What is the cloud?

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Posting date: 22 February 2024

What is the Cloud? 

The cloud and it’s offering is vast, with its main aim to give organisations the ability to deliver resources and services publicly, privately or in an hybrid environment. 

Whether it’s hosting your data, sharing resources internally with different teams, or streaming your favourite series, these clouds are maintained by a variety of technical professionals. Cloud professionals have developed their skillset over many years working in infrastructure and development, demonstrating highly technical skills and certifications.

With 70% of digital leaders reporting Cloud generated the most ROI over the last 3 years, due to the ability it gives them to be more agile and responsive- more organisations are recognising the efficiencies cloud can offer, the demand for this specialised skillset will only increase. 

What is a public, private or hybrid cloud? 

Public Cloud – This can be services or resources that can be accessed by anyone in the public domain and across the internet. You use many public clouds every single day, think - Netflix, Google Mail, Amazon. In the cloud world, these public clouds are usually referred to as Cloud Service Providers, like Amazon Web Services(AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform(GCP). 

Private Cloud – You might already be using a private cloud in your daily work routine without even realising it. A private cloud is an environment dedicated solely to one organisation. It can be hosted either on-premises or in a data centre, it is accessible exclusively within the organisation.  

Unlike public clouds that are available to the general public across the internet, a private cloud gives organisations greater control and security, as well as retaining full authority over the resources and infrastructure. Examples of private cloud solutions include: Microsoft Azure Stack, VMWare vSphere, OpenStack. 

Hybrid Cloud – Hybrid is as it sounds – a mix of them both, but it would be easier to imagine that these clouds are like different personal storage solutions. You keep some of the services that are easy to access in the storage space you rent from a storage space company (public cloud) because of convenience, ease of access, available to a range of users. 

For your most sensitive data/resources, you will have these in your own storage space that you own like a safe in your wardrobe (private cloud) because it’s dedicated to you and safe, as a result, you will have more security and control over these resources. 

Types of jobs in cloud computing  

The most common roles within this space include:
●       Cloud Engineers 
●       Site Reliability Engineers 
●       Cloud Architects 
●       Platform Engineers 
●       DevOps Engineers 
●       Infrastructure Engineers 

Cloud key skills and technologies  

Some of the technologies and key skills employers typically look for in cloud professionals: 
●      Experience with Cloud Platforms (Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform)  
●      Experience managing traditional infrastructure (Virtualisation, Servers, Networking, Firewall, Security, Storage, Databases, Identity Access Management) 
●      Configuration management tools (Ansible, Chef, Puppet, PowerShell) 
●      Containerisation tools (Docker, Kubernetes, AWS ECS, Google Kubernetes Engine) 
●      Container Orchestration tools (Rancher, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes) 
●      Source control management tools (Git, GitHub) 
●      Deployment tools (Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Ansible, CodeDeploy, Helm) 
●      Infrastructure as code (Terraform, Kubernetes, CloudFormation) 
●      Continuous improvement/Continuous Deployment tools (Jenkins, Argo, GitLab, Harness) 
●      Programming languages (Python, Bash, PowerShell, YAML, Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Golang etc.) 

Cloud salary ranges  

Salaries within Cloud roles have fluctuated, while there has been considerable growth in professionals in this space over the last few years, there is still a shortage compared to the demand for top talent. 

The increase in cloud professionals was mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic giving individuals the ability to work fully-remote for organisations in higher-paying regions of the UK and internationally. However, as more businesses look to implement and take advantage of the cloud we expect a growing demand for individuals in this space, which will inevitably influence salaries.  

For the roles below, the ranges provided are from junior to senior level – when looking into ‘head of’ roles and management roles, the salaries tends to vary between £95k-£135k depending on scale and industry. 

●      Cloud Engineer: £50k - £85k 
●      Site Reliability Engineer: £60k - £90k 
●      Cloud Architect: £65k - £115k 
●      Platform Engineer: £50k - £100k 
●      DevOps Engineer: £65k - £100k 
●      Infrastructure Engineer: £40k - £80k 

Please bear in mind salaries vary considerably based on experience level and your location, we recommend speaking to one of our Cloud consultants for the latest salary information.  

Reach out to one of the team here. 

Work environment  

Working from home/hybrid models are very important within this specialism, these roles were usually remote and hybrid pre-pandemic and although we have seen a shift to more hybrid functions. The senior architects/engineers are more likely to want a fully remote role.

This is due to the nature of the role requiring little collaboration that can otherwise be done through video call solutions, long working hours and very focused tasks. Many candidates we have spoken to see little need to be in an environment with others especially if the commute is long.

There are of course exceptions, including infrastructure engineers which need to deal with physical equipment and some candidates who enjoy the more social aspects of working in an office, but most are committed to working fully remote and expect this.  

Clients need to be aware that exceptional talent are acclimated to working in remote environments and need to consider this within hiring requirements, from my experience the best compromise is once a month or fortnight for some senior cloud professionals.  

As working practices cloud professionals typically work within Scrum/Agile environments, with Cloud Architects getting involved earlier in the process to shape the project and avoid tricky hurdles in the later stages of the implementation. 

This is becoming an increasingly diverse field of work, with a lot of organisations pushing for more representation in the space from underrepresented groups, though this is still an area that has some way to go.

We are already seeing a more diverse pool of candidates coming through at entry level but may need to be addressed for more senior roles. There is a fantastic group for Women in Cloud to help promote gender equity within this space. Here is a link to their website: https://womenincloud.com/ 

Benefits  

Most benefits offered are as standard, other benefits within this industry include: 
●      Discretionary performance based bonus (10-20%) 
●      Pension contribution (matched/non-contributory) 
●      Uncapped annual leave (Purchase/sell additional days/growing trend in big tech for unlimited holidays for senior staff) 
●      Share save/Equity 
●      Personal development/training/certifications/courses 
●      Gym membership 
●      EV Car Scheme 

Career Progression in Cloud roles  

There are multiple opportunities for career progression within the cloud discipline and really depends on what aspect you’re most interested in. A typical progression from an infrastructure route could look like this: 
●       1st/2nd Line support 
●       3rd Line support 
●       Infrastructure Engineer/specialist 
●       Junior Cloud Engineer/Cloud Engineer 
●       Senior Cloud Engineer 
●       Lead Cloud Engineer/Cloud Manager 
●       Head of Cloud 

While this is a very barebones and a typical scenario, as mentioned before there are many ways into the cloud and this is what the typical journey to the stratosphere of cloud could look like. To discuss more career progression and routes into Cloud please reach out to one of the team. 

Diagram showing Career paths to cloud architect
Summary  

Overall, the demand for talent in the cloud market, far exceeds the available supply, particularly at a senior level. Given the intricate nature of cloud technologies, and the vast array of disciplines involved, organisations will need to continually adapt to the evolving cloud landscape to maintain efficiency and competitive advantage.  

Organisations will need to consider and review the expectations of candidates in this discipline, to retain and attract the talent they need to be able to implement their strategic ambitions within this business area.  

We’re experiencing a surge in organisations looking for expertise within this space, exploring salary, working from home policies as well as benefit packages to ensure exceptional cloud talent are attracted and retained. 

Author 

Kyle Gauntlett is the Cloud Specialist consultant based in Harvey Nash Leeds office covering both contract and permanent roles. With an IT background in system administration and support for nearly a decade, Kyle sources leading cloud professionals of all levels. He manages vacancies across the North working with both public and private sector clients.  

If you’d like to speak further about the cloud and current roles please get in touch here.  

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