Cloud computing is transforming the technology industry and emerging as one of the most bankable career options today. The services have made storing, managing, and processing data effortless and more flexible. A cloud engineer is adept at building and maintaining cloud-based systems and technologies. Read on to learn everything on how to become a cloud engineer.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing encompasses hardware, software, and infrastructure that helps in delivering a service over a network, generally the internet. The process entails storing the data on remote servers so that it can be accessed without using your computer’s hard drive. So, a cloud makes it possible for multiple users to use files and applications from a device that can access the internet.
One of the most common examples is Google Drive. It is a personal cloud storage service that enables users to store and synchronize their digital content across different devices like computers, laptops, tablets, and Android-powered smartphones. Apple’s iCloud is another example of cloud computing services.
The software can be ‘Cloud-first’ or ‘On-premise’. While a cloud-based software is hosted on the vendor’s server, the latter is installed locally on a company’s server. Users access the cloud-first service using a web browser, whereas the local application runs only on the company’s own computers.
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A cloud engineer’s work
Cloud engineers perform several functions in modern-day organizations. They are professionals who migrate the functions to a cloud-based system after assessing the business infrastructure. Such tasks include building and maintaining cloud services, for which they leverage their technical skills and business acumen. One of the staple requirements is working knowledge of at least one of the major cloud service providers, such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.
Additionally, cloud engineers collaborate with other functional experts and work to enhance team efficiency. They automate deployment and testing pipelines and also play a significant role in maintaining the cloud systems.
From formulating a migration strategy for new environments to providing support for cloud-hosted applications and services, the work of cloud engineers is wide-ranging. Therefore, cloud computing has cemented its place among the highly lucrative fields in the IT world. As per the 2019 Cloud Adoption Survey by NetEnrich, about 68% of all enterprises are using public cloud infrastructures.
Industry demand for cloud computing
Cloud computing has revolutionized the way companies operate. It has provisioned rapid, on-demand access to a shared pool of resources, including storage, applications and services. Moreover, cloud-based systems considerably reduce IT costs as they require minimal service provider interaction or management effort. They simplify and optimize the process of storage, computation, and retrieval of data.
Apart from the obvious advantage of lending flexibility to operations, cloud computing improves efficiency and scalability of work practices. Application of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) require enormous loads of data and lightning-fast processing times. Without cloud computing, it would be tough to imagine such access on an as-needed basis.
Cloud computing is likely to be in even higher demand in the coming years, owing to these diverse capabilities. A recent study found that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. So, ‘how to become a cloud architect’ would be a legitimate question on the minds of most techies.
Pursuing a career in cloud computing would bring in the big bucks, too. According to Indeed, cloud engineers in the US can earn as high as $118,586 in a year. And Glassdoor estimates an annual salary of Rs 900,000 for their Indian counterparts.
Types of roles
As we discussed earlier, cloud engineers can take up diverse roles in an organization. Some of them include:
- Cloud Developer
- Cloud Architect
- Cloud Systems Engineer
- Cloud Network Engineer
- Cloud Security Engineer
- DevOps Engineer
So, ‘cloud engineer’ is a collective term. You can pick a learning approach and develop your skills based on your desired role. However, the fundamentals of all cloud computing functions are the same. The typical job involves designing and implementing cloud software, supporting the monitoring tools, troubleshooting underlying configuration issues, and providing technical expertise for data interpretation tasks. Cloud engineers bring a systematic approach to standardization, commercialization, and governance of cloud-based applications. In this way, they define solutions that contribute towards a shared architecture.
How to become a cloud engineer
To become a cloud engineer, you should typically have a bachelor’s or B.Tech degree in IT or Computer Science. Also, proficiency in programming languages such as C++, Java, Python, AngularJS, etc. can be beneficial. And expertise in SQL, Hadoop, Scala, Spark, DevOps, and other such platforms can give you an edge. Another requisite is a working knowledge of operating systems like Windows and Linux.
