By Paul Chen, Head of Solutions Architect, ASEAN, AWS
As the world rapidly evolves, digitalisation is taking place across all aspects of life, and ushering in a rise in cloud adoption. Today, it is vital for employees to understand and acquire the skills it takes to succeed and stay relevant for jobs in the digital economy. Cloud architects must keep up with the pace by adapting and expanding their existing skillset in order to be considered valuable candidates and employees.
As cloud adoption rises, it is not surprising to see growing demand for cloud expertise. Based on the Malaysian Institute of Accounts’ “MIA-ACCA Business Outlook Report 2020,” 25 percent of organisations in Malaysia say they are allocating at least 10 percent of their budget for technology, including investing in big data analytics (64 percent), cloud computing (57 percent) and more. Yet, research shows that 90 percent of IT decision-makers report cloud skills shortages in their workforce.
When I first started out in the IT industry years ago, the role of cloud architect was almost non-existent. However, cloud adoption has grown considerably since then, and the role of cloud architect is currently in high demand and will continue to present endless opportunities for business growth and innovation.
But first – what does a cloud architect do?
Cloud architects are responsible for managing an organization’s cloud computing architecture. They have in-depth knowledge of the architectural principles and services used to develop technical cloud strategy, assist with cloud migration efforts, review workload architectures, and provide guidance on how to address high-risk issues. To do this, cloud architects need a mix of business, technical, and people skills, as well as an understanding of the always-evolving, technical training that may benefit their team.
At Amazon Web Services (AWS), I lead a team of cloud solutions architect in Southeast Asia, and we are constantly on the lookout for individuals with a builder’s mentality and a desire to build, invent, and innovate on behalf of their customers. This is especially important as the role of cloud architect has evolved beyond just architecting infrastructure solutions like database and storage, to building and innovating reliable solutions that involve emerging technologies such as machine learning.
What skills are most important for a cloud architect?
Flexibility and Eagerness to Learn
A cloud architect must be able to work in a wide variety of scenarios and be open to learn the unique requirements of each project. With a curious mind-set, cloud architects can be better equipped to seek out new approaches to problem solving.
Cloud architecture professionals must possess strong time management skills. Their days are varied and can include customer meetings to discuss problems and needs and designing architectural frameworks for those needs. As such, cloud architects are mindful to plan their days, prioritize their time on tasks, and understand how to maximize small pockets of time.
Communication Skills, Business Acumen, and Decisiveness
Cloud architects are encouraged to ask for a seat at the decision-making table and be prepared to communicate their design to any stakeholder. Successful cloud architects know how to communicate to audiences with little or no technical knowledge, while aligning their recommendations to business imperatives and the bottom-line. Other than that, stakeholders also rely on cloud architects to provide guidance from a calm, leading place of domain authority.
Industry Technical Credentials
A cloud architect must also possess the necessary technical skills to serve as the foundation for cloud architecture planning and management, including basic programming, software development and continuous integration, database, networking and security skills, modern application architecture skills, and more.
Additionally, cloud architects can attain an industry-recognized certification, such as the new AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, which validates the ability to design and deploy well-architected solutions on AWS that meet customer requirements.
Over the last few years, I have seen cloud computing evolve from a relatively unknown technology to a leading driver of business results. While the technology has grown and changed significantly, most skills needed to succeed in its use have remained largely constant. By committing to understand how to use cloud to its full potential – and empowering the professionals who make that possible – we can make the most of the tremendous opportunity cloud creates for businesses and employees to thrive.
Paul Chen is the Head of Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services ASEAN who is responsible for managing a regional team of solutions architects, creating architectural best practices, and working with customers on how they use the cloud for business transformation.