Don't mistake cloud architects for enterprise architects

With enterprises on the hunt for cloud architects, here's how you know who qualifies

It's almost a daily occurrence for me to be contacted by headhunters who are seeking out "cloud architects." Usually they're searching on behalf of larger technology and cloud computing providers, but more Global 2000 businesses are now looking for cloud computing experts to add to their staff.

Those who are good architects and good with technology won't have many issues transitioning to "cloud architect," as they will have the necessary foundation to become someone who can configure public and private cloud computing technology to form business solutions. However, this does not necessarily mean that your existing enterprise architect can be your cloud architect.

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I'm not talking about those people who actually design clouds, meaning those who create multitenancy approaches, use-based account subsystems, and the like, or those who you might find walking the halls of,, or Rackspace. The cloud architect who works for an enterprise and the person who designs actual cloud technology have two very different skill sets. I think many people are confused about that.

For the enterprise cloud architect, what is the difference between that role and the traditional enterprise architect? A few details, which are best expressed with this formula: Cloud architect = enterprise architect + SOA architect + cloud technologist.

To be a cloud architect, you must understand the basics of enterprise architecture, including how to configure IT assets around the needs of the business, but you must also have an expert understanding of SOA.

SOA is required because most clouds are accessed using services; thus, the models and approaches that are part of SOA are extremely handy when dealing with cloud computing. I would even say they're a requirement.

Finally, the cloud architect needs to be an expert in the existing cloud computing technology: public, private, and hybrid, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. You can't build something unless you understand the tools and raw materials that are available, and the same goes for bringing cloud computing technology into the enterprise to form solutions.

Hopefully this clears a few things up for those who are looking to hire cloud architects -- or looking to be one.

This article, "Don't mistake cloud architects for enterprise architects," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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