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09 May 2017

What does it take to be a Cloud Architect?

What skills and perks are required from a Cloud Architect? What is typical work day like for a Cloud Architect? Read this blog post to find out more!

Samuli Ahola

At Nordcloud, thanks to very rapid growth across Europe, we are constantly looking for new Cloud Architects. But what does it actually take to be a fit for Cloud Architect's role? What are the requirements, responsibilities and what is a Cloud Architects typical work day like? 

In the core of Nordcloud's customer projects are our Cloud Architects. If it wouldn't be for them, there would be no customer's data infrastructure lifted to public cloud platforms, not to even mention any automated workloads or managed services provided. Still the title "Cloud Architect" seems unclear to many. Also, it appears that in different companies, the role might actually in fact be quite different. 

Google describes Google-certified Cloud Architect's skill set as following: 

  • Design and plan a cloud solution architecture
  • Manage and provision the cloud solution infrastructure
  • Design for security and compliance
  • Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
  • Manage implementations of cloud architecture
  • Ensure solution and operations reliability.

Gunnar Menzel, Chief Architect for cloud infrastructure services at Capgemini gave this description of Cloud Architect's role in Computer World UK's article in February this year:

"The role of the architect is to understand the needs of the business and work out how to implement this change through technology – they are the intermediators between the engine room and the boardroom, ensuring that both sides have visibility on the task in hand to get the job done."


What about Nordcloud's Cloud Architects? 

At Nordcloud, Cloud Architects are working with three technology powerhouses, since we're partners with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. We have offices in London, Stockholm, Münich, Oslo, Amsterdam, Helsinki and Póznan, so our Cloud Architects are constantly working in an international environment. It is also possible to work in projects in other countries as well, if one happens to be bitten by a travel bug.  

On a daily basis, our Cloud Architects are working with a tool box which includes Linux, Puppet, Chef, Ansible, Python, Ruby, Bash, Powershell, AWS, Azure, Jenkins, Docker, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB among many others. Infrastructure is often managed as code with Git repository in use. Customer projects vary from new builds and migrations to audits and big data. Cloud Architects are working closely with our sales team, especially when creating new products and offerings. At Nordcloud, architect's role varies in different projects (depending on the project's requirements), and architects will have the opportunity to develop their roles & selection of different "hats" they'll be wearing in our projects, which they'll get to follow from start to release. We don't expect anyone to be a full-stack cloud guru when joining us, but we do expect all our Cloud Architects to be eager to learn, have the smarts, and develop their skills at pace with the industry. In the beginning of every architect's career at Nordcloud, we expect everyone to complete a suitable certification (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) within the first six months. 


Typical workday of a Cloud Architect at Nordcloud

No one knows better the daily tasks and challenges, that a Cloud Architect faces at Nordcloud, than our architects themselves. We interviewed Jukka and Miguel from our Helsinki office about their typical workday - if such a day actually exists. 


Miguel Ferreira, a Cloud Architect from Nordcloud's Helsinki office:

"Since my joining Nordcloud, there hasn't really been a typical workday. Or rather, what is typical has changed dramatically with each new project. Customers have different expectations on the amount of expertise and responsibility that you will bring in - so while in some cases you might be helping troubleshoot and translate an application to a more cloud-friendly architecture, bringinging infrastructure up via templates, doing configuration management, migrating data, automating tasks via scripts - in other cases you might be a key person interfacing with project managers, "non-cloud" architects and multiple vendors in order to get everyone on the same page. You might be responsible for the backup and security strategy of the customer's data, called upon to manage a cloud-migration project in terms of time and resources, or develop a new approach to some problem and draw-up a simple diagram to communicate it.


I feel that I've been working with state of the art tools and approaches and that my experience here has added me huge professional value. From source control with GIT to build automation with Jenkins or Bamboo, using Cloudformation or Terraform to bring up repeatable infrastructure, using Chef, Puppet or Ansible to configure servers, running services in Docker or Lambda, building images with Packer, and using the variety of cloud-provided services that greatly simplify your life, via a CLI interface or directly in the UI. It's amazing how fast one acquires experience in the public cloud here at Nordcloud and how fast you are able to start advising others on it. This is due to an open culture where responsibility is shared and where it's easy to build up confidence in the work you deliver."


