In the ’90s I used it to filter the jobs I wanted based on how they defined the role of enterprise architect. Many may focus on a specific skill in the platform rather than understanding the more comprehensive solutions that are often the best option.

If they advertise an Architect but focus on a particular platform (eg Unix, Windows or mainframe) as their primary qualification, then you know they are not looking for an Architect but a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Thus, many bore the title of “architect” but were not.

Moreover, they cost the company a lot of money in missed opportunities. Architects are tasked with finding solutions. However, if they don’t focus on the greater possibilities and all the technologies, they will often miss out on those very opportunities.

We are now looking for cloud architects and the same problem is back. There is usually confusion around certificates, which means “(insert name of large cloud provider here) architect.” These certifications take about 20 hours of online training.

Don’t get me wrong, you need small and medium businesses that can focus on a particular cloud. But you also need someone to think about the bigger picture and consider all of the cloud technologies. I suspect an architect who is certified by a particular cloud provider will only see that provider as the right solution for storage, database, computation, AI, etc.

I have always said that cloud engineers need to be familiar with all technical solutions and not just cloud-based ones. They need a mix of traditional enterprise systems, networking, security, governance, and now cloud-based solutions. They need to understand how all the pieces fit together in an optimized way that works for the business.

I often come across cloud architects who don’t look to their screens to find better and more optimized solutions. They only focus on options from one cloud provider, because that’s all they really know.

The problem comes from the concept of generalization versus specialization. We know it’s easy to enroll someone in a cloud engineering course that focuses on a single cloud service provider, but where do you find architects with more comprehensive skills?

Unfortunately, no course can get you there in 20 hours. These skills build on more experience, as you have done many projects that used many different types of technology – cloud and non-cloud. The person you want should be a continuous learner, dealing with details and inside information about the specific platforms, features and functionality of the tools. The right person will always understand that this learning will never stop.

Only then can they be sure that the architecture solutions they choose will likely be the right solutions for the business, regardless of the technology or public cloud provider that is leveraged. Simple enough.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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