INSIGHTS


What skills should you look for in a solution cloud architect?

Cloud architects bring together technologies such as AWS, Cloud Foundry and Docker.

There are many moving parts in the public cloud. For something that has long been billed as a simpler alternative to on-premises IT, it sure has accumulated a lot of competing PaaS and IaaS solutions, in addition to innovations technologies such as containers. Even within a single platform such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), there is a constantly evolving set of tools, services and third-party integrations to keep up with.

So it's no surprise that hiring for a position with a title as broad as "solutions cloud architect" requires laying out – and testing for – a very particular set of requirements, if only to weed out candidates who may have experience in different cloud ecosystems, or not enough knowledge of the solution you're targeting. But cloud-related hiring difficulties are still common:

  • A 2017 Cloud Foundry and ClearPath Strategies Survey found that 64 percent of its respondents agreed that there was a cloud developer shortage.
  • Similarly, 57 percent of them reported difficulty hiring developers with the required skills.

What's the answer to these problems, as demand for cloud expertise ramps up? Start with some of the specific skills a cloud architect might need, such as:

Pivotal Cloud Foundry and AWS

Since 2015, Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) has been capable of deploying applications natively to AWS. The AWS compatibility made PCF a perfect platform for multi-cloud environments, since it already worked with popular private cloud options such as OpenStack and VMware.

Workflows such as manually setting up AWS for PCF are important skills for cloud architects to possess. These competencies will help if you are following a hybrid cloud strategy – which, chances are, is either already in place at your organization or on the way. The 2017 RightScale State of the Cloud Report revealed that a comfortable majority of enterprises were working with multiple clouds.

What does a cloud architect do?What does a cloud architect do?

Containerization technologies like Docker

Containers can seem on the surface like rebranded virtual machines. In truth, they offer some key advantages over VMs, including less overhead. Experience with Docker is particularly helpful for cloud positions; Docker is the most prominent containerization offering at the moment.

It can be integrated into a wide variety of IaaS solutions, including AWS. But it's not just for abstracting and automating your cloud components: A 2017 update enabled it to containerize even legacy apps running on mainframes in data centers. Someone with extensive Docker knowledge can tap its versatile capabilities to advance your hybrid cloud strategy.

"Cloud Foundy can be integrated into a wide variety of IaaS solutions, including AWS."

Programming languages and code management tools

Cloud architects may end up working on both server- and client-side projects. For that reason, they should have broad familiarity with languages that allow them to make smart decisions about development and testing.

Candidates include Java, Python and Perl, along with key JavaScript platforms such as Node.js (the base of the popular MEAN development stack). Code management tools are also important for the change management of programs. Git is perhaps the best known technology on this front, although alternatives such as Apache Subversion and BitBucket are still widely used.

Cloud is still a relatively new sector. The skills and responsibilities associated with its key roles will keep evolving, but the ones outlined here provided a good base for today's candidates.