Avoid these 2 cloud computing career pitfalls

People come to me all of the time looking to reengineer their IT career with a cloud computing makeover. While this is typically a good move, I find that as the world of cloud computing becomes more complex, those looking to get higher-paying cloud computing jobs are making some wrong calls. Here’s two of the most common.

Mistake No. 1: Going too wide

I’ve often explained the benefit of being a jack of all trades, and master of some to people wanting to become a cloud computing architect. These are people who understand cloud technology and can pick and choose the optimal solutions to create a foundational cloud architecture.

The problem comes when you consider that most people can understand a little of everything but might lack the deeper knowledge that could save them from huge blunders. For example, latency issues caused by bad architecture are often traced back to a cloud architect who does not understand networking, or architectures that compromise security due to lack of security knowledge, or poor choices around data integration, and so on.

Many architects oversell their ability to take all things into consideration at a deep enough level. These are typically skills obtained only over time. Moreover, they fail to understand that cloud architecture means still dealing with legacy systems, datacenters, and even hardware. Without a holistic understanding that goes deep enough to be productive, they’re likely not going to be good at this job.

Mistake No. 2: Going too narrow

Specialization is key to many things in IT, and the cloud job market is no exception. Some IaaS courses taken from a college or university are not as valuable as an AWS certification focused on a specific brand and technology pattern.

However, some people take this to an extreme, focusing on a specific type of public cloud service, such as AI, as well as a specific cloud service underneath that type.

The risk is that they’re tied to the success or failure of that particular single service. More likely than not it’s going to have a life cycle—a beginning, an expansion, and ultimately no new development. It’s a bit like investing in a single stock; you could be a big winner, but you’re likely be a loser at some point.

Cloud job skills should be as diversified as stock portfolios, at least enough to have several options. I’m not saying focus too widely (see mistake No. 1) but find at least a few related cloud services that are at various degrees of the bell curve.

It’s funny how cloud skills are indeed like investments. Make the right ones and you’ll do fine.

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