Since modern workplaces have an increased demand for cybersecurity skills, there is vast scope for cloud engineers in the security domain as well. Prior experience in handling monitoring tools and managing tracking systems also comes in handy for cloud computing jobs.
Developing your skills
Before undergoing a full-fledged training in cloud computing, you should consider learning the basics on your own. Brush up your concepts, from the meaning and advantages of cloud computing to service and deployment models. For this, you can take help from free online tutorials and blogs.
Once you have understood what cloud computing is concerned with, move on to other related concepts. Some of them include:
- Networking: IP address, routing, networking layers, protocols, etc.
- Information Security: Basics of encryption, data security, access policies, etc.
- Computer Architecture: fundamentals of system design principles
- Understand database management systems like SQL
- Familiarize yourself with Linux OS etc.
A pro-tip is to prepare a study plan and stick to it. And once you are through, educate yourself about the offerings of major cloud service providers. Having a firm grasp of the foundational knowledge would ease the process of exploring their management consoles. Various portals like those of GCP, AWS, and Azure are available online for free. Compare them and practice as much as you can. Here, it would be best if you also spent some time on load balancing, cloud monitoring, application migration, etc. To gain more proficiency, take a practical approach. By doing this, you can get the hang of many best practices to be followed for deploying an application on the cloud. Complete projects wherein you apply everything that you learned.
Training in cloud computing
A cloud engineer is basically an IT professional who is equipped to tackle the workload of cloud computing. Certain technical skills are required for both entry-level and experienced positions in this field. Therefore, many training courses on how to become a cloud architect have cropped up in recent years. Through structured training, you not only benefit from expert guidance but also learn better with practical demonstrations and hands-on assignments. Such projects prove advantageous for the application of skills on an industry level.
Usually, you have to take an exam at the end of the training period. If you attain the minimum score, you will receive a certification. Such certifications can be immensely useful, especially at a time when AWS is one of the top skills that employers seek for all major tech positions. Being a certified professional would also add credibility to your profile.
In a nutshell, the five-step plan on how to become a cloud engineer would be:
- Understand the basics
- Revise computing fundamentals
- Dig into service providers and practice
- Complete a project
- Prepare for the Certification exam
Before you begin your journey, do not forget to set timelines and learning milestones to be achieved at specific intervals.
In the beginning, it may seem daunting to delve into the new concepts of cloud computing. But the above tips on how to become a cloud engineer will help you get a clearer perspective and stay relevant in the ever-changing world of tech!
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Q1. What does a cloud engineer do?
A cloud engineer is a professional responsible for the development and maintenance of cloud infrastructure. They can also be involved in more specific activities such as designing cloud-based solutions, cloud architecting, writing code for cloud-based applications, and working with networks on the cloud, cloud administration, etc. However, the roles and responsibilities of cloud engineers tend to vary with the organisation they work for. They can also work on projects that deal with helping companies in migrating their IT infrastructure to the cloud, the configuration of cloud components for security and networking services, and monitoring cloud-based services for effective management and data storage.
Q2. Is cloud computing hyped?
The hype surrounding the Cloud is totally justified by its immense popularity. Cloud computing is indeed a major technological advancement that has completely revolutionised how businesses operate. There are myriad advantages that the Cloud has brought to companies. One of the most significant benefits of the Cloud is that it is a more cost-effective solution and offers greater ease of access too. It provides businesses with a distinct strategic edge over competitors. Cloud infrastructure is easier to manage and more flexible, and more secure as well. Moreover, it is highly available, thereby reducing downtimes to almost zero.
Q3. Does cloud storage really have infinite capacity?
One very commonly asked question is whether cloud storage has infinite space or not. This is because the cloud platform is associated with unlimited data storage capacity. So how much is the total capacity of cloud storage? Actually, by the term “unlimited data storage”, what is meant is that users can get access to as much data storage space as they need, but it, of course, comes at a price. But we need to understand here that even if it is seemingly endless, cloud storage does have a maximum capacity, which depends on the cloud service provider. So, theoretically, it can be infinite but not practically feasible.