Be a Successful Cloud Architect: Go Multiplatform with Jeremy Edberg

Jeremy Edberg is an AWS Community Hero, angel investor, and advisor for various incubators and startups. He is currently one of the co-founders of CloudNative and loves cloud computing for all the right reasons. He never stops learning.

I have recently enjoyed the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy Edberg. He is widely considered to possess a mastery of distributed computing, availability, rapid scaling, and cloud computing. Jeremy holds a Cognitive Science degree from UC Berkeley and was the founding Reliability Engineer for Netflix. Before Netflix, he ran ops for reddit, an online community for sharing and discussing interesting things on the internet. He also tech-edited the highly acclaimed AWS for Dummies.
I am asking questions of some notable cloud professionals and influencers because they succeed in an extremely complex and dynamic environment where others have not. I recently spoke with Andrew Templeton of Tulep Labs about how he Got 5 AWS Certifications: continuous learning with AWS and he provides an interesting counterpoint to Jeremy Edberg’s thoughts on “the Cloud.” Jeremy has strong opinions about distributed computing, and a lot of other things too. You’ll enjoy spending a few minutes with him. I did.

To start, I asked Jeremy a few questions about his career, cloud computing, and growing as a developer. We explore what distributed computing and continuous learning mean to him.

How did you find your way to your current position?

My entire career path has been a long and winding road of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. My current position, as the co-founder of CloudNative, came about because I was at a meetup the day before my final day at Netflix, when I ran into a friend of mine, Peter Sankauskas, (now my co-founder and also an AWS Community Hero), who said he had a great idea and that we should talk.  We talked, and here I am.
Every job before that I got through someone I knew from a previous job, all the way back to my first job coming through a college coworker.
The lesson here is that the best way to find those opportunities is to get out there and talk to people and meet people. You never know where your next “stroke of luck” will come from.

Where do you see entry points for developers looking to move into the industry?

A few years ago, I would have said that for someone who wanted to get into distributed computing, they had to go to some of the biggest companies around. Today, you can do it pretty much everywhere. Chances are if you’ve ever worked for a startup, you’ve had to solve some distributed computing problems, because your company was probably using a cloud provider. If you want to become an expert on a particular cloud, then the best way to do that would be to find a big well-known user of that cloud and apply there.
Although my real advice would be not to become an expert on a particular provider, but instead try to understand the underlying distributed computing principles that apply to all clouds.

Are there are career traps people should be careful about?

I mentioned this above, but the biggest trap is becoming an expert on a single cloud or a single way of doing things. It’s better to understand the underlying cloud computing principles.
That being said, the other big career trap is believing that just because you are using a cloud provider means you are learning how to properly use one. There are a lot of wrong ways to use the cloud, like treating it as a rented data center. If you’re only using your cloud provider as a way to get hardware, then you’re better off sticking with a data center. Make sure that you are learning how to fully utilize your provider.

Could you contrast your experience working for some of the well-known companies in your bio with your work at CloudNative? 

Every company I’ve worked for has given me new and interesting experiences.  None of them have been the same.  Working at CloudNative is probably most similar to working at reddit — a small team moving quickly.  But the difference is that this time I’m a founder, so while at both companies I had to worry about all the parts of the business, this one has a more direct effect on me.

What methods do you use in learning new cloud skills and keeping current with trends? Maybe projects or books or reading comments from other developers? Community? 

The best way to learn something is by doing it.  Get your hands dirty, dive in with the goal of finishing a project that requires you to use the new tools or skill you want to learn, and then use Google and your community to find the answers you need to complete your goal.

However, not everyone has the opportunity or access to do all that.  Sometimes, they don’t have access to a community, and sometimes they just don’t know where to start.  This is where training can be very helpful.  A training course is a great way to kickstart your knowledge and, at least, get a map for the right path, if not actually get started going down the path.

A certification shows that you got the map and that you started down the path, and that you made an effort to learn a new thing, which is a great way to get into a community that will be much more welcoming knowing that you put in effort to learn a new tool or concept.

One of the important distinctions that needs to be made is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) learn “the cloud.”  That’s not really a thing.  What you want to learn is distributed computing.  Those principles will apply universally, whether it is on Amazon, Google, Azure or a private cloud.

There is one place where training and certification can be especially useful — if you need to learn a specific cloud platform or product and prove proficiency to move ahead in your job. 

To keep up with new trends, I mostly watch Amazon and Google’s feeds for new products, and then figure out how one would best use those products. I’ll also be blogging about cloud topics on our company blog at, so you could follow there for the latest in distributed computing.

Do you have any general advice for people who want to transition to working in the Cloud Industry?

The cloud industry isn’t really an industry at all, but one of many ways to get things done. Understanding the principles behind the cloud is what is most important. You need to understand distributed computing and how best to take advantage of what the different cloud providers have to offer.
Today, Jeremy’s company, CloudNative, is opening up signups for the beta of their new product Yeobot.

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