So You Want to Be a Cloud Architect? Part II

cloud architect In Part I of this cloud architect series, we highlighted that business skills are at least as important as technical skills for the cloud architect. Here in Part II, we’ll propose three levels of cloud architect, describe the specific skills needed for each level, and make a suggestion on how to obtain these skills.


Levels of the Cloud Architect

At GreenPages, we think of three different levels of cloud architect. Through many client conversations, it has become clear that there are common perspectives on cloud:

  • Moving to cloud or “cloud as a bucket”
  • Cloud as a DevOps enabler, to take advantage of cutting edge development concepts
  • Cloud as a management paradigm, particularly to enable self-service and request management
  • A service rationalization strategy

So, the three levels of the cloud architect include the Integration, Developer, and Principal.

  • The Integration Architect has the ability to capture requirements, develop a bill of materials, and help an organization migrate their services to cloud providers. I’d want an integration Architect on staff to help me with a datacenter consolidation/modernization/rationalization project.
  • The Developer Architect builds on the skills of the Integration Architect and focuses on the ability to transform an organization’s development community to use cloud services efficiently. I’d want a Developer Architect on staff to take on a DevOps transformation project.
  • The Principal Architect builds on the Integration and Developer levels by focusing on improving the business’s ability to compete, through the use of cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, XaaS) as well as the capabilities of cloud and DevOps. IT Service Portfolio skills are important here to understand an IT organization and what it does for the business as a consumer. Analysis and measurement of the business’s activities/processes/revenues/expenses is also important in this role. An individual in this role might lead a team of cloud architects to transform or build an entire business – perhaps a business that provides cloud services. Further, the individual in this role focuses on possibilities more than analysis of requirements.


{Download John’s eBook “The Evolution of Your Corporate IT Department“}


Training and Certification

So, which specific skills or certifications are needed for each level?

cloud architect

In a quick look at Coursera, I came across two courses, offered free of charge, that would be helpful for the cloud architect.

On a sidenote, I think Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a great thing and a nice use of cloud technology (the “flexible capacity” characteristic). Looking ahead, I expect that one would be able to obtain, from a MOOC, all of the training they need to become a cloud architect (amongst other things).

Available from a MOOC for $0.00

GreenPages certifies these levels of cloud architects by validating past certifications and industry experience. We also provide a training course to bring together the skills from various certifications and make them relevant for the cloud architect. Instead of needing to know the complete details of every aspect of these certifications, I think there are some core concepts that are highly applicable to the work of a cloud architect. Consider ITIL v3 in particular. While it is helpful to know how Incident and Problem Management processes work, the cloud architect absolutely needs to know the details of Service Strategy for one. Why? Not to understand which cloud services are available, but to help their organization develop their portfolio of IT services – some of which may be great candidates to source to a cloud service. On a related note, why are we hammering the idea that a cloud architect needs to have all of this business expertise? Well, once IT is defined in terms of the services it delivers, the cloud architect can then analyze that portfolio to identify which services provide the business with a competitive edge, and which services do not (I like to call the latter “commodity” services). The cloud architect may make sourcing recommendations based on this analysis. The table below lists the concepts from various certifications that are important for the cloud architect.

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In Part III I’ll go into more depth on two things:

  • The training course that we provide to tie all of this together
  • The roles and responsibilities of a cloud architect

I’d love to hear your feedback on the role of the cloud architect, especially anything additional that you think the role needs to have. Leave comments below!