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Five things to know to land a cloud architect job

Demand for cloud architects is growing in the enterprise, but competition for jobs is tough. Here are five questions to help you ace a cloud architect interview.

Cloud computing is becoming a key way for businesses to deploy new applications, which is rapidly changing the...

IT job market. And demand for cloud architects is especially high.                

In fact, roughly 11,100 cloud architect jobs are currently listed on career website Indeed.com, with salaries ranging from $75,000 to more than $150,000 annually. But before landing that dream cloud architect job, you have to wow potential employers during the interview process.

Here are five key questions you can expect an employer to ask during a cloud architect interview, along with advice for how to respond.

1.      How do a cloud architect's responsibilities differ from those of other data center professionals?

A cloud architect focuses more on the meta, or big-picture, view of the data center and less on an individual server's configuration and throughput. For instance, cloud architects examine how an organization's central authentication system ensures that only authorized employees access system resources. By comparison, a system analyst is tasked with tying the authentication system to a specific application, such as Salesforce.com.

2.       Where do you see technology in one year? How about three years?

Rather than get caught up in the daily grind of data center and cloud operations, cloud architects must think ahead. They need to be blue-sky, big-picture thinkers. Cloud architects determine how emerging technologies, like biometrics and the Internet of Things, will impact enterprise systems and cloud infrastructure. They also need to craft a roadmap that shows where the business' systems are today and where they need to be in a few years.

3.       How do containers fit into a company's cloud architecture?

Businesses are constantly trying to make software more portable, and containers are the latest variation on that theme -- which makes them a critical technology for cloud architects to know. First, cloud architects must understand the capabilities containers offer. Containers work at a layer above the OS and virtualization software. Theoretically, they offer more portability, but they pay a price for that easy movement: decreased security. The software running in the containers does not include the inherent security checks found at the OS or virtualization layer. Consequently, running containers within a firm's data center and behind its security perimeter makes sense, while putting the software onto a public cloud is a bit risky. 

4.       What standard interfaces should a company use?

OpenStack has emerged as a key platform, enabling companies to tie different cloud applications together. Businesses primarily use free, open source software as an IaaS platform. OpenStack, which is available under an Apache license, consists of a group of interrelated components that control pools of processing, storage and networking resources.

5.       What cloud architect certifications do you have, or are pursuing?

Cloud architect certification programs come from two different sources. Independent training and certification companies, like Arcitura Education, CompTIA and EXIN, offer vendor-neutral certifications. In addition, the industry's biggest vendors, such as EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft, have cloud architect certifications geared toward their particular products.

Cloud architects are becoming more popular. By knowing answers to key questions, IT pros can position themselves to land a high-paying cloud architect job.

Next Steps

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This was last published in October 2015

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What helped you land a cloud architect job?
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Get your work published - blogs, GitHub, speaking at events. Not only do you need to have the skills/experience, but you need to have a network of people that have also solved similar types of big challenges
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I would add "What public cloud experience do you have?". Without knowing how the public clouds deliver services, trying to build a cloud architecture that will attract developers is nearly impossible. 
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