Building and Maintaining: What Does a Cloud Engineer Do?
What Does a Cloud Engineer Do

Building and Maintaining: What Does a Cloud Engineer Do?

Cloud computing has revolutionized how organizations store, access, and manage data. As more companies adopt cloud-based solutions, cloud engineers have become indispensable in designing, building, and maintaining cloud infrastructure. So what does a cloud engineer do exactly? This comprehensive guide explores the roles, responsibilities, skills, career outlook, and steps to becoming a successful cloud engineer.

Defining Cloud Computing and Cloud Engineering

Before diving into the cloud engineer role, let’s define cloud computingCloud computing refers to storing, accessing, and processing data, applications, and services over the internet rather than a local server or computer. Some prominent benefits include:

  • Flexible cloud services for storage, networking, databases, analytics, etc.
  • Pay-as-you-go cloud platform instead of large capital investments
  • Improved collaboration through anywhere access to cloud applications
  • Enhanced security, scalability, and reliability

cloud engineer is an IT professional responsible for designing, implementing, managing, and maintaining cloud infrastructure, services, and solutions that power modern businesses.

Cloud engineers work closely with stakeholders to understand requirements and migrate resources to optimal cloud platforms. They architect complex distributed systems, automate provisioning and management of cloud resources, optimize performance and costs, ensure robustness and resiliency, and oversee multi-cloud deployments.

With experience in cloud technologies and methodologies like containers, DevOps, and infrastructure-as-code (IaC), cloud engineers enable organizations to fully realize the promise of cloud computing.

Key Responsibilities of a Cloud Engineer

Key Responsibilities of a Cloud Engineer

Cloud engineers handle a wide array of critical responsibilities spanning cloud design, implementation, and upkeep.

Cloud Solution Architecture

Cloud engineers start by understanding organizational needs and defining appropriate cloud architectures and processes. This involves:

  • Evaluating requirements, constraints, and use cases
  • Selecting suitable cloud services and deployment models (private, public, hybrid)
  • Designing robust cloud solutions focused on security, scalability, and resiliency
  • Collaborating with stakeholders and senior leadership on plans

They utilize methodologies like SLAs, Asset Management, ITIL, and Cloud Native patterns.

Cloud Infrastructure Deployment

Next, cloud engineers deploy the designed cloud solutions across environments. Key tasks include:

  • Provisioning cloud infrastructure per architecture plans (Cloud infrastructure deploymentCloud service provisioning)
  • Configuring core components like compute, storage, networking
  • Integrating solutions with on-premises infrastructure
  • Developing policies, procedures, configurations for cloud platform (Cloud management)

Automation and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) are heavily leveraged to streamline cloud deployment.

Cloud Application and Service Development

Beyond managing infrastructure, cloud engineers also develop, deploy, and maintain cloud-native applications and services such as:

  • Microservices and Containerized applications
  • Serverless functions (AWS Lambda, Azure functions)
  • API gateways and integrations
  • Database services like cloud-hosted SQL, NoSQL

They follow tested software engineering processes around versioning, CI/CD, observability, security, etc.

Optimization and Ongoing Management

Post-deployment, cloud engineers monitor, troubleshoot, and enhance deployed cloud solutions spanning metrics like:

  • Infrastructure performance monitoring (IPM) for resource usage, bottlenecks
  • Cloud security via tools like firewalls, IAM policies, vulnerability scans, audits
  • Cloud cost management by optimizing resource spend, right-sizing, auto-scaling
  • Cloud compliance and governance against standards like HIPAA, PCI
  • Conducting load testing, failover drills, and disaster recovery testing

This sustains high-quality services that evolve with business needs.

Cloud Migration and Modernization

Finally, cloud engineers undertake cloud migration projects to “lift and shift” on-premises resources to optimal public/private cloud platforms:

  • Assessing existing infrastructure (Cloud assessment)
  • Selecting migration tools and processes
  • Replatforming resources like servers, data, apps (Cloud migration)
  • Re-architecting monoliths into cloud-native microservices
  • Decommissioning outdated data centers/technology (Cloud modernization)
  • Training staff on new solutions

Migrations require meticulous planning and execution.

In summary, cloud engineers straddle the worlds of cutting-edge cloud technologies and business-critical initiatives to drive organizational transformation.

