How to build a successful cloud team
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Posted by: Lucidchart Content Team
Being a cloud manager is a significant challenge. Maybe your organization has decided to move to the cloud and now you need to put together a team to make that happen. Or maybe you’re finally getting serious about minimizing cost and improving performance. Or perhaps you’re rapidly scaling and need more resources to maintain your progress.
No matter what cloud stage you’re in, managing the cloud is a meticulous process. You will need to bring together an all-star group to ensure success. Your team must be able to manage and support the cloud before, during, and after migrations. You'll need a variety of roles and skills to build and maintain a successful cloud environment.
Here's who should be part of your team, and what they're responsible for:
- Executive sponsor: Liaisons between tactical cloud team and leadership.
- Cloud architect: Supervises the organization's strategy for cloud computing.
- Cloud software developer: Develops applications and programs for your new cloud environment.
- Cloud security manager: Manages application security, performs risk analysis, and more.
- Compliance specialist: Develops privacy policies and processes, ensuring the organization meets all industry standards.
- Project manager: Supervises each phase of the project.
- Cloud systems analysts: Monitors the performance of all cloud systems.
In this article, we will discuss each of these roles to help you successfully run your business in the cloud.
Who belongs on your all-star cloud team
Migrating to the cloud and keeping it running smoothly is not the time to “wing it.” You need to find the right people with the right skills, and you need to assign them to the right roles. If you are lucky, you can find these people within your own organization. But there’s nothing wrong with looking at outside resources to build your dream team.
Here are the people you’ll need to add to your team in order to design, plan, and implement a cloud migration and/or future iterations to your infrastructure.
While your CIOs and CTOs are heavily involved in cloud initiatives, they are rarely in the weeds. So, you will need somebody in a senior-level position who is well-respected, accessible, tech-savvy, and who will take ownership of—and champion for—your cloud needs.
Your executive sponsor plays an essential role in communicating a holistic cloud strategy. They may have high-level involvement with leadership and making cloud initiatives decisions, potential migration, cost and performance optimization, helping the IT organization make a cultural shift to the cloud, and developing a training plan for employees.
The executive sponsor should develop a technology plan that gives decision-makers an estimated financial projection and should include a proposed budget and the resources that will be needed. However, they can’t make the decision alone and should consult the other members of the cloud team.
The executive sponsor’s responsibilities include:
- Attending meetings
- Reporting progress to other executive stakeholders
- Championing all things related to the cloud migration
- Measuring success
- Drafting new team members
- Training employees on working in the cloud
- Assessing training and hiring needs
As the roles and responsibilities of CIOs and CTOs continue to evolve in response to digital transformation and cloud initiatives, your executive sponsor is a critical team member who can liaison between leadership and more tactical team members, ensuring alignment between overall business goals and day-to-day cloud practices.
A cloud service architect is a computer science professional and an IT expert. The cloud architect is responsible for supervising a company’s strategy for cloud computing. This person is involved with:
- Designing cloud applications
- Developing approval plans, adoption plans, and migration plans
- Managing and monitoring all cloud systems, including front-end platforms, servers, and storage
- Helping the company use the cloud efficiently
This is a very technical role that requires extensive IT experience and cloud knowledge. The person you choose for this role should understand cloud technologies and be able to stay current with technology innovations and trends.
Typically a cloud architect will be in the weeds developing new designs and performing ongoing maintenance, but this person also might manage a team of architects and even serve as a liaison to engineers.
A cloud engineer is an IT and engineering professional who is expected to have a wide variety of technical skills and knowledge. Cloud engineers are responsible for deploying and maintaining many components of the cloud infrastructure including network design, resource allocation, storage, and cloud security. There are usually multiple cloud engineers that will focus on specific areas of the cloud system. They may also be called a cloud software engineer, cloud security engineer, cloud systems engineer, cloud network engineer, or a database manager.
Don’t confuse cloud engineers with cloud architects. Cloud engineers ensure that architects have properly designed the servers, and architects are the systems designers.
Some responsibilities of a cloud engineer include:
- Providing maintenance and support
- Identifying automation opportunities
- Discovering cost and performance optimizations
A cloud engineer should be familiar with data-oriented programming languages such as Java, Python, SQL, Clojure, Google Go, Erlang, and Haskell. In addition, a cloud engineer may be expected to have experience with cloud platforms and hosting services such as:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google compute engine
- Microsoft Azure
Cloud software developer
Cloud software developers are professional software developers who have the creativity and technical know-how to develop programs that are stored in the cloud. Cloud developers should have an in-depth understanding of service level agreements and a range of cloud provider architectures, such as AWS, GCP, and Azure.
- Turning architected designs into infrastructure code
- Determining how the app should operate
- Monitoring cloud maintenance
- Scaling application components
- Managing and maintaining existing cloud app systems
- Upgrading existing systems
- Designing new systems
A cloud software developer should be an experienced computer programmer, with knowledge of multiple programming languages, and exercise good communication and analytical skills, as they will be required to work with other roles on your cloud team, such as during architecture reviews or during incident response.
Cloud security manager
Cloud security may be the most important element of doing business on the cloud. You don’t want any unauthorized access to sensitive data, so it’s worth hiring a dedicated security manager. The cloud security manager is responsible for:
- Application security
- Securing cloud infrastructure
- Ensuring that software and services adhere to the highest security standards
- Performing risk analysis
- Testing vulnerabilities
- Working with software developers to enhance security
One of the biggest advantages of working in the cloud—being able to access data from anywhere—can also be one of the biggest disadvantages because of the time and resources required to ensure data flow and transmission is done securely.
