5 Top Skills for Cloud Computing

You can't master all skills for cloud computing, but there are a select few that will make a big difference in today's job market.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology analyst

October 13, 2021

5 Min Read
5 Top Skills for Cloud Computing
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In an era when most businesses use the cloud in one shape or form, cloud computing skills are a pretty essential part of any resume for a job in software development or IT. But, unless you specialize in cloud computing specifically, it’s unrealistic to expect to master every type of cloud computing skill out there. You need to be strategic about the ones you choose to learn. With that challenge in mind, this article walks through five top skills for cloud computing that IT pros of all stripes should acquire to succeed in today’s job market.

1. Infrastructure-as-Code

One of the most basic and essential skills for cloud computing that you’ll need for a variety of jobs is an understanding of infrastructure-as-code, or IaC.

IaC is the use of configuration files to provision and manage IT resources in an automated way. Although you can use IaC in any type of environment, including on-premises, it’s a prerequisite for most cloud environments due to their large size. Without IaC, it’s difficult to provision the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of servers you’ll need to manage in a typical cloud environment.

There are a variety of IaC tools out there, but they all work in basically the same way: Engineers write configuration files that define how a resource should be configured, and the IaC tool applies the configuration automatically.

Since some IaC tools are tied only to specific environments (like AWS CloudFormation, which only works in the AWS Cloud), you may be able to get the most mileage from IaC skills by teaching yourself an environment-agnostic IaC tool, like Terraform.

2. Policy-as-Code

While IaC is a basic cloud computing skill, you can demonstrate an extra level of sophistication by learning policy-as-code.

Policy-as-code is the use of configuration files to manage any type of policy within a software environment. Policies could be things like access control rules, security settings or network configurations.

Thus, policy-as-code is quite similar to IaC--some would even say that the former is an extension of the latter--but Policy-as-Code lets you manage a broader selection of resources using an automated, code-based approach. Employers will appreciate that skill, especially at a time when the IT industry is increasingly shifting toward an everything-as-code model.

3. Cloud Auditing

Performing IT audits--meaning reviews of IT resources to ensure that they are properly designed and configured--is a common task for IT pros in any type of setting. When you perform auditing in the cloud, however, you may run into some special challenges. One is that there aren’t a lot of tools that can automate all aspects of cloud auditing. Some cloud vendors offer auditing services, like AWS Audit Manager, but they work only within a given cloud. If you need to audit multiple clouds, they aren’t especially helpful.

It can also be difficult to automate auditing across multiple cloud accounts because most auditing tools can audit environments only on an account-by-account basis.
And then, of course, there is the challenge of simply ensuring that you understand which configurations inside a cloud environment should trigger an audit policy violation. Auditing tools may provide preconfigured rules designed to enforce the requirements of common compliance frameworks, like GDPR and PCI DSS, but you’ll generally have to write your own auditing rules if you need to enforce internal governance policies that are unique to your company.

What all of this means is that you can offer extra value to employers by learning to address the unique challenges of cloud auditing, especially if you want to work in a role that will be tasked with audits or governance enforcement.

4. Kubernetes

Deploying containerized applications via Kubernetes is only one way to run apps in the cloud, but it’s an increasingly popular one. And,while I may have been inclined five years ago to think that Kubernetes was just a fad whose popularity would wane over time, I have a hard time taking that position today.

That’s why learning Kubernetes--what it is, how it works, which distributions are available and whether to use a managed Kubernetes service--is a worthwhile investment of time.

You need not become a Kubernetes guru unless deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters will be a core part of your job description. But being able to say you understand Kubernetes, are comfortable with kubectl and can explain the key differences between, say, Rancher and GKE will help you stand out in a good way.

5. Hybrid Cloud

Last but not least is hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud isn’t a specific cloud computing skill as much as it is an architectural style, but it’s nonetheless something you should understand if you want to work in IT today.

After all, 87% of organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy, which means you may well be expected to work with resources that span an on-prem and cloud-based environment.

So, spend some time learning about the major hybrid cloud platforms, like AWS Outposts, Azure Arc and Google Anthos. Learn as well the pros and cons of hybrid architectures so that you can offer informed insight about when it does and doesn’t make sense to use a hybrid cloud.

Conclusion: Skills for Cloud Computing that Lead to Job Success

Your mileage may always vary, of course. The skills for cloud computing described above will not necessarily top the list of in-demand categories of expertise for every IT job out there. But they’re a good starting point for people who want to bolster their resumes in today’s cloud-centric world.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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