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Cloud computing

Cloud computing

Introduction

Traditionally, users would store their software and data on their own PCs, devices and media drives, but this model is rapidly changing as users are increasingly accessing software and storing their data on ‘The Cloud’, i.e. the internet. For example, anytime you use any of Google’s apps (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets etc), you’re engaging in cloud computing, as all of the data involved is stored on Google’s cloud. Similarly, when you upload your photos to Facebook or Instagram, you’re essentially sending them to the cloud. A new generation of laptops, like Google’s Chromebook, are designed purely to interact with the cloud. The main benefit of cloud computing is that users can access their data from anywhere they can access the internet. It also removes the worry of losing all your software and data should your PC or device break down. The need to install software on your own system is also eliminated, with online-only versions of popular apps like Microsoft Office accessible through a web browser. In the business world, companies are increasingly turning to the cloud rather than local network storage. There are three main services implemented by businesses in their use of the cloud. ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) sees businesses subscribe to applications accessed over the internet. ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) allows businesses to create their own custom cloud-based software, which can then be accessed by all their employees. ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ (IaaS) is where large scale providers like Google and Amazon rent out their infrastructure for use by other companies.

Career opportunities

As cloud computing grows in popularity among businesses, new career opportunities for those with the necessary skills continue to emerge. Positions available in the field of cloud computing cover a very broad range, from developers and architects to security professionals and data scientists. Given its constantly evolving nature, working with cloud technology requires a continuous updating of your education. Vendor-specific training and certifications are offered by the majority of cloud providers but acquiring vendor-neutral certifications will help you stand out from other applicants and make you more employable. As cloud computing is still developing, many current positions are with companies still in the process of defining their relationship with the cloud, whether accessing SaaS, PaaS or IaaS services, or building their own cloud from scratch.

What skills do you need?

Cloud architects require specific knowledge of cloud computing technology and providers, and they must possess the ability to mould clouds to fit the needs of a business. Candidates for such roles should have enterprise architecture and/or service-oriented architecture experience, along with a base knowledge of cloud computing technology. Despite all its benefits, there are still concerns regarding the safety of cloud computing. As a result, it has become the key area for those seeking a career in IT security. Businesses are now seeking professionals who can help them manage and lower the risks involved in moving to the cloud. Security audit services are in high demand, and applicants for such positions should hone their skills to focus on understanding the risks involved in cloud computing. Along with the obvious technical skills, interpersonal skills are also required. As cloud computing is still so new, IT professionals working in the field will often find their knowledge level greatly outweighs that of their employer, so good communication skills are vital. The ability to advise your employer on the direction they should take their business in a language they will understand, and make them feel comfortable with your choices, is essential.

Ann Duignan, Cloud Integration Engineer, Ericsson