As cloud adoption soars, cloud architect becomes a top career choice

Could you imagine 15 years ago telling your colleagues, or your college career officer, that you wanted to someday be a 'cloud architect'?
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Make room, enterprise architects, data architects and systems architects. There's a new architect in town, the "cloud architect," and his or her role is to make sure clouds are staying in formation.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the gist of a survey of 997 technology professionals conducted by RightScale, which documents a shifting role for IT managers and professionals in the emerging cloud-centric enterprise.

The role of cloud architect is on the rise, the survey shows. This year, the survey finds 61 percent of architects identify themselves as cloud architects, an increase from 56 percent in 2017. The percentage of architects identifying themselves as "IT architects" has decreased to 31 percent in 2018 from 35 percent in 2017.

So what does a cloud architect do? According to our friends at TechTarget, a cloud architect "is an IT professional who is responsible for overseeing a company's cloud computing strategy. This includes cloud adoption plans, cloud application design, and cloud management and monitoring." A perusal of the Dice.com listings finds the following job descriptions now in demand, often specifying AWS or Azure focus:

  • "Enterprise cloud architect provides thought leadership and hands-on engagement to develop, direct and implement innovative technology and business solutions. This role will impact the full spectrum of technology and engineering development, influencing infrastructure, data and application design, hosting and optimization."
  • "Responsible for the design and build-out of the cloud ecosystem. Works collaboratively across the IT organization to deliver AWS, Azure, and private cloud services. Specializes in cloud solution design and deployment as well as automation to deliver scalable, predictable, consumable, and secure cloud capabilities."

There you have it. Could you imagine 15 years ago telling your colleagues, or your college career officer, that you wanted to someday be a cloud architect? Who knows what funky titles will be in vogue in another 15 years!

The RightScale survey also uncovered some other interesting findings about the state of cloud computing this year. There's less IT involvement in cloud selection, but at the same time, more if it is being eventually handed over to IT. (Or shall we say dumped on IT's lap?)

It appears business leaders and managers are more confident in their own ability to engage cloud services, without IT involvement. Enterprises see IT departments as taking on less of a role in selecting public cloud services, dropping from 56 percent a year ago to 36 percent today. For private cloud selection, the perceived role of IT dropped from 46 percent to 36 percent.

At the same time, enterprise IT is increasingly being charged with making the cloud perform as it it should. IT departments are seen as taking a stronger cloud governance role in advising on which apps move to cloud (69 percent vs. 63 percent in 2017), managing costs (64 percent vs. 55 percent), setting policies (60 percent vs. 58 percent), and brokering cloud services (60 percent vs.54 percent).

This is in line with the evolution of IT toward advisory and brokerage roles in enterprise technology choices. The best solutions may come from a cloud provider; they may come from the company's own data center. It's up to IT to present business leaders with the best options and help put those options in place.

Fittingly, there is also a move toward more cloud governance. The survey finds 57 percent of enterprises already have a central cloud team or center of excellence with another 24 percent planning one. These central teams are focusing on planning which applications to move to cloud (69 percent), optimizing costs (64 percent), and setting cloud policies (60 percent).

Some specific technology trends tracked in the survey:

"Extended" public cloud services -- covering newer initiatives such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and Database as a Service, and containers -- are on the rise. This includes database-as-a-service (DBaaS) (44 percent), container-as-a-service (19 percent), NoSQL DBaaS (28 percent), machine learning (12 percent), and IoT Services (6 percent).

Private cloud adoption grows across the board: Overall, VMware vSphere continues to lead with 50 percent adoption, up significantly from last year (42 percent). OpenStack (24 percent), VMware vCloud Director (24 percent), Microsoft System Center (23 percent), and bare metal (22 percent) were all neck and neck.

Cloud container services grow: Overall Docker adoption increased to 49 percent from 35 percent last year. Kubernetes grew even faster, almost doubling to reach 27 percent adoption. AWS' container service reached 44 percent adoption (a growth rate of 26 percent from 2017), while Azure's reached 20 percent and Google's reached 14 percent.

Ansible is shaking up configuration tools: Ansible grew the fastest and is now tied with and Chef at 36 percent adoption each, followed by Puppet at 34 percent adoption and Terraform at 20 percent. Among enterprises, however, Chef (48 percent) and Puppet (47 percent) are in a virtual tie, while Ansible leads among smaller organizations.

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