It is a very good time to be working in cloud computing. Last year, digital transformation and the shift to remote working was facilitated by the cloud. While we hope to return to normality soon, cloud technology is also expected to dominate 2021. So, what does a career in cloud look like, and how can you get started?
Even before the pandemic, cloud computing was being suggested as a ‘recession-proof’ industry as it allows businesses to streamline processes and reduce costs. Between 2015 and 2018, job listings that included cloud-related terminology such as “Google Cloud,” “Azure,” or “AWS,” increased by 101%. Demand has been growing year after year ever since. Given that Forrester predicts that “the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021” it is likely that demand for those with cloud-based skills will continue to rise.
Careers in cloud computing are well paid — the average salary according to Reed.co.uk is £74,447 for a cloud engineer — and demand still outstrips supply. Finally, start-up companies often invest in cloud technology as they expand, so there will be opportunities to join exciting new companies during periods of early growth.
The roles across cloud computing all focus on the same underlying technology and therefore often utilise similar skills. Here is a quick overview of the three most commonly listed roles.
Cloud Architect: This role involves designing and implementing cloud solutions. A cloud architect focuses on the big picture infrastructure rather than the day-to-day configuration of individual systems, and they consider how cloud computing systems can fulfil business needs.
Cloud Engineer: This person is responsible for building, maintaining and linking to cloud services. There is a greater focus on the technical aspects of cloud computing. For example, an Architect might make a decision about which aspects of a business should be moved to the cloud (e.g. data storage), while the engineer actually makes this migration happen.
Cloud Security: This job is as it sounds. While cloud improves security in some respects, there are new cloud-specific vulnerabilities that have to be considered. Security experts will be in charge of ensuring data is kept safe and that regulatory standards are complied with.
In reality, there is significant overlap between these roles, especially in smaller organisations. Security often comes under an engineering role, while an engineer may be heavily involved in the design process. In much larger organisations, there may even be additional roles such as a Cloud Administrator, Cloud Application Developer and Cloud Automation Engineers.
Many of the core skills needed for a career in cloud overlap. To start off, a solid grounding in computer science is required across most roles. A degree is often preferable, although some employers are open to equivalent experience. Advanced programming skills are non-negotiable — especially to a cloud engineer. Java, Python and SQL are frequently listed as desirable languages.
It will also be important to have experience and/or a certification in at least one major cloud provider (AWS, Azure and Google Cloud). A growing multi-cloud landscape is emerging, so certification in multiple platforms will be a bonus. While qualifications like these prove you have obtained the necessary knowledge, it’s also important to be able to demonstrate these in a portfolio, so some design skills will come in handy too.
Less technical skills include communication and management — particularly for a cloud architect. Leading the design and implementation process means you will need to liaise with technical experts, while listening to and advising non-technical business audiences. Finally, Agile and DevOps approaches go hand in hand with cloud computing. Experience with the core concepts will help you integrate with the wider company and facilitate your work on the cloud.
Cloud computing is a lucrative and rewarding career. Regardless of what type of cloud-computing role you are after, it is important to first gain the technical skills and experience. Whether you join a start-up undergoing digital transformation or one of the big cloud providers, it is gaining these in-demand skills that will make you an invaluable part of an organisation’s infrastructure.