Enterprises around the world are turning to cloud on a large scale. The choice of hosting their workloads on cloud rather than investing in their own infrastructure is picking up.
The 2020 IDG Cloud Computing Survey noted that at least 92% of enterprises are ‘somewhat’ on the cloud, while the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report stated that 90% of enterprises expect cloud usage to exceed prior plans due to the global pandemic.
Factors that propel global cloud adoption are:
- Reduced capital costs
- Enhanced cost effectiveness
- Scalability & flexibility
- Optimal resource utilization
- Compliance and operational support
To gain maximum value from cloud, it was important to build a structure that enabled planting the right people in the right place.
With this blog, let us take a closer look at modern cloud team structures, identify the key roles involved and the duties and responsibilities associated with each role.
Cloud team structure
There is no standard construct or a universally defined cloud team structure yet, meaning no single competency, responsibility or task is set as a definitive with regards to cloud teams. An actively engaged business can accommodate multiple cloud teams but the objectives of such teams will remain consistent across different organisations. The tasks assigned to cloud teams would typically involve:
- Moving current workloads from a local data centre on to cloud
- Building new cloud-based applications
- Revamping existing applications to run on cloud
- Storing and securing enterprise data in the cloud
- Devising workloads for high availability
- Defining guidelines and strategies to design and protect cloud apps and data
- Optimizing cloud costs and utilization
Consider a scenario where a new cloud-centric application is being developed. Developers, architects and engineers with cloud know-how would need to collate the required infrastructure for that application whereas business leaders as well as compliance & security teams would set guidelines to configure and protect the entailed cloud resources. The key is to match the skills, abilities and the perspective with typical needs of the project.
Common roles of a cloud computing team
Some key roles and responsibilities that are commonly present in a cloud team structure –
Cloud Solution Architect
Considered one of the most in-demand roles in the cloud market, a cloud solution architect works with the business and technical teams to oversee the design architecture and establish the right infra and services that are aligned to an organization’s objectives. This position is primarily technical in nature but because it requires understanding of business needs and converting these needs to architectural designs to build apt solutions, it becomes a highly people-oriented role. A solution architect also needs to understand AWS, Azure, and Google cloud environments as to how they are configured, and the nuances of each of their offerings.
Cloud architects help design efficient and reliable infrastructure on cloud that enable applications to achieve high availability. A design focus requires architects to have a deep understanding of cloud technologies and stay up to date on cloud developments.
Cloud engineers key responsibilities involve cloud implementation, monitoring, and maintenance. They build and operate cloud infrastructures designed by architects. This requires engineers to have a detailed knowledge of how cloud works and be able to set up and configure resources, including servers, storage, networks, and a variety of cloud services with a significant degree of automation involvement as well.
A project may engage multiple engineers on various aspects of cloud operations, such as network, computation, databases, security, to name a few. Engineers look after the first line of support and maintenance after the cloud infrastructure has been set up. For instance, cloud engineers are solicited to investigate discrepancies in metrics reports, if any and they also often handle project documentation and reporting.
Cloud Data Engineer
Data engineer organises, manages, supervises and keeps track of all the cloud-based data distribution, storage, and retrieval processes. He collaborates with business users to ascertain their data needs, develops techniques for data mining from raw inputs and makes subsequent data set modelling possible.
Data engineers design, develop, and maintain statistical and machine learning models in addition to supporting the management of data infrastructure, including databases, data warehouses, and data lakes.
Cloud DevOps Engineer
The Cloud DevOps Engineer is responsible of creating, deploying, and maintaining the infrastructure on which cloud applications run. This position is closely associated with automation activities, as continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment are at the centre of most tasks. Consequently, this role projects –
- Building software delivery pipelines using source control and CI/CD tools, and then deploying services on appropriate infrastructure
- Constructs solutions for cloud developers to ease their work
- Monitors the effectiveness of implemented solutions
All of the above use cases call for a group of skilled cloud engineers who can take care of planning, developing, testing, refining, and scaling applications that are to be deployed on cloud.
To develop a scalable and comprehensive product, developers specialise in cloud projects that help them get familiar with cloud resources, services, architectures, and service-level agreements. Multiple software development teams may be involved in a cloud project, with each team concentrating on a different area of the project, such as the user interface, network code, or back-end integration, etc.
Cloud Operation Engineer
This role revolves around managing, automating, securing, monitoring, and troubleshooting cloud infrastructure.
The difference between operations and DevOps Engineer is that the cloud operations engineer has less to do with deployment and more to do with support. Their primary work is to ensure the availability and performance of our cloud infrastructure and systems through:
- Management of incidents and problems
In addition to assisting cloud customers with deployment and onboarding, the cloud operations engineer also manages resources and oversees data security in the cloud environment.
Cloud Compliance Engineer
Business data is safeguarded against loss, theft, and misuse by policies and procedures that control access to and use of the information. Cloud service providers are addressing important compliance regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. Compliance professionals are familiar with, keep track of, and engage with legal authorities on cloud compliance certifications. To adapt to changing requirements, we also develop, implement, evaluate, and update processes.
Compliance may be handled by existing company compliance officers, project managers, or security experts in some businesses. Compliance experts collaborate closely with security teams since security and compliance go hand in hand.
Cloud Security Engineer
While cloud service providers oversee cloud security, cloud users are in charge of security in the cloud. This idea of shared responsibility was made popular by AWS.
When developing software and infrastructure, a cloud security professional may supervise it to ensure that cloud accounts, resources, services, and applications adhere to security guidelines. Aside from reviewing activity logs and scanning for vulnerabilities, security experts also conduct incident post-mortems and make security enhancement suggestions.
A FinOps specialist serves as a link between the engineering and finance departments in order to resolve misunderstandings if any and guarantee that all teams are pursuing the same objective.
FinOps experts must focus mainly on being able to make decisions in real-time regarding resource utilization, allocating costs, as well as recognizing abnormalities in cloud consumption, if any to assure cloud cost efficiency. A FinOps professional must be able to optimize cloud spends without slowing down innovation. Most importantly, unreasonable cloud cost reduction will lead to unfavorable impacts and therefore the role demands good project management abilities and flexibility to devise an economically balanced solution on cloud.
As more enterprises migrate their on-premises hardware and infrastructure on to cloud, the demand for an all cloud-based skill-set increases. Managing the complete cloud lifecycle, from designing the architecture, developing applications, enhancing security protocols, allocating resources, to maintaining overall cloud components is demanding. To cater to such high intensity needs, would involve engaging maximized people centric roles to significantly impact the modernized cloud computing age.