Good cloud architects are generalists not specialists

In the 90s I use to filter out jobs I wanted based on how they defined the role of enterprise architect. Many would focus on a specific platform skill rather than an understanding of more holistic solutions that were often the better choice.

If they advertised for an architect but focused on a certain platform (e.g., Unix, Windows, or mainframes) as the core qualification, then I knew that they were not looking for an architect but a platform-specific subject matter expert (SME). Thus, many held the title “architect” but typically were not.

Moreover, they cost the enterprise a lot of money in missed opportunities. Architects are tasked with finding solutions. However, if they are not focused on the larger possibilities and all technologies, they often miss those very opportunities.

Now we’re looking for cloud architects and the same problem is back. Typically, the confusion exists around certifications, meaning “(insert name of large cloud provider here) Architect.” These certifications take about 20 hours in online training.

Don’t get me wrong, you need SMEs who can focus on a specific cloud. But you also need somebody to think about the larger picture and consider all cloud technologies. I suspect that an architect who is certified by a specific cloud provider will only see that provider as the correct solution for storage, databases, compute, artificial intelligence, etc. 

I’ve always said that cloud architects need to be aware of all technology solutions not just cloud-based ones. They need a mix of traditional enterprise systems, networking, security, governance, and now cloud-based solutions. They need to understand how all the pieces fit together in an optimized way that’s best for the business.

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