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What is a Cloud Architect (and how do you become one)?

So you want to be a Cloud Architect? We'll explain what they do, what a day in the life of one is like, and how to plot your Cloud Architect career path.

Jun 08, 2023 • 9 Minute Read

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Curious about building a career in the cloud as a Cloud Architect? We’ll look at the skills you need for a successful career in cloud architecture, what a day in their life looks like, and the pathways to reach a Cloud Architect role to see what first steps you can take to begin your career journey.

What is Cloud Architecture?

Architecture is the science of designing buildings and other physical structures and environments. But what happens when we apply it to a technology where there are no physical structures to work with?

Let's start with an insight into the powerful and fascinating world of designing and building environments in the cloud.

We can begin with thinking of architecture in the sense of designing and forming structures and applying critical thinking to the functions of various components. Whether you’re architecting a house or computing infrastructure, this is the same. 

When designing a house, the architect must ask more questions to understand the criteria in building a house. These questions might include:

  • Is it for a single person in the city? 
  • Is it for a large family in a rural area? 
  • Is it the next mansion for Scrooge McDuck? 

The same is true of a cloud architect. Beyond general wishes, there's a need to understand the inner workings too. 

Just as an architect for a home knows to attach a bathroom to the master bedroom and not a garden shed (unless the shed is really far away from the house), a Cloud Architect needs to understand a virtual machine doesn't work without a network or storage attached to it.

Are you looking to begin your Azure career or take your skills to the next level? Our Azure Cloud Architect learning path offers customized paths to excel your cloud journey!

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What are the requirements to be a Cloud Architect?

Building cloud architecture is a fine balance of art and deep technical knowledge in the cloud. Therefore it is very often a role for a more experienced person. Someone who has dealt with the nuances of cloud technology in order to deliver a solution that meets the needs of the big picture. 

To get a sense of what I mean by nuances. Let's look at some things that a Cloud Architect needs to be:  

  • Cloud Architects need a solid understanding of cloud computing fundamentals and its advantages and disadvantages. This helps you with your design, but also having this knowledge helps you avoid potential gotcha moments.
  • Cloud Architects need a solid knowledge of the options and limitations that cloud services can provide because they develop and coordinate the cloud architecture of the organization. This means laying the requirements, challenges, business needs, compliance restrictions, and more to eventually complete the organizational puzzle without any spare pieces left behind. (Hopefully.)
  • Cloud Architects need to be able to communicate — like really communicate. You need to be able to listen, understand, take what you hear and apply that to your problem solving. Not all of the problems that you'll be presented with will be strictly technical, nor will their solutions. 

Remember you as a Cloud Architect are the advocate for cloud adoption. Your solutions need to be cost-effective, scalable, and give your stakeholders not only what they want, but the stability and security they need. So advocate with knowledge because without it, it would be like a student teaching the class.

Interested in upscaling or beginning your journey with Cloud Architecture? A Cloud Guru's AWS Architect Learning Paths offers custom courses fit for beginners and advanced gurus! 

What does a Cloud Architect do?

So what does a day up in the clouds look like for an architect? Well, in no particular order, it can include:

  • Establishing best practices for cloud usage within an organization
  • Discussing real business problems and identifying opportunities with cloud technologies
  • Overseeing governance, AKA the rules and standards the cloud environment must abide by. 
  • IT security task to monitor privacy and develop incident response procedures. 
  • Plans to mitigate any risks that security and governance might have helped identify.
  • Estimating cloud infrastructure costs and meeting budgets. 
  • And of course, design and implement their cloud infrastructure. 

The tasks are large in responsibility and far reaching in impact, but that is part of the appeal of being a Cloud Architect. Big choices. Big impact. Every day.

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How do you become a Cloud Architect?

There are a lot of jobs you can get with certifications and the right skills. But cloud architecture is the pinnacle of working with and in cloud. 

While you aren't drawing buildings and bridges, you are using your knowledge, experience and intuition to build the strongest and most durable cloud infrastructure. This is the tricky part because there is no set path to becoming a Cloud Architect. 

Just as children play with LEGO, not all are destined to become master builders. It's only through experience and several projects that you can find yourself on a path towards becoming a Cloud Architect. 

Cloud Architect career paths

There are many different ways to peel the apple. But here are a few possible paths that could lead you to a career as a Cloud Architect.

cloud architect career path
  • You could start out in IT support, then go to a System Engineering role that could lead to a Database Administrator job, and then onto a Cloud Architect role. 
  • You could start out as a Developer, learn about DevOps and then build out system deployment processes. That could lead to a principal developer job. And then onto the Cloud Architect role.
  • You could focus on the data side and understand how data enters a system and become a Principal System Administrator, and then onto the Cloud Architect role. 

So what’s next if you want to become a Cloud Architect?

  • Through supporting roles, you will get some design and architecture knowledge. 
  • Garnish it with cloud certifications — specifically a cloud architecture certification from AWS, GCP or Azure for a huge advantage. 
  • Build on your communication skills and logical problem-solving skills to a point that you can preempt the situations. 

Cloud Architect career and certification resources

If you have some experience with cloud computing, but you want more, A Cloud Guru has courses, certifications, and other learning resources to help you strengthen your learning journey.

So, what's your next move? Wherever you want to go in the cloud, certifications and hands-on experience can help you get there. You could learn more about the value of certifications. Or maybe you're newer to cloud and looking to jump-start your cloud career. Whether you're wondering which AWS certification is right for you, what's the best Azure certification path, or you want to plot a career in Google Cloud, ACG can help.

How important is the Cloud Architect role?

Let's take a look at how Cloud Architects have made a big impact. In fact, it saved people's lives. 

The Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York was doing a research project into DNA sequences of breast and ovarian cancer patients in order to find links between the DNA and the diseases. They ended up with more than 100 terabytes of data, which needed to be stored and cataloged. That's just way too much data to be handled using traditional solutions. And all that information would have been almost unusable due to the resources needed to process it. 

When thinking of ways around this, they sent a list of criteria. The solution had to be cost effective, always available, and fast. 

Using Cloud Architects, they developed a fully cloud enabled solution that not only met their criteria, but was also more secure and offered a more collaborative approach to using the data. They saved thousands of dollars and cut costs to the equivalent of one day's worth of lunch. The researchers could then focus on using the data to save lives, instead of just focusing on the resources, just to use it.

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