Maintaining security plays a role in preventing data breaches, as well as reducing downtime and outages. Cloud security managers should work with compliance specialists to proactively design architectures with compliance standards in mind, making security recommendations during architecture reviews or during post-mortems.
The cloud compliance specialist helps develop privacy policies and processes. This person works with the security manager to ensure that the organization is in compliance with industry privacy and security standards and requirements.
- Maintaining compliance certifications
- Working with legal and security teams to ensure that the organization meets and maintains compliance standards
- Evaluating products and processes to ensure compliance guidelines are met
- Puts proper proactive and reactive audit processes in place.
Cloud compliance is an ongoing process and team effort and requires regular reviews to ensure constant compliance with industry standards outlined in GDPR, FedRAMP, and PCI guidelines.
To compare your architecture with compliance guidelines requires regular architecture review with your architecture review board.
The compliance specialist, along with many of the other roles described here (such as the cloud security manager) could be a part of the review board. Together, this diverse team meets and pores over architecture diagrams to ensure all information is accurate, up to date, and compliant.
The project manager works to move a project from the planning stages all the way to completion. A project manager is essential to bring cloud teams together and coordinate all of the moving pieces, such as big and small deployments, security and compliance audits, and ensuring the right stakeholders are in cloud architecture reviews (just to name a few).
Part of the project manager's responsibilities include:
- Managing schedules
- Reporting progress to management
- Keeping lines of communication open among various teams
- Tracking and managing risks
- Ensuring alignment across teams
- Assign tasks and manage sprint planning
While a project manager isn’t necessarily a required team member, they can simplify and organize an otherwise complex series of tasks and projects. Hiring a person to keep track of what work is required and by when gives your cloud team members the bandwidth to focus on maintaining a healthy cloud environment.
Cloud systems analysts
Cloud systems analysts are responsible for monitoring the performance of your cloud systems. They work to guarantee that the system stays online so that service to customers is not interrupted.
Cloud system analyst responsibilities can include:
- Collaborating with engineering teams
- Tracking capacity problems
- Identifying holes in security
- Highlighting potential problems before those problems have the chance to interrupt service to customers
How to ensure cross-functional collaboration on your cloud team
Many of the roles a part of the cloud team will come from other positions and departments. These experts may not interact with one another daily. Therefore, to ensure success, you will need to establish cross-functional collaboration that brings the entire team together and reduce confusion.
Visualize your entire cloud architecture
Your cloud environment contains many moving parts with many people working at various levels. That gets complicated and confusing quickly. Diagram your cloud architecture to contextualize all those moving parts and visualize how everything fits together, what your current environment looks like, and what areas need attention.
Automatically visualize your entire cloud environment with Lucidscale to see key cloud governance data in context. Simply connect your cloud environment through third-party access to generate your full cloud infrastructure organized by cloud, region, compute instance, or other resources.
Ensure all roles and teams are aligned
Complexity is a given when it comes to cloud management and it can often lead to misalignment, confusion, and miscommunication. All of which are harmful to your cloud operations.
Prioritize communication, use visual collaboration, and standardize processes to align your team and get everyone on the same page. Focus on clarifying everyone’s roles and responsibilities to ensure expectations are understood and met.
Employ and standardize processes
Cloud management doesn’t stop after migration is complete. There will still be maintenance, compliance audits, optimization, resource deployment, data integration, and more critical tasks to be done on a regular basis. To keep up with everything, you are going to need to institute and standardize processes for continued cloud management from your team.
Compliance specialists and security managers will need to establish routine reviews to ensure a secure cloud environment. Cloud architects, developers, and engineers should work together to find opportunities for optimization. Your executive sponsor must maintain open communication with stakeholders and leadership.
Consider implementing an iterative methodology that will help you make continual improvements. For example, you could use the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle as a guide to learn which processes or technologies need to be improved, test the proposed improvement, analyze the performance, implement the change, and start over again.
Centralize all cloud documentation
Create a hub of centralized documentation that everyone on the team can easily access. This way everyone is always on the same page. You can even keep this documentation in Lucidchart, or store it in Jira, Confluence, and other leading apps and integrations.
Get organizational buy-in
Company-wide support helps make your migration to the cloud is a success and provides resources to continue to improve your cloud architecture post-migration.
To get organizational buy-in you need to clearly articulate what cloud management means. You will need to help others understand why changes are needed and how the changes will be beneficial. Communicating and gaining buy-in are team efforts and will require executive support, as well as training or input from experts in their areas such as the cloud architect, engineer, and software developer on the team.
Establish internal best practices
There aren't any shortcuts when it comes to cloud management. How you manage your cloud architecture will have a direct impact both positive and negative on your cloud environment. Avoid common pitfalls by enforcing the best practices and fuel the success of your cloud environment by establishing how to approach security, management, and governance.
Migrating to—and managing—the cloud is not an endeavor that should be taken lightly. You’ll want to be sure to have the best, most experienced people to facilitate the work that needs to be done. Lucidscale provides your team with accurate and up-to-date cloud architecture diagrams so they can achieve your organization's cloud initiatives.
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