The Evolving Role of a Cloud Architect

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A good cloud architect owns the entire solution.

Central to a cloud-first approach, managing complexity, and driving value in a digital world

There is growing appreciation for the role of cloud architect as more and more enterprises adopt a cloud-first strategy. Cloud-first has revolutionised the way IT teams are structured, and no other role in the industry has changed and developed as much as that of the cloud architect [1].

Gone are the days when cloud architects talked about just hardware and software. Today, they talk business too. They monetise and shape strategies that pave the way toward digital excellence, drive innovation, and deliver IT solutions. Ultimately, cloud architects connect the boardroom with the IT engine room and are a key asset in achieving digital success.

Organisations embarking on a cloud-first strategy face complexities spanning from deployment models, to technology stacks, to automation workflows. The cloud architect must know how to tame these complexities. They help organisations to balance their existing traditional system landscape with the emerging cloud-native footprint. They also ensure that the move to fully automated and platform-driven architecture is achievable, valuable, and future-proof.

The cloud architect works across the entire cloud solution lifecycle: it moves from shaping and scoping at inception, eliciting design requirements, and selecting the right cloud management platform, to building, testing, and implementing, as well as operational aspects. A good cloud architect owns the entire solution.

As the name suggests, a cloud architect is responsible for making sure a cloud solution is structurally sound and fit for purpose. This involves adequately addressing all the pertinent concerns of its stakeholders. Good cloud architecture satisfactorily reconciles conflicting stakeholder concerns and shows the trade-offs made in doing so. An example of a conflicting concern could be between security performance and cost.

Deciding what particular architecture to develop is one of the key decisions that the enterprise architect has to make. The architect needs to find a balance between practicality and fitness-for-purpose. In other words, the architecture should be developed only to the point at which it is fit-for-purpose, and not reiterated ad infinitum as an academic exercise.

Choosing the right cloud platform is another major responsibility of a cloud architect. Recently, while working with a large financial institution, we helped shape and design the approach used to select the right platform for their objectives. We also ran the selection process to decide how best to use in-house tools, such as OpenStack, as well as other commercially available products such as CliQr, Vmware vRealize, and HP Cloud System Automation.

As businesses seek to transform digitally, one must provide solutions that facilitate the overall transition. For more details on how to successfully tame cloud complexity and see where a cloud architect fits in to your operating model, see our the new Capgemini point of view paper.

[1] The New Role of the Architect – Central to growing your business in today’s digital world, March 2016, Capgemini 

[2] Taming cloud complexity with a cloud management platform

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