2013: The Year of the Cloud Architect

Cloud Architect Job Trends graph

Cloud Architect Job Trends Cloud Architect jobs

During the past year, new technologies have paved the way for data center innovations, efficiencies and growth. A big part of that push has been cloud computing. However, cloud technology isn’t the end-all in defining how the data center has transformed. There are numerous underlying components which now help support both cloud computing and a more robust data center infrastructure.

Demand For Cloud Staff On the Rise

Looking ahead, more organizations, data center providers and vendors are going to need help with these evolving technologies. They’ll need people who are well-versed in multiple technological disciplines who can make educated decisions in line with business needs. These engineers and architects need the ability to think and work “outside of the box” – especially with the amount of new technologies directly affecting the data center.

Companies like RagingWire, 1&1 Internet, Rackspace, Equinix and other large data center and infrastructure providers are trying to acquire as many talented, cloud-ready  architects as possible. In looking for the prime candidate, here’s what they’re aiming for:

  • Personality and Communication. This is probably one of the first traits that’s gauged during an interview or conversation. Great communicators make great architects. That’s not all there is to it, of course. Still, the ability to translate deeply technical conversation into intelligent business-level discussion is very valuable. Architects often act as the knowledge liaison between vendors, technical experts, engineer, managers and executives.  
  • Virtualization Design. From a technology perspective, this is a big field. At this point in the virtualization conversation, we’re not just talking about server virtualization. Although it’s an important part, other technologies will have an effect on the data center as well. Newer platforms such as user, application and desktop virtualization are helping shape how high-density equipment goes into a data center. Good architects will understand the virtualization landscape, underlying requirements and the long-term goals of a given organization. This way, the architect can put all of the pieces together to make a more efficient data center environment.  
  • Cloud and Distributed Computing. Much like virtualization, cloud computing comes as new territory for a typical data center. WAN-based technologies and distributed computing have been important for some time, but more organizations jumping on the bandwagon than ever before. There is more need for distributed data delivery, cloud services stemming from a data center, and bandwidth for all of this to grow. Architects need to know how WAN technologies play a role in data center design and how a given organization can best utilize their resources. Whether a services platform is being designed or a customer is requesting a site-to-site link – the architect should be able to speak intelligently on how the data center and the cloud work together for maximum efficiency.
  • Data Center Design and Management. Outside of mastering all the above technologies, data center architects still need to know the intricacies of the typical data center. So, knowledge around power, cooling, space, rack configurations, hot/cold aisle control, physical security and other vital data center functions is still very important. The best architects are able to couple this knowledge with all of these technologies.
  • Disaster Recovery. A big request from many organizations, recently, has revolved around disaster recovery and business continuity. In combining data center services, cloud computing and virtualization, DR services can be a very lucrative offering. More environments are creating SLAs and direct services around a customized DR solution. Hot, warm and cold sites are becoming less expensive and more manageable. The trick is designing this with the cloud, virtualization and a very distributed environment in mind. A data center cloud architect will be able to see the big picture and understand how all of these technologies play together to create a solid DR solution.

There’s really no such thing as stagnation in the IT world. With the speed of today’s innovations, data center managers and administrators have to keep up. Where some are offering physical environment services, more providers are beginning to expand their product suite. This includes, cloud services, disaster recovery, backup and even implementation. This new trend creates the need for good people with solid communication skills who are able to understand a variety of different technologies.

This doesn’t mean they have to be an absolute, engineering-level expert in every cloud or virtualization technology. Data center cloud architects need to be diverse in their technology knowledge and understand all of the underlying cloud components and how they interact with the modern data center. From there, there is a big need for these architects to then successfully communicate their ideas and thoughts in both a technical and business manner. Moving forward, this type of talent will be very much in demand.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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  1. This rise of the cloud architect - aka cloud angel - is happening in the UK. Both UK permanent & contract 'cloud' job numbers have hit a reporting year high. See: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Arym23IJ0KT6dDlSc3JNZGZVUExqVUpaRDgwbVowbHc#gid=18 Watch those cloud angels fly! Neil Mills MillsHill

  2. While I don't disagree, does your graph show that this rise is indicated by a rise from 0.05% to 0.15%? So around 1 in 750 jobs is a Cloud Architect role? That's not exactly a keen trend! I don't believe people will be asking for "Cloud Architects", I think they'll expect Technical / Solutions / Enterprise Architects to understand the fundamental principles of cloud computing and be able to execute on them. In the same way that today we expect them to be fully aware of virtualisation, storage and networking, it's just the next logical design principle.

  3. Bill Kleyman Post author

    @Chris -- Great observation and thanks for the comment! Cloud computing is, as you put it, the next logical design in infrastructure development. The idea here is to raise awareness around technologies which make up the cloud. More organizations are going to look for folks with a clear vision of not only how the cloud operates, but how it can directly (and positively) impact a business organization. Cloud-ready architects are already in high demand. This is only going to increase in 2013.