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What does a cloud engineer do and how to become one ?

Cloud computing is one of the leading trends in the IT industry today. Cloud-based solutions offer convenience at an affordable price, proving to be a boon for enterprise management across the globe. So, it is no surprise that tech professionals are focusing on their cloud engineer skills now more than ever. 

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Premier technology company IBM defines cloud computing as a service delivered over the internet. Cloud engineers come into the picture as organizations move their processes and applications to public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructures. They are responsible for assessing existing frameworks and further migrating different business functions to cloud-based systems. 

What is a Cloud Engineer?

A cloud engineer is an IT professional responsible for any technological duties associated with cloud computing, including design, planning, management, maintenance, and support.

Cloud engineer is a general term encompassing a few different roles, including:

  • cloud architect
  • The cloud software engineer
  • cloud security engineer
  • The cloud systems engineer
  • cloud network engineer

Each position focuses on a specific type of cloud computing, rather than the technology as a whole. Companies that hire cloud engineers are often looking to deploy cloud services, scale up their use of cloud resources or further their cloud understanding and technology.

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Scope of Cloud Computing

Cloud is slowly becoming the business standard of data storage and management. A Gartner survey pointed out that cloud investment is a top priority for more than a third of organizations. And IDC estimates that over a million cloud computing jobs will be created in India by 2022. Some of the top recruiters in the field include: 

  • Amazon
  • IBM
  • Wipro
  • Infosys
  • Oracle
  • Cisco Systems Inc
  • TCS Ltd
  • HCL Technologies 
  • Accenture Technology Solutions
  • Capgemini

Also, cloud architectures have revolutionized the healthcare industry. The technology simplifies operations and improves the administration of medical facilities by synchronizing medical records.

A variety of job opportunities and roles are available in management, user support, development, and analysis. Cybersecurity is another prominent area. Amid rising concerns about the lack of integrity and safety of cloud servers, the need for security-enhanced cloud environments has gone up.

What does a cloud engineer do?

Cloud engineers can serve a variety of functions within an organization. In a broad sense, cloud engineers are responsible for managing an organization’s cloud-based systems and processes. The specific tasks that this encompasses can include:

  • Setting up architectures using cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or others
  • Migrating existing infrastructures to cloud-based systems
  • Managing security and access of cloud-based systems
  • Ongoing operational administration, maintenance, and troubleshooting 

With the rapid growth of the field and promising job outlook, it is not uncommon for professionals in traditional IT roles to narrow their focus and transition to a career in cloud computing.

Cloud Engineering Salary and Job Outlook

As business needs change, more and more companies are moving their operations on to the cloud, bringing strategic organizational benefits and driving growth for the top cloud computing careers. 

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“There are real, significant economic benefits for companies of a broad range of sizes and scales to move on to the cloud,” says Tony Mullen, Ph.D., associate teaching professor in Northeastern’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences. “It’s an interesting place where economics overlaps computer science because there’s really no reason to do it except for the potential economic benefits, which can be enormous.”

As companies continue to take advantage of these benefits, they will need skilled cloud engineers. Due to the demand for skilled professionals with cloud computing skills, those entering the field can expect generous compensation. According to the Robert Half Technology 2020 Salary Guide, cloud engineers typically earn between $94,750 and $159,000 per year depending on factors like industry, geographic location, and the number of years in the field.

Must-have skills for a cloud engineer

Cloud engineers in all roles must have proficiency in the following areas:

  • Linux. Cloud engineers should have a strong understanding of the Linux operating system, which companies frequently use for cloud development. Cloud engineers should understand the architecture, maintenance and administration of Linux servers.
  • Database skills. Cloud engineers should have cloud database management skills and knowledge of MySQL and Hadoop.
  • Programming. Cloud engineers should have strong general programming skills, along with knowledge of programming languages such as SQL, Java, Python, Ruby, Golang, PHP and .NET.
  • Networking. Cloud engineers should understand virtual networks and general network management functions.
  • DevOps. DevOps is a popular framework for cloud engineering, so having a hands-on understanding of DevOps practices can be valuable to employers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) DevOps in particular is a sought-after skill by cloud providers.
  • Containerization. Cloud engineers should have proficiency of containerization tools and understand Docker and Kubernetes.
  • Virtualization. Cloud engineers should have the knowledge to deploy and run application software on virtual machines.
  • Understanding of cloud providers. As technical cloud features and engineering practices can vary between different service providers, understanding what each offers can enhance a cloud engineer’s knowledge and make them more marketable to employers.
  • Security and recovery. Cloud security is a growing priority among providers and knowledge of cybersecurity in the context of the cloud is a valuable asset.
  • Web services and application programming interfaces (APIs). Cloud engineers should have knowledge of open standards, such as XML (Extensible Markup Language), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), and an understanding of how APIs are engineered.

How do you become a cloud engineer?

Competitive candidates for cloud engineer positions generally have the following education, certifications, and experience:

Education. A cloud engineer should have at least a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, engineering, or another related field that provides similar skills. Some companies prefer a Master of Science degree.

Certifications. Some companies prefer additional certifications along with education and experience to demonstrate technical knowledge in one or more areas. Popular certifications include:

  • vendor-specific certifications for major providers, such as AWS and Microsoft; and
  • certifications for skill sets, such as cloud security.

There are many relevant certifications available due to the demand for cloud engineer skills.

Experience. Most employers seek cloud engineers with at least three to five years of experience with cloud services — including open source technology, software development, system engineering, scripting languages, and multiple cloud provider environments. Additionally, cloud engineers must have a background in building or designing web services in the cloud.

Cloud engineers need experience working with programming languages, including Java, Python, and Ruby. Many companies seek cloud engineers who have experience with OpenStack, Linux, AWS, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Docker. Experience with APIs, orchestration, automation, DevOps, and databases, including NoSQL, is also important.

Types of cloud engineering roles and responsibilities

The title of cloud engineer encompasses a few different cloud-focused engineering roles. As cloud engineering duties require many areas of expertise, each role is specialized:

  • Cloud architects. manage the infrastructure of the cloud. These positions oversee the architecture, configuration and deployment of applications in the cloud.
  • Cloud software developers. build and maintain software features and functions, databases and applications for cloud technologies.
  • Cloud security engineers. build and maintain features to provide security for cloud-based platforms and applications.
  • Cloud administrators. manage software and hardware associated with the use of cloud-based services.
  • Cloud network engineers. manage and support network infrastructures and connections between clients and service providers.
  • Cloud automation engineers. are similar to cloud developers, but this position places an emphasis on automation, orchestration and integration.
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