In today’s technology landscape, cloud computing has become a ubiquitous presence. Roughly 94 percent of organizations use the cloud in some capacity, ranging from basic storage solutions to more complex platforms for application development, analytics, and artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives.
As workforces become increasingly distributed, and companies more keen to invest in these kinds of efforts, the demand for fast, flexible and accessible cloud services is only expected to grow. This is because technologies like AI and ML require massive amounts of computing power, storage and connectivity, which are often difficult to manage with traditional on-premise solutions. The cloud provides a scalable and cost-effective solution to this problem, enabling companies to quickly and easily deploy and manage the resources they need to stay ahead of the competition.
But building and maintaining these systems is a complex task that requires specialized knowledge and skills — and the ability to adapt to an industry that’s constantly evolving.
That’s where cloud architects come in.
What Are a Cloud Architect’s Responsibilities?
Cloud architects are responsible for designing and managing the cloud-based infrastructure and applications that make up a company’s computing system. They work to ensure that these systems operate efficiently and securely while meeting the specific needs of the organization. In essence, cloud architects are the conductors of the cloud, overseeing and coordinating all the moving parts to create a harmonious and effective system.
Designing and Implementing Cloud Infrastructure
Cloud architects are responsible for designing, implementing, and managing the cloud infrastructure that meets the requirements of their organization. This includes selecting the appropriate cloud service provider, defining the cloud architecture, and setting up the necessary cloud resources.
Developing Cloud Strategies
Cloud architects need to understand the business requirements and develop cloud strategies that align with them. They need to ensure that the cloud infrastructure is scalable, reliable , and cost-effective.
Managing Cloud Security
Another important aspect of the cloud architect’s role is ensuring the security of the cloud infrastructure. This includes implementing security policies, monitoring the cloud infrastructure for security threats, and implementing security controls to mitigate risks.
Managing Cloud Operations
Cloud architects are also responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the cloud infrastructure. This includes monitoring the performance of the cloud infrastructure, optimizing the infrastructure for efficiency, and ensuring that the infrastructure is highly available, which allows the system to keep functioning, even when some components fail.
Collaborating With Stakeholders
Cloud architects work closely with stakeholders to understand their requirements and ensure that the cloud infrastructure supports their goals. They need to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page.
What Kinds of Companies Hire Cloud Architects?
Cloud architects are in high demand, and organizations in various industries are searching for them. Many technology-focused companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google require cloud architects to manage their cloud-based infrastructure. However, as cloud computing has increasingly replaced or supplemented on-premise data centers, companies outside the tech industry are now hiring cloud architects in greater and greater numbers, too.
Healthcare organizations use cloud computing to store electronic health records and conduct medical research. Financial institutions utilize the cloud for online banking and financial analysis. Retail companies use cloud computing to store customer data and conduct e-commerce transactions. Essentially, any organization that needs to store, process or analyze data online can benefit from hiring a cloud architect.
Types of Cloud Architect Positions
There are many types of cloud architect roles, which can differ depending on experience, education and company size.
At the entry-level, a cloud architect may start as a Junior Cloud Architect or Cloud Solutions Architect, working on developing and testing cloud-based solutions. As they gain experience, cloud architects may move into senior-level roles such as:
- Senior Cloud Architect
- Cloud Infrastructure Architect
- Cloud Security Architect
- Cloud Integration Architect
At the highest levels of an organization, cloud architects may take on leadership roles such as Chief Cloud Architect, Cloud Technical Director or Cloud Strategy Lead, where they are responsible for setting the overall cloud strategy and guiding the direction of the organization’s cloud-based solutions.
Cloud architects must stay up-to-date with the latest cloud technologies and best practices. They may even choose to specialize in a particular cloud platform such as AWS, Azure or Google Cloud, which can provide a competitive edge in the job market.
Career outlook and earning potential for cloud architects can vary depending on factors such as industry, company size and experience. However, as more organizations move their operations to the cloud, demand for skilled cloud architects is expected to remain high.
Skills Needed to Become a Cloud Architect
Technical skills are crucial for cloud architects to design, implement and manage complex cloud-based solutions. Some of the essential technical skills needed to be a successful cloud architect include:
- Cloud Computing Platforms: Cloud architects must have expertise in cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. They should be able to work with cloud-based services such as compute, storage, and database, and know how to select the right service to meet the business needs.
- Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC): IaC is a method of managing and provisioning infrastructure through code. Cloud architects should be familiar with tools like Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, and Azure Resource Manager to create and manage infrastructure and resources on the cloud.
- Automation: Automation is essential for managing cloud-based infrastructure at scale. Cloud architects should have experience with automation tools like Ansible, Chef or Puppet to automate provisioning, configuration and deployment.
- Networking: Cloud architects should have knowledge of cloud networking concepts such as virtual private clouds (VPCs), subnets, routing tables, load balancing, and security groups. They should be able to design and implement secure and scalable network architectures.
- Security: Cloud architects must have a strong understanding of cloud security concepts such as identity and access management (IAM), encryption, and data protection. They should be able to design and implement secure cloud architectures that meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
- Monitoring and Logging: Cloud architects should be able to set up and configure monitoring and logging tools such as CloudWatch, Azure Monitor, and Stackdriver to monitor cloud-based infrastructure and services. They should also be able to set up alerts and notifications to detect and respond to issues quickly.
But technical skills aren’t the only competencies a cloud architect needs to succeed. On the soft skills side, a cloud architect should possess strong communication skills, problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively with others. Collaboration is particularly important, as the role entails working closely with cross-functional teams, including developers, project managers and IT operations teams, to ensure successful implementation of cloud solutions. In addition, cloud architects need a strong understanding of business needs in order to design cloud-based solutions that actually meet them.
Though not necessary, certifications can be a great way for cloud architects to validate their skills and accelerate career advancement. There are several cloud computing certifications available for cloud architects, offered by various cloud service providers and independent organizations. Some of the popular cloud certifications include:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate/Professional: Offered by Amazon Web Services, these certifications validate the skills and knowledge needed to design and deploy scalable, fault-tolerant, and highly available systems on AWS.
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert: This certification validates the skills and knowledge needed to design solutions that run on Azure, including compute, storage, networking and security — services that make up the building blocks of cloud architecture.
- Google Cloud Certified – Professional Cloud Architect: Offered by Google Cloud, this certification validates the skills and knowledge needed to design, develop and manage solutions on Google Cloud Platform.
- Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA): Offered by the OpenStack Foundation, this certification validates the skills and knowledge needed to operate and manage an OpenStack cloud infrastructure.
- CompTIA Cloud+: This vendor-neutral certification validates the skills and knowledge needed to understand cloud computing concepts, architectures and security, and to design and deploy cloud-based solutions.
As the world of cloud computing continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, so too will the skills cloud architects need. Whether you’re looking to hire great tech talent or land your next role, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the expertise and experience required for the job. Explore HackerRank’s roles directory to uncover key skills for a variety of technical roles and gain access to a library of resources designed to keep you up to date on the ever-changing tech hiring landscape.