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Can You Spot A Quality Cloud Engineer?

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on May 21, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

Are you working on an application that’s going to run on AWS? Or, are you working to migrate one or more applications over to the cloud? Do you currently have one – or several – applications running on AWS?

Regardless of what you answered “yes” to, it is clear you are working to expand your AWS footprint, and now, you need to hire software engineers. You know that if you don’t find the right talent, the AWS implementation won’t be the success you are hoping for.

The question you have to answer is – “what do you do?” and “how do you identify the right candidate?” Would just any experienced software engineer be the right option?

The answer to the last question is a resounding “NO!” What you need is a quality, cloud engineer.

What Makes a Quality Cloud Engineer?

The name pretty much sums up the role of a cloud engineer. This is an individual who is a software engineer, who is also knowledgeable about how to use cloud services in an effective manner.

Cloud engineers understand how to build software applications that utilize the cloud infrastructure, in addition to the tools and services available on the cloud. They also know the advantages and disadvantages that cloud services bring to the software they are working on. After they have found a good fit, they know how to make the most of it. The cloud engineer is also good at writing code and designing in a manner that interacts well with various cloud components.

The fact is, any quality cloud engineer is going to know how and when they should use S3 vs. Dynamo DV for a situation at hand. They will also know if or when they should begin to implement a certain service by using AWS Lambda. A quality cloud engineer will also be able to design applications that work properly with Auto Scaling and know the proper way to utilize Identity and Access Management, or IAM, features properly in code and other environments.

The Defining Factors and Qualities of Quality Cloud Engineering

To begin with, a quality cloud engineer is a great software engineer. After all, in the end, software is software. You want to hire someone who has developed strong analytical and problem-solving skills and who understands data structures, programming languages, system design and all the other factors that make a good software engineer, great.

Some of the other qualities to look for in a cloud engineer can be found below:

Someone with a Service-Oriented Mindset

The right person is going to despise inflexible, monolithic and large applications that can’t be scaled. They will develop solutions to find common boundaries and functions within a system and break-down larger systems into easier to manage sub-systems. However, even more importantly, they won’t try to overdo it. They will work to find a balance that doesn’t result in a completely unmanageable number of different services.

Someone with an API-centric Mindset

A quality cloud engineer understands that systems have to interact with one another through APIs or Application Program Interfaces, and they will understand how to implement the API effectively. They are also aware that the APIs have to be consistent in a system and they understand the proper way to use permissions and authentication effectively. These individuals will also know what to do to make an easier life for client applications that are interacting with APIs. With a cloud engineer who really knows what they are doing, they won’t try to reinvent the wheel, and they will understand this isn’t necessary when it comes to creating APIs. Instead, they will use existing frameworks and tools to help make the development of an API easier.

Someone Who is a Pioneer

There’s no question that new cloud products and features are released quickly. As a result, you have to find someone who is comfortable working with various technologies that none of their peers have even attempted to work with. With this attitude, they will be the first to be blocked, experience bugs and also find out what to do to master the issues. An ideal candidate won’t be scared of any of that – they will be excited to dive in and figure out something new.

Someone Who Isn’t Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects

A cloud engineer pioneer is going to have the ability to make good decisions. As soon as they learn about a new AWS feature or product, they will already know what it can be used for, and what to avoid using it for. These individuals are curious but will remain focused on the company and the goals of their customer. To put it simply, these individuals will always use good judgment and utilize new technologies with a clear and understood purpose in mind.

Someone Who Stays Up to Date Regarding What’s Going On in the Cloud Computing Industry

While it can be difficult to remain updated with all the new announcements that are made, that’s just how things are when talking about the cloud. A quality cloud engineer will be interested in these happenings and always have a general idea of what is happening with AWS when they come in for a job interview.

Someone Who Plans to Automate Everything

If you plan to use the cloud, but you don’t automate the processes, then this is a huge waste. Quality cloud engineers will understand this concept and become frustrated by repetitive or manual tasks. They will also have the drive and initiative to automate everything. Each time human intervention is seen, they will also find and implement various ways to eliminate it completely. Additionally, they will understand how to balance the automation efforts with the project work.

