Top 10 Cloud Architect Skills

This article on cloud architect top skills is featured in SDxCentral’s Cloud Architect Career Guide.

Skills specific for cloud architects will vary depending on an organization’s specific cloud infrastructure. It’s a good idea to have a broad range of experience and the aptitude to pick up new skills quickly. There are several certification courses available through edX, industry groups, and open-source foundations, both for free and for a testing fee. Here are the top 10 cloud architect skills.

Network Engineering and/or Administration
Cloud architects tend to previous experience as network administrators, says Dan Kohn, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

“The most typical background is someone who is familiar with system administration, who knows how to provision individual servers and then moves up and begins thinking in terms of fleets of servers instead,” Kohn says.

Knowledge of deploying and operating different network types, as well as working with software-defined networks in general, is a must.

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Kubernetes & Docker
Containers are becoming an essential part of cloud administration and architecture. Kubernetes and Docker are two major tools for building and managing containers. Kubernetes’ skills, in particular, are in high demand — between October 2015 and October 2019, the share of Kubernetes jobs per million grew by 2,141% while the share of Kubernetes job searches increased 2,125%, according to Indeed. gives an overview of sites that offer a comprehensive education, as does Docker.

Programming Languages
While specifics will depend on the cloud in question, knowing the popular languages (Java, Perl, Python, and C#) will cover your bases for cloud infrastructure and cloud-native apps. Kohn also recommends knowing Go, which is the language Docker and Kubernetes are written in.

Security is becoming more of an essential cloud architect skill than ever, especially as regulations tighten. While more organizations are now hiring a separate cloud security architect, having a background in security contributes to end-to-end cloud security. Identity and access management is also essential. More employees are accessing the cloud directly, as well as knowledge of privacy laws and regulations.

Multi-Cloud Architecture
Multi and hybrid cloud strategies are a popular way for organizations to migrate their clouds, especially if they need to adhere to privacy regulations that require an on-premises data center.

While it’s often recommended that candidates focus on a specific cloud suite, such as AWS, this can actually be detrimental.

“There’s a huge level of interest and demand for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud,” Kohn said. “I would really encourage people to have at least a passing familiarity with the other major clouds. And the reality is bigger enterprises is that you tend to have acquisitions, so you wind up with a multi-cloud strategy almost by default, whether you’re planning to or not.”

Data Storage
This includes knowledge of infrastructure and hardware (especially if you will be working with on-premises clouds), storage buckets, provisioning and capacity planning, and data security.

Content presentation and communication skills are essential, especially since cloud architects are now tasked with explaining their work to non-technical colleagues, says Jim Johnson, senior VP of Robert Half Technology.

“Being able to articulate to a CIO the impact [of the cloud] … communication is a key piece of that,” Johnson said. “And so to cultivate that, you need to talk to the users about what you’re providing. [You need to] check for understanding and make sure that you’re not talking over or talking under those individuals… about how well your services or your current environment are supporting them.”

Cloud architects are often expected to lead a team. Being able to manage multiple people, handle ideas diplomatically, delegate, and solve problems as a group is essential. Candidates should cultivate leadership skills often and early, Johnson said.

The cloud will continue to change, as will the skillsets needed to work with it. Staying flexible to new technologies, and having the aptitude to pick them up quickly, is essential.

“The specific skill sets in need are going to evolve over time,” Kohn said. “I think there are tons and tons of opportunities in the cloud. And it is an ongoing effort. It’s not going to stay static.”

Business Acumen
Business is becoming a huge part in how organizations are selecting and shaping their clouds. Being a cloud architect is no longer about just administering to the cloud. It’s about helping a company in that shaping.

Johnson recommends taking a course in business or consulting, especially if you’re still getting a degree.

“Part of that might be a minor in business, or maybe even accounting to understand how the financials and numbers help drive businesses as well,” Johnson said. “But [it should be] anything that gives you that exposure to what it takes to drive business, create a business, and run a business, with that technology understanding.”

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