Skills and Qualifications of a Successful Cloud Engineer

Skills and Qualifications of a Successful Cloud Engineer

Cloud engineering is a highly technical discipline requiring specialized expertise across cloud platforms old and new. Let’s explore must-have qualifications:

Core Technical Skills

  • Cloud platforms: In-depth expertise in leading options like AWS, Azure, and GCP
  • Linux/Windows administration: Key OSes underpinning cloud infrastructure
  • Coding: Scripting languages for automation like Python; Java for cloud apps
  • Virtualization: VMware administration to enable IaaS deployments
  • Software-defined networking (SDN): Central to cloud networking
  • Infrastructure automation: Via Terraform, Ansible, Chef, Puppet
  • Containerization: Docker, Kubernetes skills to deploy microservices
  • Monitoring/logging: Prometheus, Grafana, ELK stack, Nagios fundamentals

Mastering these facilitates smooth cloud solution design, deployment, and operation.

Architecture, Engineering, and Administration

Beyond infrastructure skills, cloud engineers should grasp critical concepts like:

  • Application architecture patterns (monolith vs SOA vs microservices)
  • Software engineering fundamentals (CI/CD, testing, OOPS)
  • Cloud deployment models (private, public, hybrid)
  • Cloud design patterns like sharding, caching, horizontal scaling
  • Cloud security tenets around identity, encryption, perimeter defense
  • Cloud resource optimization and cost management
  • Cloud service administration: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS platforms

These manifest in well-architected, automatically administered solutions.

Cloud Engineering Soft Skills

Given heavy user and stakeholder interactions, soft skills also help cloud engineers thrive:

  • Problem-solving: Finding root causes and solutions for cloud issues
  • Communication: Conveying technical concepts to any audience
  • Collaboration: Cooperating with mixed specialist teams
  • Time management: Juggling multiple complex cloud projects
  • Business acumen: Understanding organizational cloud needs
  • Analytical thinking: Data-driven decision making

They separate effective cloud engineers from isolated technologists.


Finally, relevant cloud certifications validate a cloud engineer’s qualifications. Leading options include:

AWS Certifications

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (Foundational)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Design expertise)
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Operational excellence)

Microsoft Azure Certifications

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals (Core knowledge)
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator (Admin capabilities)
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect (Architecture mastery)

Google Cloud Certifications

  • Associate Cloud Engineer (Overall capabilities)
  • Professional Cloud Architect (Mastery of design)
  • Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer (Optimizing cloud deployments)

Certifications demonstrate up-to-date cloud platform skills.

By cultivating these technical, soft, and ancillary skills, cloud engineers sustain ROI of cloud investments at organizations deploying business-critical cloud solutions.

Typical Day-to-Day Activities

Typical Cloud Engineer Day-to-Day Activities

Now that we’ve established key capabilities, what does an average day look like for a cloud engineer?

While every day brings fresh challenges, common activities include:

  • Evaluating cloud architecture designs against requirements
  • Provisioning cloud infrastructure via IaC to enable new deployments
  • Developing Cloud native applications with agile software methodologies
  • Analyzing monitoring to address Infrastructure performance issues
  • Tuning architectures for lower Cloud costs by right-sizing resources
  • Updating network security rules to pass compliance (Cloud compliance) checks
  • Triaging cloud infrastructure issues from user tickets
  • Automating manual cloud management tasks for efficiency
  • Migrating legacy on-premises apps into Cloud-hosted applications
  • Training users on new cloud tools, solutions, and processes
  • Testing disaster recovery (DR) protocols to ensure availability

In short, cloud engineers accelerate cloud adoption while sustainably “keeping the lights on”.

Career Advancement and Salary Prospects

The sky is the limit for advancement as a cloud engineer thanks to exploding cloud adoption. First, cloud focused roles like:

  • Senior Cloud Engineer: Leads complex deployments
  • Principal Cloud Architect: Establishes organizational cloud strategy and standards
  • Cloud Program Manager: Drives large-scale cloud initiatives

Those interested in management can target roles like:

  • Cloud Operations Director: Heads cloud infrastructure teams
  • Chief Cloud Officer/VP of Cloud: Sets cloud direction and investments

Vertically, one can target specialized sub-fields like:

  • Cloud Security Engineer: Focuses on data and infrastructure protection
  • Cloud Network Engineer: Architects core connectivity
  • Cloud Storage Engineer: Crafts resilient, scalable data storage

Cloud engineers can also transition into software engineering, DevOps, and solution architecture roles. The multi-disciplinary nature of cloud computing enables diverse career pivots.

In terms of compensation, cloud engineers earn lucrative salaries driven by high cloud demand. According to Payscale, average salaries are:

Location also affects pay, with metro areas and tech hubs topping averages. All said, few careers match cloud engineering’s stability and advancement potential.

