Observations and Recommendations: With cloud computing becoming an integrated component of IT operations, companies are finding that they need to have in place cloud architects to ensure that the in-house and external operations are effectively integrated. The issue IT executives need to deal with when it comes to cloud and data center architecture is not a technical one but one of culture and governance. IT executives need to have a free hand in data center and platform architecture and product selection – and not be constrained by business unit executives that insist on owning and controlling their application environments. This manifestation spills over into cloud computing operations as well. Therefore, IT executives will need to put in place cloud architects that can deal effectively with business executives and internal politics as well as the technical issues.
Cloud Architect Roles: There are many permutations to cloud computing: public, private, hybrid, in-house, off-premise, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) to name the most common cloud types. It is highly likely an enterprise may over time require multiple types of cloud computing options. Depending on the enterprise's size, structure and complexity and on the IT data center operations complexity, the company may require multiple cloud architects. If the organization currently has multiple architects addressing applications, databases, data, networking, platforms, infrastructure, and security, these individuals may be supplemented by one or more cloud architects that can address the cloud computing components. Or the existing architects could be trained in cloud computing and have their roles expanded to encompass the new domains.
One role of a cloud architect is to work with business executives, translate their business requirements and strategy into a well-defined integrated IT architecture and implementation plan, and deliver the architecture in a timely fashion so that business objectives are met. Hence, the cloud architecture must align IT objectives and roadmaps to business goals and strategies.
The architect's role is a leadership position and therefore, must address business, financial, political and technical issues. This will require the individual to coordinate, facilitate and collaboratively work with business and IT executives and staff, and cross-functional teams. Business and IT executives should expect a cloud architect to identify, optimize, prioritize, and select critical cloud computing architectures, components, interfaces, policies, and procedures and make recommendations on the best way forward.
Additionally, the architect(s) must ensure the cloud environment satisfies corporate governance and security controls and requirements. The individual(s) should also be responsible for the development of self-service catalogs for cloud users. In many organizations the architect or architects will also be responsible for the development of the business case that demonstrates the value proposition of the target architecture.
The Bottom Line: Corporations needs to establish the roles and responsibilities of the cloud architect(s) so that the architect(s) can effectively act as an intermediary between the end-user departments and IT. Whether the enterprise requires one or more cloud architects, the architect or the architectural team must have detailed knowledge of the company's applications, databases, data, data center, networking, platforms, infrastructure, and security architectures. The cloud architect(s) must be the person(s) responsible within a corporation for the enterprise cloud computing in terms of its definitions, integration, maintenance, structures, etc. It is also imperative that all the parties with whom the cloud architect interfaces fully understand and accept his/her role and function. Without buy-in at both the management and non-management levels, the cloud architect(s) will be stymied and will not be able to perform effectively.