We heard from a cloud computing expert and a soon-to-be graduate on why this is an exciting field.
Cloud computing is a busy space, with new advancements and job opportunities appearing all the time as technology and innovation drive this field forward.
Already, many companies today are what Dr Fernando Perez Tellez described as “native cloud companies” – companies that came to life within the cloud. But even for more traditional businesses seeking to update their digital interactions and preserve their competitive edge, people with cloud computing skills are becoming more in-demand than ever before.
That’s something Perez Tellez sees “reflected in salaries now”, with career prospects in Ireland looking bright when it comes to cloud computing.
‘Get a job anywhere in the world’
As a computer lecturer in the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT), which is now part of TU Dublin, Perez Tellez is certainly in a position to divulge some valuable cloud computing knowledge. And, according to him, it’s a fascinating field to be in.
With cloud computing, he said, “you can be working for any company and any type of industry, starting from the cloud provider to a company”. But the choices don’t end there. In fact, Perez Tellez emphasised that once you’re embedded in the industry, you “will be able to get a job anywhere in the world”.
So, what types of skills do cloud computing professionals need? As you might expect, basic knowledge of programming and automation forges a strong foundation.
But, as Perez Tellez made clear, it’s really a “combination of softer and technical skills” that’s key. In fact, the most important skills, he said, are “being a problem-solver” and having “the motivation to learn new things”.
Top tools for future professionals
Perez Tellez is familiar with the need to give students real-world experience when it comes to cloud computing. Embracing tools such as AWS Educate – a cloud training initiative from Amazon – is “important so young people can have access to the real web services in the cloud”, he said.
“We’ve used it to train students, teach them how to use the web services and, depending on their level, they can use it to develop a final-year project.”
One of the main reasons for choosing the programme is the prevalence of AWS tech among companies. By engaging students with it, they’re given the experience they may need to get employment in the sector after they graduate.
‘You can be working for any company and any type of industry, starting from the cloud provider to a company’
– DR FERNANDO PEREZ TELLEZ
This is especially true given that “many companies are not using traditional infrastructure any more – many are using the more cost-effective model of going to the cloud”, Perez Tellez said.
“They use what they need, when they need it, and they pay only for what they use. So it’s very flexible.”
Describing the benefits of the AWS programme, he added: “It’s great for students because you can create an account without a credit card, which is very good for learning the basics and the foundations.
“Let’s use the example of networking – we have the theory, of course, and then we prepare an online networking lab that will cover networking in the cloud. This knowledge is now transferred into the cloud technology. This way, they learn about traditional environments but they also learn other environments.”
‘Security in every layer’
In his teaching, Perez Tellez mostly uses AWS Educate in labs for practical work because “hands-on experience is the most important for students to learn”.
The service aims to offer students access to self-paced content focusing on real-world applications. Modules covered in preparing for a career in cloud computing include artificial intelligence, voice and facial recognition, gaming, medical advancements and more.
As for the types of skills Perez Tellez uses the service to teach, he said: “In my work, for example, I have a module called Architecting on the Corporate Cloud, which I use for teaching them a specific service.
“Then the different key concepts that we need to teach include how to create, how to use the best practices in cloud computing, how to create reliable, very effective and secure solutions – all concepts that are very important to cloud computing.”
In light of the importance of cybersecurity for web users and organisations today, he drew particular attention to teaching his students “that it’s important to ensure security in every layer”.
What does a job in cloud computing look like?
The most exciting thing about the impacts of cloud computing, according to Perez Tellez, is that people working in the field will help empower companies to focus more on idea generation and the applications of their tech, rather than the operational minutiae of their infrastructure and support systems.
Speaking to the types of jobs graduates can expect to qualify for, he said: “Probably the most relevant one is solutions architect. Or IT tech solutions, creating safe and reliable solutions, which is a role in high demand at the moment.”
‘I want to be a solutions architect because I like integrating loads of services together. And I want to get the chance to build and help companies with their infrastructure’
– AMANDA DOYLE
That’s exactly what student Amanda Doyle is currently looking forward to as she moves through her final year at TU Dublin. She already has a cloud support associate position lined up to enter into in the summer after her final exams.
Within that role, she’ll be supporting SMEs and enterprises with their web technologies, drawing on such technical skills as networking and navigating operating systems such as Linux.
Doyle reinforced the point that soft skills are just as integral to the role, saying: “Communication skills and teamwork skills are important too.”
Doyle utilised AWS Educate to realise her final-year project ambitions, which involved harnessing the voice control aspects of Alexa to enable companies to minimise administrative efforts in managing their resources.
“This year I’m using it more than ever for my final-year project. We use AWS Educate and, through our credits, we’ve been able to get to do hands-on labs. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any idea of the different services out there.”
That experience with tech services is what gave Doyle an edge in her job interviews, she explained. “If you’re going for an interview for cloud computing, have practical hands-on experiences with some of the services.”
It has also helped her to look further into her future, beyond the initial career steps that she’s about to take.
“In five years’ time, I want to be a solutions architect because I like integrating loads of services together. And I want to get the chance to build and help companies with their infrastructure,” she said.