In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, cloud computing has become the backbone of business. This shift to cloud-based solutions offers organizations unprecedented flexibility, scalability, and efficiency, whether they’re one small shop or a worldwide enterprise.
But how often do you stop to think about how these everyday cloud environments are designed, managed, and optimized? What actually goes on behind the scenes to make all these different devices and applications play nicely together?
Enter one of the most important roles of a modern business: the cloud architect.
What is a Cloud Architect?
A cloud architect is a highly skilled IT specialist responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining cloud-based solutions and services for organizations. They are ultimately the ones responsible for creating the cloud infrastructure blueprint – an executable, realistic plan for digital workspaces that aligns with an organization's goals and objectives.
These professionals possess a deep understanding of cloud platforms, technologies, and best practices, staying at the forefront of innovation in a field that is constantly changing. Much like an urban planner designing a city's layout and imagining the everyday needs of its citizens, a cloud architect meticulously considers and constructs the digital space upon which an organization's data, applications, and services will reside.
Cloud Architects vs. Other IT Roles
We’ve written about some of the related (but different) IT roles that work alongside cloud architects. Here’s how their responsibilities compare to one another:
Software architects focus on designing the structure and behavior of software applications. They ensure that the company’s software – both online and offline, custom or out-of-the-box – functions efficiently and meets user requirements. While cloud architects design the environment where software operates, software architects design the software itself.
Network architects specialize in designing and managing an organization's network infrastructure. Cloud architects deal with cloud-based services, which can be part of that network, but network architects are also responsible for direct and on-premises network connectivity.
Solutions architects are problem solvers who design comprehensive solutions that address specific business needs. These can be cloud- or broadly IT-based, but often, this responsibility is just as much about people as it is about the digital business objectives. However, cloud architects often work closely with solutions architects to ensure that incoming and existing cloud-based components align with the organization’s overall goals and solutions framework.
Security architects focus on safeguarding an organization's digital assets. They design and implement security measures, including those in cloud environments. Cloud architects often use recommendations from security specialists to ensure that their infrastructure is safe, but they may not be as fully trained in specific security protocols and best practices.
Data architects focus on designing, creating, and managing data systems and structures within a business. This may include data modeling, database design and management, integration of various data sources, and ensuring the quality and security of the data used. Often, this data is used to provide the organization with a holistic, evidence-based view of their overall needs, and cloud architects can use that to design bespoke systems that solve the most pressing challenges.
What Does a Cloud Architect Do?
Cloud architects play a pivotal role in helping organizations leverage cloud technology effectively – and as the world leans more and more towards fully online workspaces, these are becoming more important with every passing day. As this type of IT specialist, these would be your key responsibilities:
Cloud Strategy: Cloud architects develop a cloud strategy aligned with the organization's goals. They decide which cloud services (public, private, hybrid) best suit the business's needs.
Design and Deployment: They design the cloud infrastructure, develop adoption plans, and oversee the deployment of applications and data into the cloud.
Cost Management: Cloud architects optimize necessary resources to manage costs. With so many options and customizations available, they work to ensure that organizations only pay for what they use and in the most efficient way possible.
Security and Compliance: They implement recommendations for security measures, perform regular audits of cloud performance and safety concerns, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations – which can often vary widely in different countries for large, multinational companies.
Performance Optimization: These professionals continuously monitor and fine-tune cloud resources to ensure optimal performance for what the company needs in the future. They scale resources up or down as necessary, and systematically make permanent changes to the cloud infrastructure on a larger scale when required.
Disaster Recovery: Along with data architects and other IT specialist roles, cloud architects design robust disaster recovery and backup solutions to protect against data loss and service disruptions in a worst-case scenario. This is increasingly important with the rise of ransomware, hacking, and data breaches for cloud applications.
Why Become a Cloud Architect?
Are you interested in working with and within the cloud? Do you want transferable skills that are sure to be relevant for years to come? Here are some of the best reasons to become a cloud architect.
The demand for cloud architects is high
The increasing adoption of cloud technology means organizations are actively seeking these experts to harness the benefits of the cloud, and virtually every organization is considering or already implementing cloud solutions. This translates into a growing demand for skilled cloud architects who can design, implement, and manage cloud-based systems.
The role is always evolving and dynamic
Cloud architecture is a dynamic field that keeps its people engaged and intellectually stimulated. The rapid pace of technological advancements and the continuous evolution of cloud platforms means that cloud architects are among the earliest adopters and users of new resources – and the first to face the new challenges they bring. If you like problem solving and innovation, you can thrive in this position.
Cloud architects make great salaries
The ability to design and manage complex cloud infrastructures, optimize cloud resources, and ensure security in the cloud environment is a valuable one. As with any job, salaries for cloud architects can vary based on external factors, but a cloud architect can push $200,000/year and sometimes higher.
You can keep growing your career
Cloud architects often find themselves on a career path with ample opportunities for growth and advancement. As they gain experience and expertise, they progress into leadership roles and take on more significant responsibilities that shape their organizations' future success. For ambitious professionals, this is a clear path for both personal and professional growth.
Skills Required for Cloud Architects
Is it difficult to become a cloud architect? That depends on your personality, previous experience, and specialty training. The most useful skills you can have or develop are:
Cloud Platform Expertise: Proficiency in major cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, or Google Cloud is essential. Cloud architects should understand the nuances, differences, and relative strengths and weaknesses of these platforms.
Digital Cloud Design: Strong visionary and design skills across cloud platforms enable these architects to create scalable, reliable, and secure cloud solutions.
Security Knowledge: A keen understanding of cloud security principles (and a desire to continually update your knowledge) is vital to protect data in the cloud. Remember, what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow!
Networking: Knowledge of cloud networking, including virtual networks and security groups, is crucial for designing robust and functional architectures.
Cost Management: Cloud architects must be skilled in optimizing cloud costs by selecting the right resources and scaling efficiently. This can make or break the budgets of smaller companies, so it is worth knowing inside and out.
Certifications: Industry-recognized certifications like AWS Certified Solutions Architect or Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect demonstrate expertise in cloud architecture.
Hiring a Cloud Architect
If you’re part of an organization that is looking into hiring a cloud architect for the first time, remember that this is a strategic decision for your digital future. You don’t want to rush into a decision on it. As you’re vetting candidates, here are some tips to narrow down the pool.
Seek candidates with a proven track record of designing and implementing cloud solutions that produced results. Putting the system in place is only one half of the equation.
Look for certifications relevant to the cloud platforms your organization uses and try to understand the difference between them as much as possible.
Cloud architects should excel at solving complex technical challenges and designing efficient cloud solutions. Knowing specific answers may not be as important as demonstrating the critical thinking necessary to reach them.
Effective communication may not be prioritized, but it’s absolutely critical as cloud architects collaborate with various teams and stakeholders who may not have any grasp of highly technical industry concepts.
Choose candidates who have shown they are willing to stay updated with emerging cloud technologies and trends.
Recruitment Help for Cloud Architects
If your organization is ready to embrace the cloud or needs to optimize its existing cloud infrastructure, finding the right cloud architect is the first step of a long and rewarding journey. At Talint Solutions, we specialize in connecting organizations with top-tier IT talent – including experienced cloud architects and many other roles. Contact us today to discover the perfect cloud architect to drive your organization's success!