A lot of our consulting and training clients request us to help them interview for cloud professionals, especially in AWS and Azure. There is a high demand for cloud professionals and sometimes the interviewing Hiring or Learning Manager herself does not have the experience in these technologies to test the skills of the interviewee.
Thus, my aim here is to provide 7 key skills to evaluate a cloud consultant or trainer. I am clubbing consultants and trainers in the same bucket as I believe that in the current tech world, one cannot be only a trainer. You need a solid consulting experience to be able to teach these technologies. Thus at CloudThat, we do not have any pure Training / Consulting profiles, our Cloud Solution Architect delivers consulting as well as training for our clients.
So here are the skills. I hope this will help Hiring and Learning Managers to better evaluate cloud trainers and consultants.
1. Cloud Certifications Attained
All major cloud service providers like AWS, Azure and, OpenStack have a very robust certification landscape. AWS has 7 certifications, Azure currently has 11 and OpenStack has 2. Thus, one of the easier criteria would be to look for candidates with matching certification. For example, if you require a developer in Azure, there is a Developer Certification in Azure (70-532), and if you require an Architect in AWS, there is a separate certification for that in AWS called AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level, and an even more advanced certification is AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Level. Thus, if a candidate has a matching certification, at least you can be assured of some basic competency in these technologies. If you are looking for a trainer’s profile, then make sure he has one level higher certification than what he is going to teach. For example, if a trainer is supposed to take a training on AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level, then make sure he is certified at one level higher i.e. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Level. Similarly, if a trainer is supposed to train for Red Hat Certified System Administrator in OpenStack (EX210), then make sure he has attained certification one level above i.e. Red Hat Certified System Engineer in OpenStack (EX310).
2. Number of Virtual Servers Handled in the Previous Project
As certifications can sometimes be cleared with exam dumps, it should not be the only criteria. One of the easier and effective question is to ask, how many Virtual Servers (VMs) also called EC2 instances in AWS did they manage in previous project? The skills required to manage 10 VMs vs managing 100 VMs vs managing 1000 VMs are very different. Of course, the more the better. For a good consultant or trainer, at least skills of managing 100s of VMs is mandatory in my opinion. If your team has a requirement of managing 1000s of VMs, then look for someone who has done this already. Someone with great experience managing 10 VMs might not have all the skills required to manage 1000s of VMs.
3. Knowledge About the Cloud Ecosystem
In a typical Cloud Deployment, most teams use a variety of third party tools and technologies. Thus, having knowledge of the cloud ecosystem is a very important requirement. For example, most large-scale deployments of AWS, Azure, or OpenStack will use either Puppet, Chef or Ansible for infrastructure configuration automation, Jenkins / Ant / Maven for building and deployment (also called Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment i.e. CI / CD), JMeter / Bees with Machine Guns (yes, it’s a real name of the tool) for load testing, etc. Thus, ask them what other cloud ecosystem tools they have used, and for what? If the candidate has a breadth of knowledge about using these tools, he will be a good fit. Also, this shows the willingness of an individual to look for tools when a functionality not provided by the cloud platform is needed, rather than reinventing the wheel, which almost always costs more. Candidates who don’t have an experience with these tools might face a steep learning curve initially, if your team is already using a lot of these tools.
4. Expertise in Multiple Cloud Service Providers
AWS launched 1000 major feature changes in 2017. Azure possibly did at least half of that, if not more. Thus, looking for candidates that love to learn new things is a must. One way to look for these is finding people with expertise in more than one cloud platform. A solid consultant / trainer who is master of one technology should at least have a working knowledge of the other. AWS and Azure are the market leaders, and I expect cloud professionals to have knowledge of at least these two.
5. Automation Experience
One can only leverage the full utility of cloud if there is solid automation involved. Thus, experience with automation is a must. Ask the candidates how they implemented automation in their previous role. This can be developing Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI / CD) for their environment, automated environment provisioning, automated failure detection and recovery, etc. Also look for experience with automation services in the cloud platform they are an expert in; like AWS OpsWorks, Azure Automation Service, or OpenStack Heat.
6. Basic Knowledge About the Future of Cloud: Serverless Architecture
How virtualization experts were the vogue in early 2000s, and they later had to adapt by gaining cloud skills, the future of cloud is Serverless Architecture. Soon, most of the systems will migrate to Serverless Architecture, where you don’t even need to provision VMs. Look for someone who at least has a basic understanding of these technologies like Red Hat Containers, Docker, Kubernetes, AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, etc. This will help you have a consultant / trainer who is updated with the latest technologies and has an eye towards the future.
My colleague Himanshu Sachdeva has a great webinar recording on Serverless Architecture here, in case you want to know more.
7. Ability to Write Great Content
Ability to clearly communicate is a must for a trainer / consultant profile. Ability to write great content is an extension of that ability and a must in my opinion. Most consultants have to write a lot; whether it is for replying to an RFP, generating architecture designs, or to generate a migration roadmap. Trainers in cloud on the other hand have to deal with ever changing cloud platforms and update their training material to match that. AWS released over 1000 major features in 2016, so you can image how many times the training material has to be updated. For our own training, we update our curriculum at least once a month. Thus, look for a trainer / consultant that already maintains a blog, or has written something substantial in these technologies.
Hope these pointers are useful for hiring trainers and consultants in cloud. We at CloudThat pride ourselves in having the best trainers and consultants. If you want to inquire about our services, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.cloudthat.in.
Have I have missed any key skill? Please add in the comment section below. Thanks.