Jukka Forsgren, a Cloud Architect from Nordcloud's Helsinki office:

"I work at a named customer where I mainly design and build new cloud environments on top of AWS. It requires good team work and understanding of business needs. The main motivator is to enable faster application development and agile delivery of services to end-users. Being able to provide new digital services and features in a rapid pace is becoming a big advantage to businesses of all sizes. I also work on monitoring, documentation and processes so that these cloud environments can be transferred to our Managed Services who keep them up and running smoothly 24x7.


From a purely technical standpoint, with this customer, infrastructure is managed with Terraform across multiple AWS accounts that are connected to customer's internal networks with Direct Connect. Different AWS services and features are used on a pretty wide scale, because they provide huge efficiency gains compared to traditional data centers where you have to maintain everything yourself. For the instances themselves, we use use Packer with Ansible and try to use immutable architecture where-ever possible, meaning that AMIs are pre-built with everything baked in. For more traditional workloads, the same playbooks can also be run against running instances. Most of the software is deployed in Docker containers using Docker EE. Everything is kept in Git repository so workflow for Cloud Architects is similar to software development. Every friday I work at our own office in Kamppi, Helsinki, to catch up with colleagues
and have a lunch together."


How could I become a Cloud Architect at Nordcloud?

There are three possible paths you can take, if you want to become a Cloud Architect: 

1. Already skilled & certified cloud specialist:

Excellent. We are happy to discuss more with you right away. Give us a few lines here and we will be in touch with you. Whether you're specializing in AWS, Azure or Google Cloud, we'd be happy to get you on board and get you a role in projects, where your onboarding will be taken care of by our other Cloud Architects and CTO's while you're also working with our customer projects.  

2. Nordcloud Academy / Azure Academy

Nordcloud Academy and Azure Academy train IT experts in modern cloud architecture over a six month period and offer in-depth cloud education for both junior and senior IT specialists. The program consists of classroom training, self-learning, and most importantly learning by working on projects with our Senior Cloud Architects. After the intensive Academy we will have a bunch of new Cloud Specialists. 

Next Nordcloud Academy will start in September 2017, and applying period opens up during the summer. Stay tuned! 

3. Nordcloud Training

New in your Cloud journey, but eager to learn more, or you already know something about the Cloud but some important pieces are missing? We offer hands-on training for AWS and Azure (coming in 2017). These are the courses we offer at the moment: 

  • AWS Technical Essentials
    An Excellent starting point to get to know the AWS cloud and its products, services, and solutions - in just one day. 

  • Architecting on AWS
    Gain a comprehensice overview to AWS fundamentals, architectural design patterns, and how to build cloud solutions during this three day course. 

  • SysOps on AWS
    Get thorough hands-on practise in operating highly available and scalable infrastructure while working on the command line interface with the three day System Operations on AWS course.

  • Developing on AWS
    Get thorough hands-on practise in operating highly available and scalable infrastructure while working on the command line interface with the three day System Operations on AWS course.

  • Big Data on AWS
    Learn how to manage and process huge amounts of data effectively and efficiently using the AWS cloud by completing this three day course.

We are constantly looking for Cloud Architects all across Europe. However, we do have other positions available as well - check them all out from below! 

See open positions! 

About Nordcloud

Nordcloud is a European leader of public cloud infrastructure solutions and services. Since 2012 we've completed over 300 deployments to help our enterprise customers gain the maximum benefits of the cloud including security, agility, scalability and overall cost-savings. As an independent cloud-native company, we are representing all globally leading cloud technology providers neutrally for the customers’ benefit. With a strong Nordic heritage, Nordcloud is headquartered in Helsinki with offices in Stockholm, Malmö, Oslo, London, Amsterdam, Poznan and Munich.

If you'd like to talk with Nordcloud to see how you can benefit from the cloud then contact us and we'll arrange a meeting for you with one of our cloud experts.
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