In IDC’s October 2020 report, Moving to a Connected Cloud Architecture, cloud architects are first in the list of key stakeholders of connected architecture. Per their analysis, cloud architects are “becoming prominent focal points for defining standards and policies in collaboration with business, development, and IT ops stakeholders.”
The future of “cloud movement” emphasizes the business need for a cloud architect with specific skills and knowledge. In this article, we will provide the guide to the skills and experience a cloud architect requires to get their company where it wants to go.
What Is cloud architecture and what does a cloud architect do?
The role and responsibilities of a cloud architect are gaining attention and significance in organizations of all sizes. Those who hire, manage, or function as a cloud architect benefit from a clear understanding of these three factors that define the role.
Cloud computing is the application of computer system resources not directly managed by the user, but in the cloud. These applications include data storage and computing power. Cloud computing offers faster applications, rapid resource adjustment to satisfy fluctuating demands, better manageability, reduced infrastructure costs, and reduced maintenance.
Cloud architecture (or cloud computing architecture) is the arrangement and alignment of the components and subcomponents of cloud computing. Typically, cloud architecture involves all parts of cloud computing: front-end platform, storage, servers, delivery, and networks to manage storage.
Cloud architects design and oversee implementation of a plan that translates technical requirements into a viable architecture to provide a desired result. The architect drafts a blueprint that specifies how cloud computing can achieve organizational and/or operational goals. As the designed plan often requires development of technologies, the cloud architect likely collaborates with DevOps engineers and developers.
The skilled cloud architect, then, combines technical mastery with interpersonal, leadership skills.
In keeping with technology advances, the skills a cloud architect requires increase in number and complexity. The following list itemizes that a cloud architect must be able to:
- Assess business goals and develop cloud-computing solutions to meet these goals
- Bridge the gap between business and technology
- Improve and maintain existing cloud-computing architecture
- Guide the implementation of their cloud architecture throughout the company
- Develop models and visualizations to communicate their plans with team members and stakeholders
- Stay on top of new developments and best practices in cloud technology and their chosen industry
Cloud computing is multidimensional and without fixed duration. This requires “a role that many IT organizations are now finding to be mandatory – the cloud architect.”¹
According to the same Gartner report, three responsibilities distinguish the cloud architect’s high-level importance:
- Leading cultural change for cloud adoption
- Developing and coordinating cloud architecture
- Developing a cloud strategy and coordinating the adaptation process
What specific skills and knowledge should a cloud architect have?
As the IT function becomes more integrated with other functions in most businesses, the cloud architect must be able to apply IT knowledge to various business demands and communicate those applications effectively. Bridging the gap between technological knowledge and interpersonal skills requires specific learning and experience. Depending upon the cloud architect’s degree of learning and experience, they may operate at any of three levels.
Qualified with the basic level of skills and knowledge, a cloud architect can comprehend and apply technologies, processes and systems required to build a complete cloud infrastructure.
A more advance cloud architect has more extensive knowledge of cloud infrastructure and understands the importance of gathering requirements in the design process. At this level, the cloud architect is more prepared to work with open, robust, elastic cloud services architecture and more able to perceive the benefits, challenges and considerations of cloud services design choices.
At the most advanced level, a cloud architect understands and applies these areas of knowledge:
- Business resiliency: the assurance of resiliency from data protection, data security, disaster recovery, and AIOps
- Application development: the creation and implementation of customized cloud services
- Operating model: comprehension of an operating model that incorporates product development, policy and governance, and quality, all based upon a reliable cloud services platform
- Lifecycle and management: sequential steps from plan through feedback to develop and manage the cloud services lifecycle
- Workforce transformation: adaptation of workforce knowledge, skills and practices to the new roles cloud services require
Because the cloud architect is charged with understanding business issues and communicating technical processes and solutions to handle those issues, interpersonal skills are essential. A strong cloud architect will have:
- Business knowledge and communication skills
- Flexible learning skills
- Time and resource management skills
- Strong Decision-making skills
- Creative thinking skills
A quality cloud architect certification program includes activities that give participants the chance to practice these skills. Rather than providing only technical information, the preparation includes how-to awareness necessary to earn certification. Dell’s Proven Professional Cloud Architect Certification program is a powerful example.
Equipping for success with a skilled cloud architect
In their IT Industry Outlook 2021, CompTIA reports “Rather than making migration decisions for each IT system, companies will modify or choose systems to fit with a cloud strategy. Security assessments, integration requirements and provider comparisons will be par for the course rather than viewed as clunky overhead, and cloud will be the foundation for rebuilding efforts.”
To implement and manage the complexity of cloud strategy, a cloud architect must be equipped with the skills and experience for the job.
Explore the Dell Technologies Education Services programs that deliver cloud architect certifications and cloud courses including Cloud Infrastructure and Services, Cloud Infrastructure Planning and Design and Cloud Service Management.
¹ Analyzing the Role and Skills of the Cloud Architect, Kyle Hilgendorf, Gartner, 2016