How to Become a Cloud Engineer

How to Become a Cloud Engineer

If you’re exploring the lucrative field of cloud engineering, follow this roadmap:

Earn a Relevant Bachelor’s Degree

A computer science (CS), information technology (IT), or related bachelor’s degree establishes critical foundations in core disciplines like networking, operating systems, and programming languages that enable cloud engineering success.

Develop Proficiency in Key Cloud Platforms

Next, develop expertise in major Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, specifically:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): Industry leader used by over 30% of the cloud market
  • Microsoft Azure: Enterprise favorite thanks to tight integration with Windows environments
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP): Key strengths in machine learning, big data, and analytics

Resources for self-education include official cloud provider training, online courses, certification prep tests, and hands-on sandbox environments. Eventually, one platform should emerge as your specialization.

Get Essential Hands-on Experience

While degrees and certifications open doors, real-world experience is invaluable. If your current role doesn’t involve cloud infrastructure, explore projects like:

  • Setting up a simple cloud server using AWS EC2 or Azure Virtual Machines
  • Building a static website hosted in cloud object storage like AWS S3
  • Using IaC tools like AWS CloudFormation to template basic architectures
  • Deploying containerized sample apps with Docker on cloud container services
  • Automating cloud resource provisioning via Ansible playbooks

Such projects directly showcase relevant Infrastructure automation skills. You can deploy them in free tier accounts.

Earn Respected Cloud Certifications

Cloud certifications serve as industry validation of hands-on abilities. Target mid-level Associate certifications first:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: Proves AWS architecture skills
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate: Demonstrates Azure administration expertise
  • Google Associate Cloud Engineer: Validates GCP cloud engineering knowledge

Once you gain experience, pursue advanced Professional or Specialty certifications to further stand out.

Apply for Junior Cloud Engineering Roles

Armed with fundamental education, demonstrable skills, and certifications, seek entry-level cloud engineer roles like Cloud SysAdmin, Cloud Developer, Automation Engineer, or Cloud Ops Engineer. Position titles vary greatly but focus on infrastructure skills. Be sure to tailor resumes and interviews to underscore cloud abilities over generic IT experience.

Educational Pathways for Cloud Engineering Prospects

Considering a career as a cloud engineer? Jessup University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science presents an in-depth program that fuses theoretical foundations with practical application. With options for both in-person and online learning, our approach is adaptable to various educational preferences, allowing students to excel in their chosen format.

In-person attendees will benefit from 15-week courses, immersive community involvement, and comprehensive resource access. Those opting for the online route can take advantage of shorter, 7-week courses, flexible scheduling, and six annual start dates. This program offers specializations in Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Data Science, Information Technology, and Software Engineering, providing a customized educational journey whether you’re on campus or studying from afar.

Jessup University’s Program Focus Areas and Principal Courses:

Cybersecurity (Online Only):

  • Introduction to Cybersecurity
  • Cybercrime and Governance
  • Contemporary Cybersecurity
  • Network and System Security
  • Cyber Forensics

Data Analytics (Online Only):

  • Foundations of Data Analytics I & II
  • Data Analytics Principles & Techniques I & II
  • Data Analytics Practicum

What is Data Science:

  • Data Science 1 & 2
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Calculus II, Linear Algebra, Intro to Mathematical Proofs

Software Engineering Concentration:

  • Mobile Computing
  • Web Stack Technologies
  • Data Structures & Algorithms 2
  • Database Systems

…and more.

Crucial Skills for Success in Computer Science

What is computer science? It’s the field of study that focuses on computation, information, and automation using computers and computational systems. It’s the backbone and foundation behind software engineering, and can lead you many directions within the tech space.

Prospering in the ever-changing field of computer science is tied to a robust skill set. Jessup University’s program stresses expertise in advanced programming languages, proficiency in modern software development methodologies, and effective technical communication – to bring you the cloud computing skills necessary to conquer this world.

The curriculum deepens understanding of computational challenges, their requirements, and constraints. Additionally, it embeds a Christian ethical outlook towards technology, preparing graduates to be proficient and morally responsible in their field.

Whether participating in on-campus activities or via online modules, students are groomed to deploy their skills in various professional settings, armed with our Computer Science degree.

What’s Next For You?

The world of cloud engineering overflows with potential waiting to be tapped. Your ideas have the power to make real, positive impacts transforming lives. Jessup University is where your passion for technology and cloud computing can evolve into a fulfilling career centered around conceiving what’s next. Contact us today to start your journey and begin shaping the future of cloud!