Cloud Pros Reveal the Key Characteristics of a Successful Cloud Infrastructure Architect

Cloud infrastructure architects have a challenging role, requiring knowledge of the latest technology and the skill to make complex systems and technology stacks function seamlessly. But the most successful cloud infrastructure architects recognize the importance of continuous learning to stay abreast of new developments and advancements in the field that can either improve infrastructure performance or streamline their working methods.

To gain more insights into what leading companies look for in cloud infrastructure architects, we asked five CEOs and IT leaders to answer the following question:

“What’s the most important characteristic of a successful cloud infrastructure architect?”

Find out what our panel had to say below.

Meet Our Panel of CEOs and IT Executives:


Ari WeilAri Weil

@yottaa

Ari is VP of Product Strategy at Yottaa, a cloud platform for optimizing web and mobile apps.

“The most important characteristic of a successful cloud infrastructure architect is…”

To be an objective and business-minded technologist. This sounds odd, but a challenge with many infrastructure architects in our experience is a lack of objectivity where it pertains to new technology and techniques. This often leads to a myopic mindset that is at odds with business objectives as the seasoned technologist works to save the company from itself. Cloud infrastructure architects have internalized best practices for building highly-scalable, fault-tolerant, secure, and performant architectures but embrace new products and technologies and can objectively weight the cost/benefit of old-vs-new and build-vs-buy.


Mark EstesMark Estes

Mark Estes has spent 15 years focused on building relationships and selling to enterprises in the technology industry. His last 7 years have focused specifically around Cloud Computing.

“Traditionally, Cloud Infrastructure Architects needed to truly understand…”

What impact to applications the cloud’s dynamic and elastic infrastructure caused. When infrastructure is no longer static, logic in applications has to change to be able to still perform reliably. The way you deploy applications in a completely elastic environment changes drastically from the way an application is deployed on fixed infrastructure in a data center. Understanding these best practices and how to architect and deploy applications for such an environment was once key to the success of a Cloud Architect. All of this still holds true today.

However, as more enterprises are moving more of their application portfolio to the cloud, Cloud Architects are now also being tasked with helping traditional, operationally focused IT teams adapt to this new DevOps/Cloud world. IT organizations were created and staffed with employees that could repeatedly execute defined processes and runbooks based on a fixed and reliable set of infrastructure as well as a slowly changing set of applications. As these environments have changed to become much more dynamic, as applications have changed to support these environments, as application teams become more agile and update applications much more frequently, and as the management of infrastructure has shifted to be implemented in code and now looks exactly like the application code, these IT organizations find themselves without the necessary developer skill sets to be able to provide value, deploy, and support these applications. As such, they are reaching out to Cloud Architects to start bridging the gap between legacy IT organizations and the new DevOps culture that inevitably is adopted as part of a migration to the cloud. Just understanding development and architecture is no longer enough for Cloud Architects; they now are also expected to understand both legacy IT operations and processes as well as help define what new IT operations should look like and how it should function as related to DevOps and the Cloud.


Marc WeaverMarc Weaver

@databasable

Marc Weaver is a vastly experienced database administrator with 15+ years of working for investments banks around the world. In 2015 he founded databasable, an IT consulting company that specializes in moving your databases into the cloud so you can save you time, money, and effort.

“For me, the single most important characteristic for a cloud infrastructure architect to have is…”

The ability to forget! Obviously I don’t mean to forget every technical skill you’ve ever learned, but the cloud provides the opportunity to do things completely differently. Because of that, you need to forget about the methodologies of old and embrace new ideas and practices.

A cloud infrastructure architect shouldn’t just have a lift-and-shift mentality. You have the opportunity to start from scratch and build things that are optimized to perform faster, designed to be easier to support, scalable (both larger and smaller), and also more secure.


Fahd KhanFahd Khan

@TheRealFahdKhan

@zsahLTD

Fahd Khan is a cloud Business Development manager at zsah – Managed Technology Services. zsah is a leading Managed Service Provider based in South Kensington, London. zsah delivers cost-effective, high quality managed services to a range of UK businesses operating across multiple sectors.

“When it comes to the cloud and knowing what makes a successful cloud infrastructure architect…”

It would be very hard to pinpoint one or two particular aspects of the role that are key to an architect’s success. However, if I were to put what I feel is essential into one sentence it would be someone with a dynamic approach,  possessing a wide area of expertise as cloud infrastructure requires intimate knowledge of many different technologies, brands, and operating systems, as well as multiple areas of computer science such as networking, security, and user management, among others. One key trait of the most successful infrastructure architects is staying up to date with the latest news and concerns with any given technology used, as well as what alternative technologies are appearing on the stage as the world of cloud computing is always moving and moving fast!


Mike TortoMike Torto

@EmboticsCorp

Mike Torto is the CEO of Embotics, the anti-shackles cloud management platform company with a no sales rep, vendor neutral, and easy to use, self-service IT solution that can be delivered before lunch. Their vCommander empowers enterprises and service providers to deliver ITaaS across any private, public, or hybrid environment without locking them into a platform.

“When it comes to the most important characteristics of a successful cloud infrastructure architect…”

We hire for the best culture fit. We deliberately seek out team members that have and crave a small enterprise setting that requires both great soft skills (communications, team work) and technical prowess. This type of “utility” player thrives in an organization like Embotics that challenges many skill sets. We expect to pay market rate for such talents and budget accordingly.

As a disruptor in the CMP ecosystem, every team member has to wear multiple hats since we are lean and all about innovation. At Embotics, our success is completely measured by how happy our customers are with vCommander and the ease of deployment. This requires that everyone, regardless of title or position on the organization chart, communicates professionally, articulately, and extremely effectively in all in-person and written communications. Naturally, interpersonal skills enabling architects to function seamlessly as part of a team are a very high priority and we deliberately hire with this desired skill set in mind.

Software, cloud, and other technical skills are in high demand in a global economy, and certainly some highly talented people are scooped up by tech giants. These large organizations have the luxury of keeping ultra techie types with limited soft skills in niche positions, and introverted types can thrive in an environment like that. However, given our stated needs to have each team member deal with customers and internal staff members, we require that any candidate have the “soft skills” along with the required tech skills to hit the ground running at hire. If we had to place a % on it, I would say that we look for a ratio of 50% soft skills and 50% tech skills. Of course, tech skills can also be enhanced and learned, but soft skills are tougher to coach.

Having the latest, most effective cloud management platform is great, but if you can’t tell your story to the world or get the internal team to get things done, none of the technical skills will matter for very long. At Embotics, we seek “utility players”. They have the ability to play multiple roles and possess both a strong work ethic and common sense. Attitude is our highest priority; the rest can be learned on the job. Our utility players are the ones that move onward and upward.