What does a cloud architect do and how can you become one?

More and more companies have opted for cloud data storage and processing. This caused the demand for professionals in this sector, such as cloud architects, to increase over the past few years. “We noticed a very high demand for professionals with this specialty in Brazil,” says Caio Arnaes, senior recruitment manager at Robert Half.

The strong demand for architects comes from the enormous need, at this moment, to redesign computing environments so that they are implemented in the cloud, points out Mauricio Fernandes, president of Dedalus.

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The first to look for this “new professional” are companies in the IT area. In general, those who do not yet have a team of these specialists are expanding or forming an internal team of experts in the cloud.

“Cloud computing is the enabler of scalable business models and flexible customer experience architectures,” explains Renato Brisola, vice president of sales at Salesforce.

Therefore, when the professional is not hired directly, it is common for companies to seek services on demand from partners or from the software manufacturers themselves. “Cloud architecture is a career opportunity for Salesforce's own solution engineers, in addition to industry and technology experts in the market,” says Brisola.

Wages are in line with requirements. The salary ranges for a cloud architect range, on average and according to Robert Half, from R$ 9 thousand to R$ 19 thousand, depending on the time of experience, company size or demand of this position in the market. “Salaries are on the rise due to the shortage of senior professionals and should continue to do so for some time, but there is a wide range of values, I would say from R$ 4 thousand to R$ 25 thousand”, reveals Fernandes.

Where to look for a job

There are currently two very clear demands on the market for cloud architects. “One of them comes from cloud service providers, who act as advisors to customers. Due to the know-how acquired in serving companies with very different characteristics, this type of company has a high demand for highly specialized architects in complex scenarios ”, says Mário Rachid, Executive Director of Digital Solutions at Embratel.

The other demand comes from cloud native companies, which have a high rate of innovation, with a very large use of cloud and, at the same time, are already used to using advanced resources within each Cloud Provider. “This type of company has a high internal demand for Cloud architects and a great pressure for speed and knowledge about the company's business, which may justify keeping these professionals in-house,” explains Rachid.

As Cloud Computing is a strategic service for Embratel, today the operator works with a team of around 70 cloud architects distributed in the areas of products, pre-sales and operations. “They are very specialized professionals, with several certifications.”

Without mistakes

In general, people think of an architect as the technical person who takes care of the Cloud and this is very wrong. “Architecture, the name already clarifies, is related to Project. Thus, the cloud architect has the function of designing, designing, dimensioning and suggesting a Cloud solution ”, explains Fernandes.

If we think that a traditional architect has an important role in civil works, alongside engineers, decorators and workers, in the cloud the situation is similar. “The architect has a similar role and, therefore, must have a training similar to the traditional architect: knowledge of several different technologies, in addition to being a good communicator, either in writing or in meetings, since he is the person who normally involves with the presentation and technical convincing of the chosen solution. ”

Profile searched

What training and characteristics of a cloud architect? First, you need to know that there is no official or mandatory degree or certification. Experience and expertise, of course, are what count at the end of the day.

Brisola says that there is space for different profiles. However, it is important that the professional has an approach that adds three points: focused on the business, pragmatic and guided by the minimum viable product.

Creating and managing a successful corporate architecture role requires a variety of different physical and virtual skills. In addition, since each company is different, the corporate architecture function needs to calibrate and align with the specific company.

Vision of the whole is fundamental. The cloud architect, warns Fernandes, cannot understand only the cloud or be a “born in the cloud”, since the world is hybrid. That is, the systems will continue to depend on infrastructure and systems on traditional platforms.

So, it is important that he knows about integration, performance, data security, etc. In addition, as Cloud increasingly affects customers' business, they must understand business, the cost of downtime, the risk and human challenge of IT people or not, in adopting a Cloud environment. "At Dedalus, we separate by specialties, we have architects more focused on technology (SaaS, IaaS) and others more focused on understanding the complete challenge, including our clients' business."

Fernandes recommends theoretical and practical training, but one that is deep and balanced. There are courses from the main providers available on the web, such as AWS and Microsoft, but he warns not to discard academic knowledge, the classroom. "And accept internships in a team of high-performance architects."

There is still a new factor. The profile of the cloud architect has changed very quickly in recent years. “When we talk about the cloud, there are at least three very latent specialties: infrastructure, platform and software”, explains Rachid.

Initially, the profile was closely associated with the infrastructure or operations architect, who migrated services to the cloud platform and had to adapt. Over time, with software development methodologies changing rapidly, looking at the infrastructure layer alone is no longer enough.

“Then, there is a need for architects who have a more complete profile, with high knowledge in development, security and infrastructure,” says Rachid. The Cloud Computing architect is a natural evolution of the solutions architect, who, in legacy environments, addressed the demand for infrastructure and software.

If before the Cloud Computing professional was very connected to the operations part, today he already has an active participation in the design of solutions, in decision making and in the monitoring of projects.

Trend skills

As Embratel's executive director reveals, there are three:

Information security - This skill is becoming increasingly necessary in specialists and, mainly, being demanded as an essential profile of a professional. Complementing the understanding of security at the infrastructure level, the Cloud architect also needs to know solutions for the software layer.

Software architecture - The new software solutions already have Cloud in their architecture. Technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence are already presented in their concept making use of Cloud Computing, including as a competitive differential. The professional who intends to enter this area will, at some point, face this type of demand and even though there is no need to be an expert in any of them, understanding the dynamics of use and its general characteristics is of paramount importance. “In addition, knowledge of agile software development processes and Infraestructure as Code (DevOps) broadens the range of options to get the best out of each cloud.”

Scalable infrastructure - To support the use of the Cloud's native characteristics and benefits, knowledge of Elastic Infrastructure is considered essential for cloud architects. With this knowledge, it is possible to define policies and scripts capable of automatically increasing and reducing the use of resources, increasing resilience and scalability and significantly lowering costs with Cloud Providers.

reference: ComputerWorld

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Felipe Santos
Felipe Santos is a Cloud and Security Architect, with experience in Windows Server, Cluster, Storages, Backups Veeam and Office 365 environments.
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