What Is a Cloud Architect?

December 20, 2021
Cloud Architect

With the increasing vitality and complexity of cloud strategies, it becomes the responsibility of cloud architects to help companies eliminate risk and drive a successful, inexpensive transition to the cloud.

Cloud architects are individuals whose job is to manage the cloud computing architecture in a company, particularly as cloud technologies continue to increase in complexity. Cloud computing architecture comprises everything they concerns cloud computing, like the storage, servers, delivery, networks, and front-end platforms required for managing cloud storage. Cloud architects are IT professionals who possess the technical knowledge and skills required for navigating sophisticated cloud environments, developing and executing cloud strategies, leading teams, and ensuring cloud systems are updated and running smoothly.

Roles of a Cloud architect

Many organizations hire a cloud architect so as to manage the complexities of cloud adoption. These IT experts are tasked with the role of navigating the whole cloud adoption of the organization, thereby preventing risk and guaranteeing a smooth cloud transition.

Gartner identifies the 3 major, high-level responsibilities as follows:

  • Driving cultural change for cloud adoption
  • Development and coordination of the cloud architecture
  • Creating a cloud strategy and supervising the process of adaptation

In order to successfully achieve these high-level responsibilities, the following are the day-to-day duties:

  • Identifying talent with the required skills
  • Assessing hardware, software and applications
  • Assembling a “cloud broker team”
  • Establishing best cloud practices across the organization
  • Choosing cloud providers and screening third-party services
  • Supervising governance and alleviating risk
  • Collaborating with IT security to develop incident-response procedures and monitor privacy
  • Cost estimations and budget management
  • Operating at scale

Jobs in Cloud Architecture

A 2021 report from RightScale revealed that the Corona Virus pandemic increased cloud spending for several companies. Of the 750 IT cloud experts who were surveyed, 61% of companies said they intended to spend a little higher on cloud, while 29% reported that they were going to spend much higher than their original budget before the wave of the pandemic. As a result of this increased spending, they have been able to access greater opportunities, as organizations seek to hire qualified experts who can assist in managing their cloud adoption strategies. On the whole, cloud-related jobs in 2021 have risen by 42% from 2018.

Jobs under them are usually straightforward and published under the cloud architect umbrella. You may however come across jobs published as titles that include specific organizational departments, software or technologies. A number of its specifications are tailored to Azure or AWS, with some others likely targeting specific knowledge areas like block-chain or infrastructure. They may take up jobs under the following titles:

  • AWS Solutions Architect
  • Azure Cloud Architect
  • Blockchain Cloud Architect
  • Cloud Architect – Openstack
  • Cloud Network Architect
  • Cloud Platform Architect
  • Cloud Solution Architect – Infrastructure
  • Cyber Solutions Architect
  • Digital Platform and Solutions Architect
  • Junior Cloud Solutions Architect
  • Principal Cloud Architect
  • Prisma Cloud Solutions architect
  • RSA AWS Cloud Architect
  • Salesforce Technical Architect
  • Senior Cloud Architect

How much do cloud architects earn?

Data from PayScale shows that they earn an average salary of $128,418 per annum, with a reported salary range between $82,309 to $185,208 per year depending on factors such as skills, experience, and location.

Cloud architect skills

It is the responsibility of cloud architects to communicate with vendors to negotiate third-party contracts for software, hardware, and other cloud technologies. The field is constantly evolving field, and the job requires an individual who can keep up with the latest technologies and trends.

In his 2016 report, “Analyzing the Role and Skills of the Cloud Architect,” Gartner analyst Kyle Hilgendorf says, “They should have a variety of technical and nontechnical skills, but above all, the cloud architect must be a great collaborator in order to empower and connect with a variety of other architecture roles in your organization.”

Although effective communication skills and exhibiting agility are required for the job, there are a plethora of other soft and technical skills that are crucial for a them. Gartner identifies them as follows:

  • Application architecture
  • Automation and orchestration
  • Governance
  • I&O (input and output)
  • Integration architecture
  • ITSM/ITOM
  • Outsourcing and external hosting
  • Security
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Company and vertical experience
  • Delegation
  • Finance and legal experience
  • Procurement and vendor management
  • Program leadership
  • Thought leadership and change agency

(Also Read: Cloud Data Management: Executing an Effective Strategy)

Cloud Architect Certifications

For young professionals who are just beginning their career and have the dream of becoming a cloud architect, it’s advisable to enroll for a master’s program that specializes in the field. There are several professional development and certification programs to choose from as well. Do you already have an IT background or the required skillset? Then you should look into any of these professional certifications to augment your CV:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Amazon Web Services ranks as the number one cloud service in the industry. With this credential, you receive certification of your ability to manage AWS infrastructure and applications. If you have a minimum of 1 year of hands-on experience with AWS, then you can take the associate level exam. Additionally, they’ll test your knowledge of AWS management and deployment services, among other AWS services.
  • Google Professional : Google’s cloud architect certification assesses an individual’s ability to plan, design, provision, and manage cloud solution infrastructure and architecture. It also encompasses compliance and security, optimization, and analysis of cloud architecture. The test makes use of case studies to evaluate your knowledge in real-world scenarios and evaluates your knowledge of software development methodologies and how they apply to multi-tiered distributed applications across different hybrid settings.
  • IBM Certified Solution Architect: Cloud solution Architecture V4: This certification from IBM tests an individual’s ability to plan, design, and architect a cloud solution. The test focuses on the candidate’s knowledge of cloud service management offerings, IBM cloud reference architecture, software for IBM Cloud, designing a VPC solution, IBM Cloud services, and cloud security, networks, systems, virtualization technologies, and storage, among other areas.
  • Arcitura Certified : The Arcitura cloud architect certification allows a candidate to demonstrate their knowledge and skills of cloud architecture as well as the technology utilized to operate and manage cloud platforms. The certification features a variety of modules, the final of which comprises a set of lab exercises in which your are required to apply your knowledge to real-world problems.
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert: This expert-level certification from Microsoft tests a candidate’s skills in designing solutions that run on Azure. This certification is ideal for people who have advanced knowledge and experience in IT operations, including areas such as security, business continuity, identity, networking, data recovery, virtualization, data platform, governance, and budgeting.

Final Thoughts

In all, Hilgendorf comments there’s a possibility you’d even find “extremely technically savvy individual in a business unit,” who possesses the adequate background and skills needed to provide value to enterprise cloud adoption.

If a company experiences difficulty landing the adequate skills outside of the organization, there might be a person well suited to the task in another enterprise unit who can switch to become a cloud architect with a little investment in education and training.

There’s a possibility that people who have experience in IT support, development, system engineering, big data, DevOps, and database administration will possess the necessary skills that can be translated to cloud architect roles.

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