description of a cloud architect is, first we must understand what cloud computing is. In general terms it involves any process that delivers hosted services over the internet. Usually it includes Infrastructure–as–a–Service (IAAS), Platform-as-a-Service (PAAS) and Software-as-a-Service modules and the concept is for a company to use the resources available to them over the internet instead of spending their budget into building in-house computing infrastructures.
The principle behind the job description of the cloud architect is to oversee and manage these resources. Starting with the infrastructure which involves public, private and hybrid clouds, which are used to access files and resources and the platform which is the operating system upon which the applications used by the company will be based. The point of the exercise is to be able to access accounting, customer management and project files from anywhere through internet access.
The cloud architect is also to always remain knowledgeable of the most recent updates and developments and act as an advisor to the company in reference to the cloud management strategies to be employed to take advantage of the benefits offered by cloud computing such as being able to function without any restrictions to the workload, initiate as many workstations as necessary per time period and pay only for what they actually use.
Perhaps the greatest responsibility involved into management and supervision of cloud services is the security of the data and network resources. Using cloud management does not mean that the company’s information in reference to accounting data, projects been developed for the future or the personal information of the employees should be available to whoever wants to use it for any purpose. The cloud architect must take every step necessary to safeguard this information.
Cloud Architect Qualifications
The cloud architect must have:
- a complete understanding of the technology required for cloud computing
- experience in designing the applications that will be migrated to the cloud
- the skills to migrate the applications to the cloud
- be able to build relationships between the customers and the team members
- knowledge of a multitude of programming languages including Python, PHP, Java, Node and Ruby on Rails
- the ability and the knowledge to integrate services and tools to any and all areas to be used like networks and data processing
- the ability and the knowledge to implement security information and event management to keep the company’s assets safe
- the responsibility of making sure that the requirements of all service-level agreements are met
Additional qualifications may include knowledge of the relevant legislation as they may be required to negotiate contracts.
To prove that the above qualifications are real, the cloud architect must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering and / or mathematics if the hiring company’s requirements are for an assistant or a junior associate, and a Master’s degree if the requirements are for the head or the supervisor of the department.
Cloud Architect Certifications
Depending on the magnitude of the cloud services to be implemented and maintained, it may be necessary to present further certification either vendor specific or vendor neutral. The programs offered by IBM will provide two such certifications, one for architecture and one for infrastructure, while attending the Microsoft programs will be certified with the overall Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. Another overall certification that could be obtained is the Certified Cloud Technology Professional which is given after attending the courses provided by Google Apps.
These certifications may be enough on their own to get a cloud architect’s job on a startup company or a company that decides to enter into the world of cloud computing for the first time. There are also the cases of companies that do not hire architects that may have the Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees but have not received any of the above certifications.
Especially if there is no previous knowledge of the relevant IT technologies, the Certificates received that can prove adequacy in managing cloud computing, are rather more important than the general university degrees which do not specialize in this new form of technology implementation.
Job Opportunities for Cloud Architects
Ever since cloud computing began being used on a worldwide basis the demand for cloud architects has sky rocketed. In 2015 alone, the demand is expected to reach somewhere in the vicinity of 7 million jobs (according to Forbes) either in junior and assisting positions or in senior directors and supervisors. This number has been rising by 26% each year and is expected to keep rising at the rate for at least another five to ten years.
At this time being a new cloud architect is not a disadvantage. No company expects architects to have much in the way of on the job experience as the concept is relatively new and there are countless companies that either have not yet decided on whether the benefits of cloud computing apply to their needs, have not even discussed implementing cloud computing solutions, or do not care for cloud computing solutions.
Eventually cloud computing is expected to become the standard of doing business. Until this becomes a reality, becoming a cloud architect is considered as one of the gold mines for an employee with a lot of job openings and high salaries.
Cloud Architect Salary and Hiring Expectations
Speaking about the salaries a cloud architect can be offered to work for a company, here is a list to be used for reference:
|Area||Average for senior positions per year||Average for junior positions per year|
The average time period for filing a vacant position varies from 41 to 47 days after the job has been posted and the hiring scale is a low 46% for Connecticut to a high 88% for California.
The hiring scales also indicate vividly the rhythm that companies turn to cloud computing. In Connecticut not too many companies have implemented cloud management strategies. On the other hand, in California where all the newest advances in computer technology are immediately implemented and assimilated the hiring scale is almost 100%.
To understand how long the time frame is for the open positions to get saturated, the states like Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas and others can offer no data yet on average salaries, posting periods and hiring scales as there are very few to almost no companies at all using cloud technology.
Who hires Cloud Architects?
It is understandable that not all industries are interested in hiring cloud architects. The new specialists that apply for a job need to know which doors to knock and where to look for hiring opportunities. The following is a table of the industries that are interested in hiring cloud architects:
|Scientific, technical and professional services||31%|
|Waste management, remediation services, administration and support||6%|
|Finance and insurance||2%|
|Social assistance and health care||1%|
|Other services excluding public administration||1%|
Final Thoughts on the Cloud Architect Career Path
The cost of setting up an in-house infrastructure takes away a rather great chunk of the budget of a company. It takes a lot of money to set up the appropriate servers, the workstations, the network and its wiring, the electrical wiring, etc… And after everything is set up, at times where business is low, all this equipment does not get a return of investment as half of it is not used. It is never a certainty that business will go back up again so that everything is put to work again to make revenues for a return of investment that will eventually balance the budget spent.
This is the main reason behind the development and the implementation of cloud computing. The ability to use the resources over the internet much in the same way as people use electricity. The equipment requirements are reduced dramatically and each company gets to pay exactly as much of the available services as it uses.
However, as much as it is important to save money, it is as important to have someone manage and oversee the new concept. It is even more important that this someone provides the proper advice on how to move on to the future with this technology, keep it updated and manage to properly connect the business with the customers. This is the premise that necessitates the existence of Cloud Architects.
Many youngsters look for what business to turn to, to ensure that their livelihood is secured and that they will always have a job. Becoming a cloud architect is one of these jobs. While it will take some studying and some serious certification in order to acquire the necessary qualifications it will pay a very good salary either for a junior or a senior position, while there are many years left of not yet saturated open job positions.
What’s the Next Step Up?
Enterprise Architect: If you are looking beyond specifically the cloud, many roles will bleed into and grow into Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Architect career paths. This is especially true as more companies move into leveraging the cloud as a core component of their business systems. Other parallel terms might include Solution Architect and Senior Cloud Engineer.
What’s the Step Below?
Cloud Engineer: Specifically involved with the building of the system, might be working solo (de facto Cloud Architect) or alongside Cloud or Solutions Architects.