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5 Skills a Cloud Architect Needs to Succeed

If your goal is to build a successful cloud architect career, it is critical that you value and grow in technical competency, business acumen, leadership, sales, and communication.

Securing a job as a cloud architect demands a deep understanding of cloud tools and technologies. But that alone will not make you successful. There are a host of other critical skills needed to thrive in the field of cloud architecture. Here are the top five:

1. Technical competency

The first critical skill is technical competency. What are we really talking about? We're talking about extreme knowledge of the network in the data center. This is critical because the majority of what cloud architects do involves taking things that are in the network in the data center and migrating them to the cloud. It is impossible to migrate what we don't understand, so network and data center knowledge is most critical. This includes knowledge of the network, knowledge of servers, knowledge of load balancers, firewalls, storage, and databases. All the technology we have in the networking data center is the same technology we have in the cloud. To be competent in migrating the tech from the network in the data center to the cloud, we must have good, strong network and data center knowledge.

2. Business acumen

The next skill that we need is a high degree of business acumen. As cloud architects, we are digital transformation specialists. Customers come to us to improve their businesses and we craft an end-to-end technology solution to solve their business problems. If we don’t understand our customers’ business, it will be impossible for us to create effective solutions for their business problems.

We must be able to read their financial statements, their balance sheets, and do ROI modeling. To implement the technology that will make the customer’s business better, we must be able to truly understand how their business works. If we don’t understand their business, we are just adding technology, which might make it better or might make it worse. So, business acumen is critical for the cloud architect.

3. Leadership skills

Leadership skills are also critical for a cloud architect. Here's the reason why: as a cloud architect, we will go to the customer’s site and ask some questions. Then we will need to baseline the current systems. To accomplish that effectively might require a team of 50 cloud engineers to come in and evaluate the customer’s systems. We can't do that if we don't have leadership skills.

We will need to effectively manage people to do proof of concept and deployments. We may be managing a team of 10 people or 20 people or 100 people. Without leadership skills, we can't do the job. We need to lead our employees into wanting to work and actually doing the job. Leadership skills are used to make sure our employees are motivated, bought into the project, and contributing to the team.

4. Sales skills

Sales skills are absolutely critical. In a cloud architect's life, we're constantly selling. We design a solution, and we need to sell it to the customer. That requires sales skills. We go to our management to request resources to implement the solution and we need to sell them on releasing those resources. That requires sales skills. We have people on our project who we need to motivate to accomplish the work. Again, that requires sales skills. You want a promotion in your career -- sales skills. You give a presentation; you're going to need to have sales skills. Sales skills are critical for the cloud architect because we have to sell to get our job done. We sell to our internal management, our internal stakeholders, and our customers.

5. Strong communications

Probably the most critical skill for the cloud architect is communication. Nobody hands us a piece of paper that says, “Build this.” Rather we go to the customer, and we ask them questions about their business. We ask a lot of questions and determine the business requirements. We need to be able to get the right information from our customers because without the right information the solutions we design will be incorrect.

We then need to take those business requirements back and talk to a team of technology professionals, which means we need to know how to communicate to the tech people as well as the businesspeople. We need to know how to communicate to a CEO versus a CFO versus a CTO. We need to know how to make a presentation in front of an audience with thousands of people in it. So, communication skills, which include communicating to our customers, communicating to our teammates, and communicating to our internal organizations, are critical. To succeed, you need stellar communication skills.