Someone Who Will Know (and Actually Care) About Overall Performance

A quality cloud engineer will not believe they can just deploy new software to the cloud and then that AWS will be able to magically scale and also handle millions of different requests each second. To run a fast application with AWS, it has to begin with quality architecture design and the proper software implementation. After that, it is delivered by selecting and configuring the proper AWS components.

If any of the steps highlighted above isn’t designed for superior performance, then customers are going to be frustrated by the slow application. A quality cloud engineer will know all of these factors and will have experience building extremely high performing applications within the AWS cloud.

Someone Who Knows About Availability

Any quality cloud engineer is going to design in a way for failure. You may wonder what this means. This simply means that the engineer you hire is going to ask the important question of “what is going to happen if the component goes down?” This is a question that will be asked for each of the components in the architecture.

This is something that will also be done at each stage in the design and implementation of the component. A quality cloud engineer will know all of the factors that may cause a disruption or outage at any point. At the absolute least, a cloud engineer will put a priority on things such as triggering EBS snapshots, using multiple Availability Zones and more.

Someone Who Cares About Cost

In today’s cloud computing world, software engineers have access to an amazing infrastructure of which the world has never seen before. In the past, they would have to deal with whatever server was currently being used and then just deal with it.

Thanks to modern technology, cloud engineers offer provisions that are larger and more complicated than ever before. They can also leave instances running and not care about selecting the EC2 instance. While this is great for agility purposes, it can be scary in regards to cost management. The choices that are made will add up to more than thousands of dollars each year if they aren’t made with proper judgment.

As a result, a quality engineer will know all the factors that are going to affect the AWS pricing for the services that they are going to be working with. This will help their clients save money and avoid overspending.

Someone Who Cares About the Operations

A quality cloud engineer won’t develop software and then forget about it. They will know that their software will run in proper production one day and perform well, while not costing too much to operate and then quickly recover from any failure scenarios. They also understand that someone will have to deal with the software if an outage occurs – and that it may or may not be them – and as a result, they will document all of the needed details for others to know how to properly operate it.

While there are some organizations that currently have a pretty good handle on DevOps, it is still a good idea to find a cloud engineer who is able to visualize their code past the workstations and who are willing to make it their mission to ensure the software continues to run smoothly while in production. Additionally, they should be fine with being a part of any on-call rotations and being paged in from time to time. The development teams that are the most efficient today are the ones that own their software support.

AWS Cloud Engineers Need to Know AWS

When hiring AWS cloud engineers, you need to, of course, find someone who actually knows AWS. Some key areas and factors that you need to look for include the following:

  • Security/Identity and Access Management: The fact is, IAM is the most important service. However, when it comes to the shared responsibility model of AWS, if you don’t have quality security, nothing else is really going to matter. Find an engineer who understands this.

  • Foundational AWS Services: There are some AWS services that have achieved a mature state and that are now the foundation of the majority of cloud architectures. If a person doesn’t understand these services, then they won’t be beneficial to your team.

  • Monitoring and Automation for AWS: Quality cloud engineers are going to understand how to use the proper tools to ensure AWS automation.

  • The Setup and Configuration of AWS Components: Your team needs to understand how to set things up from scratch, and the cloud engineer should understand the main performance and pricing factors.

Understanding of All Services the AWS Cloud is Capable Of

There are many AWS services. While no one can know each one of them, there is a quality cloud engineer who will know what they do and the problem they can help to solve. This will help them know if a specific AWS service is worth investing more time and energy into it if the need ever comes up.

A Quality Cloud Engineer Will Be Learning Constantly

The last thing to keep in mind is that the cloud engineers you opt to hire need to be in a state of perpetual education. They always need to be willing to learn something new and find out about new developments. Due to how fast the cloud moves, if you don’t find someone who is willing to do this, then your entire organization is going to fall behind. A quality cloud engineer will be interested in always learning and doing something new and different. This is how they remain relevant and invaluable to an organization or business in their given field.

Can You Spot the Right Candidate?

ICS can help you find that perfect candidate with less agitation. We take the extra step to meet with our candidates before sending them over to you. This allows us to screen only the best candidates, giving you more time to focus on the business. Contact us today to find out how we can help you find the right team member.   

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