Top Skills Cloud Architects Need for Success

Image credit: iStockphoto/metamorworks

As businesses are using cloud technologies to transform at a rapid pace, many recognize that their organization needs cloud expertise to achieve their goals. Yet, research shows that 90% of IT decision-makers report cloud skills shortages in their workforce. Professionals with cloud architecture expertise in how to best plan, design, develop, migrate, and operate applications in the cloud are in high demand.

When I first started out in the IT industry years ago, the role of cloud architect was almost nonexistent. However, cloud adoption has grown considerably since then, and the role of a cloud architect is currently in high demand. It will continue to present endless opportunities for business growth and innovation.

But first — what does a cloud architect do?

Cloud architects are responsible for managing an organization’s cloud computing architecture. They have in-depth knowledge of the architectural principles and services used to develop a technical cloud strategy, assist with cloud migration efforts, review workload architectures, and provide guidance on addressing high-risk issues. To do this, cloud architects need a mix of business, technical, and people skills, as well as an understanding of the always-evolving, technical training that may benefit their team.

At Amazon Web Services (AWS), I lead a team of cloud solutions architects in Southeast Asia. We are constantly on the lookout for individuals with a builder’s mentality and a desire to build, invent, and innovate on behalf of their customers. This is especially important as the role of cloud architect has evolved beyond just architecting infrastructure solutions like database and storage to building and innovating reliable solutions that involve emerging technologies such as machine learning.

What skills are most important for a cloud architect?

Flexibility and Eagerness to Learn

A cloud architect must work in a wide variety of scenarios and be open to learning each project’s unique requirements. No two projects or customers are the same, so continuously learning and willingness to experiment can help both at the beginning. Seasoned cloud architects provide the best guidance to their organization. With a curious mind-set, cloud architects can be better equipped to seek new approaches to problem-solving.

Time Management

Cloud architecture professionals must possess strong time management skills. Their days are varied and can include customer meetings to discuss problems and needs and designing architectural frameworks for those needs. There is no typical day: they could be in meetings, traveling to onsite meetings with a customer, writing scripts, working on migrations, keeping up with new features via online training, or troubleshooting. As such, cloud architects are mindful of planning their days, prioritizing their time on tasks, and understanding how to maximize small pockets of time.

Communication Skills and Business Acumen

There are many stakeholders and participants along the cloud journey, from those who pay the bill to the security team, the technical team, and those helping to make decisions about cloud vendors. Cloud architects are encouraged to ask for a seat at the decision-making table and be prepared to communicate their design to any stakeholder. Successful cloud architects know how to communicate with audiences with little or no technical knowledge while aligning their recommendations to business imperatives and the bottom-line.


The cloud architect will often be the person stakeholders turn to for guidance on problems they are facing. The ability to provide a firm, clear perspective with confidence offers reassurance that the business is in good hands and that the cloud solutions you’ve recommended are secure, resilient, cost-efficient, and managed with operational excellence. Decisiveness does not necessarily mean dominant or overriding. Cloud architects can provide guidance from a calm, leading place of domain authority.

Industry Technical Credentials

A cloud architect must also possess the necessary technical skills to serve as the foundation for cloud architecture planning and management, including basic programming, software development and continuous integration, database, networking and security skills, modern application architecture skills, and more.

Additionally, cloud architects can attain an industry-recognized certification, such as the new AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certification, which validates the ability to design and deploy well-architected solutions on AWS that meet customer requirements.

Over the last few years, I have seen cloud computing evolve from a relatively unknown technology to a leading driver of business results. While the technology has grown and changed significantly, most skills needed to succeed in its use have remained largely constant. By committing to understanding how to use the cloud to its full potential — and empowering the professionals who make that possible — we can make the most of the tremendous opportunity cloud creates for businesses and employees to thrive.  

Paul Chen, the head of solutions architect for Amazon Web Services ASEAN, wrote this article. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/metamorworks