What Exactly Is a Cloud Architect and How Do You Become One?

One of the buzzwords surrounding the cloud that I’m sure you’ve heard is “Cloud Architect.” In this article, I will outline my understanding of what a cloud architect does and I’ll analyze the skills and certifications necessary to become one. I will also list some of the types of jobs that are available if you decide to head down this career path.

What is a Cloud Architect?

Cloud computing architecture refers to the components and subcomponents required for cloud computing. These components typically consist of a front end platform, back end platforms, a cloud-based delivery, and a network. Combined, these components make up cloud computing architecture. Cloud solutions design is based on architectural procedures and methods that have been developed over the last 20 or so years.

A Cloud Architect is responsible for converting the technical requirements of a project into the architecture and design that will guide the final product. Often, Cloud Architects are also responsible for bridging the gaps between complex business problems and solutions in the cloud. Other members of a technology team, including DevOps engineers and developers, work with the Cloud Architect to ensure that the right technology or technologies are being built.

What initial skills are required?

If you are thinking of becoming a Cloud Architect, you will ideally already have a strong background in cloud computing or a similar technical area. If you feel comfortable with most of the following concepts or at least some of them, then you are probably on the right track. Otherwise, I would recommend some initial study or work in these areas before you tackle the Cloud Architect role.

  • Good knowledge of at least one operating system: Linux, Unix, Solaris, Ubuntu, Windows. My preference is any Linux operating system (e.g., Ubuntu or Red Hat), but prior experience as an administrator or architect in any of the well-known operating systems is also helpful.
  • Good understanding of networking: TCP/IP, IP addresses, HTTP, DNS. I suggest that you have some familiarity with these concepts before pursuing a role as a cloud architect.
  • Computer programming languages: You will need at least a minimal understanding of a programming or scripting language. This is probably not a must, but it will definitely help.
  • Security: Security in the cloud is important, and consequently, a high-level understanding of key security concepts is a must for a Cloud Architect. So an initial knowledge of some basic security concepts, such as firewalls, is necessary.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. The point is that you’ll need a strong technical background if you are contemplating becoming a Cloud Architect. Cloud Roster™ provides an updated list of trending technology skills, explains what a Cloud Architect does, provides key traits and day-to-day expectations, and lists the target skill set. This list is updated monthly, so make sure to check back right before you start a certification path.

Cloud Architect: Cloud Roster Features

What’s the next step?

Assuming that you meet some of the previously mentioned prerequisites, how do you now go about becoming a certified Cloud Architect? It depends on platform that you prefer:

AWS

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate — This certification validates technical expertise in designing and deploying scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant systems on the AWS platform. This article details how to prepare for the exam and goes into greater detail about the resources available at Cloud Academy to help you succeed.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect — Microsoft Azure is an emerging market-leader, and the certification requires expertise in compute, network, storage, and security to design solutions that run on Azure. To obtain the Azure Solutions Architect certification, you need to pass two exams: AZ-300 and AZ-301. You do not need to pass any Associate-level exams before taking these ones. The AZ-300 exam focuses on Azure technologies, and the AZ-301 exam focuses on design. Cloud Academy offers two Learning Paths that cover specific technologies and designs to seamlessly deploy, configure, and manage Microsoft Azure architecture.

You can also register for an upcoming webinar on August 29 at 10 a.m. PT: Microsoft Azure AZ-300 and AZ-301 Exams: What to Expect and How to Pass.

In this session, you will learn more about what the exams cover, including:

  • Developing, designing, deploying, migrating, integrating, and configuring an Azure infrastructure
  • Determining workloads requirements
  • Running workloads securely on Azure
  • Implementing Azure authentication and securing data
  • Designing a business continuity strategy
How to Become a Microsoft Azure Cloud Architect: AZ-300 and AZ-301 Exams: What to Expect and How to Pass

Google Cloud Platform

Professional Cloud Architect — A Professional Cloud Architect enables organizations to leverage Google Cloud technologies. With a thorough understanding of cloud architecture and Google Cloud Platform, this individual can design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.

I’m a Certified Cloud Architect — now what?

Once you have passed the certification exam, this qualification opens up a lot of new job opportunities to you, some of which you have probably never even thought about. Some of the world’s most innovative companies in big data couldn’t accomplish anything without the help of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform Certified Solutions Architects.

With more than a million active customers, AWS delivers flexibility, scalability, and reliability. Some of the companies currently harnessing big data in AWS are General Electric, IBM, Splunk, and the Weather Company. You may even find yourself working for a medical company and building a solution to map patients’ genomes to predict diseases. If you love to travel, you might land yourself a job at Expedia, which uses AWS to host its “Expedia Service,” a travel suggestion service. Let’s not forget one of AWS’s biggest customers, Netflix. Netflix entrusts AWS with highly-available and fault-tolerant content delivery of its films and media. Due to the sheer volume and fluctuating usage patterns of its customer base, Netflix relies on Amazon’s infrastructure capabilities for rapid scaling, server, and storage deployment. I can only imagine that they have employed hundreds if not thousands of AWS Solutions Architects.

Microsoft Azure is the fastest growing cloud provider for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. A few companies that are using Azure include Adobe, Apple iCloud, Ebay, Travelocity, Samsung, Xerox, the NFL, and NBC. Become a certified Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect, and then search through the thousands of available Azure Cloud Architect positions.

With customers including Target, PayPal, 20th Century Fox, and Twitter, Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products. As a Professional Cloud Architect, you can check out the Google Cloud Solution Architect positions.

Cloud Architect is a key role that’s in high demand, and the possibilities are endless. And with continued exponential growth forecasted over the next few years, we think that becoming a Certified Cloud Architect is definitely a step in the right direction as both a career choice and as a chance to get on board with any new and exciting technologies that are bound to emerge in the cloud arena.

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Written by

Michael Sheehy

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.

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