Cloud computing is now a critical aspect of the technology stack. Hybrid solutions, full migration, and hosted services have become cornerstones of most businesses’ digital infrastructure.

The migration to the cloud has been rapid and has left many businesses with a skills gap they’re now struggling to fill.

Professionals with cloud experience, including computing, security, and architecture are high in demand and a valued commodity.

How do I get started as a Cloud Engineer?

Moving to a cloud-based system from a traditional IT specialty requires a shift in mindset.  The fundamental differences between the two models is the biggest hurdle for tech professionals.  For example, there’s more focus on automating infrastructure in the cloud.  It is a big change from logging into a server and doing everything manually.

To prepare for a move, you should concentrate on these areas.

Cloud platforms

Many of the major platform providers offer free resources to allow IT professionals a chance to practice.  Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are among these.  With many companies starting to explore the use of multi-cloud environments to manage fault tolerance, it would be a good idea to try out more than one.  Knowledge of several platforms is a bonus.

APIs and web services

APIs (application programming interfaces) and web services are key to fundamental cloud architecture.  You’ll need to understand how they integrate with your company’s systems.  As a cloud engineer, you may also be required to build your own APIs or maintain those offered by your firm.  To learn more about creating RESTful APIs you can enroll in several online courses.  These will give you an insight into both sides of the process.

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Software configuration management (SCM)

SCM is critical in a cloud-based environment.  A Cloud Engineer should be familiar with some of the most common SCM tools, including Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.

Agile development

If you aren’t Agile trained, you should become familiar with this methodology.  The Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection and adaptation make Agile an ideal approach to the fluid and fast-moving world of cloud computing

A cloud symbol representing cloud-native computing

Migrating to the cloud. 

There are many traditional IT roles that are morphing into cloud roles.  These are just 3 examples of IT jobs that are migrating to the cloud.

Systems engineer

Systems engineers need in-depth technical knowledge of an employer’s software and hardware, as well as advanced analytical, troubleshooting, and design skills.  As a rule, employers favour candidates with at least five years of experience working with the hardware and software systems used by the company. It is also preferred that the candidate has a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.

The systems engineer role is changing dramatically because the cloud is commoditising IT. For example, many systems administrators now need to learn programming languages like Python in order to interact with a cloud vendor’s APIs.

As a result, many organisations need skilled IT talent that can help solve problems and innovate along their journey.

For a career as a cloud engineer, in-demand skills that can increase your value include cloud-relevant abilities such as virtualization and Linux/Unix administration.

In the UK, the average salary for a Cloud Engineer is £53,500.  Entry-level positions start at £41,800, while the most experienced can expect to earn up to £72,000 per year.

A cloud symbol representing cloud-native computing

Network/cloud engineer

Network engineers must be detail-oriented and have in-depth knowledge of networking hardware and software.  The typical educational requirements of a network engineer are a bachelor’s degree in computer science or electrical engineering, and five or more years of experience in areas such as network design and implementation, security, and server and network infrastructure.

This is an example of a role that is very different in the cloud.  A traditional network engineer needs to know everything about firewalls, switches, routers, and other specific network components. By comparison, cloud networking engineers focus more on network design as most cloud providers offer networking as a service.  Cloud engineers who specialize in networking might also be responsible for auditing the way that rules are applied in a cloud environment.

The average salary in the UK for a Cloud Network Engineer is £52,000.  An entry-level position will earn you £33,750.  At the top end, experienced professionals can take home up to £65,000 per year.

If you are looking to transfer your skills to the cloud environment, and are looking to increase this starting salary, you should look to learn cloud-relevant skills.  Concepts such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) administration will set you on the path toward higher earnings.

Database administrator

Database administrators need a strong technical foundation in database structure, configuration, installation, and practice.  Employers typically require knowledge and experience in major relational database languages and applications, including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM DB2.  Effective database administrators must have keen attention to detail, a strong customer service orientation, and the ability to work as part of a team.

With most cloud services, you don’t need to focus on setting up the database server.  Database backup and recovery may also no longer be relevant to your domain.  A cloud database administrator may still need to do things like set up tablespaces, optimise queries, and evaluate and execute table structure changes.

The UK national average salary for a cloud database administrator here in the UK is £35,000 per annum. Most entry-level salaries also start at £35,000 while those most experienced Cloud DBAs can expect to earn salaries in the region of up to £55,000.

To increase the starting salary, aspiring cloud DBAs should include cloud-relevant abilities in the Hadoop framework and Oracle databases.

Because many companies are taking their first steps into the cloud, they need skilled, innovative, and forward-thinking IT talent to help solve problems as the company progresses.

It is essential for candidates applying for cloud jobs to demonstrate that they’re capable of providing that type of support despite a traditional IT background.

Cloud services will continue expanding and evolving. With this will come new challenges and new opportunities.  Should you want a career in Cloud engineering you will need to combine a willingness to learn with an insatiable desire to problem solve and make things work.

Perhaps we could help. If you are looking for a role in cloud technology, have a browse through our tech roles here.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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