So you want to be a Solutions Architect but you don't have a Computer Science degree? I got you!
First off, you may have heard so much about being an SA(Solutions Architect) and maybe you're fascinated about it or maybe you don't know what on earth I am talking about but you've always wanted to have a career in Tech
I'll tell you what an SA (Solutions Architect) does. When an organisation wants to deploy apps, services or products, there's a need for someone who can look at how this will have an impact on the business outcomes. Yea, That makes a whole lot of lot sense. Thanks for nothing.
Okay, okay, I'll simplify this.
A company has a problem. They get a product/ app/ service to help solve that problem.The SA (Solutions Architect) looks at the problem and the solution; then provides the vision for the solution. Sounds like aspire to perspire gang, huh?
As an SA (Solutions Architect), you'll convert the technical requirements to architectural designs that shape the final solution that will be implemented.
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Ps. I am only going to focus on how you can be a Cloud Solutions Architect. For a good article on being an all round SA (Solutions Architect), do a quick search on Google. It's not a walk in the park especially if you don't have a Computer Science background. You'll need a whole lot of discipline and stick-to-it-iveness to follow through.
Now, to the meat of the matter.
To be a Cloud Solutions Architect, start with learning:
1. Amazon Web Services
3. Google Cloud Technologies
There will be many debates on which is more important, don't get lost in the noise. Focus on being good with one cloud solution and learn the next as they use similar principles.
Debating what solution is better than the other is like the pointless argument of pouring milk before cereal or cereal before milk. All the argument proves is that you eat cereal for breakfast & not eggs.
Although I am pretty sure there is also a pointless argument about eggs. Alas, I digress!
I'll Start with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The learning path is clearly mapped out and looks like this:
8 skills you need to be a Cloud Solutions Architect
Now that we've agreed this will be a challenge, here are the skills you need to be a Cloud Solutions Architect:
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1. Understand the basic concept of cloud computing
Cloud computing is simply accessing services provided by a company over the internet. When you search for anything on google, you are accessing a cloud service. For example, you store your photos on Apple's iCloud or Google Photos. These platforms are not abstract. They are data centres you access as opposed to storing your photos on a hard drive/ usb stick.
This article provides a starting point for understanding the basics of cloud computing: What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know about the cloud explained
A quick course on Coursera will also help: Cloud Computing
Be willing to be wrong and put your hands up when you don't know the answers. When something doesn't make sense to you, probe it. That way, you are not making things up as you go. You actually know what you're talking about and your stakeholders can trust you.
The confidence/ competent loop is quite apt in this situation. The more you work on your skills and competence in things you don't know, the more confident you become.
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Translating technical babble to business lingo is such an underrated skill and you need to master this if you want to be the go-to SA. Written and verbal communication is quite challenging to master, but once you do, you'll enjoy learning new things and explaining them in simple ways to people.
I find that teaching helps you learn how to communicate effectively. Look for communities around you that are open to volunteer teachers. It helps your communications skills more than you can imagine.
If you are in London, volunteer with Microsoft, Google or Amazon to lead workshops on areas of cloud computing you are good at or want to become an expert in.
If that's not your cup of tea, take these courses:
a. Storytelling in the Workplace
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b. Communication Skills for Engineers
c. Improving Communication Skills
You'll be 'preaching' to business leaders and senior stakeholders who hold the purse strings. They usually don't know what they want but want someone with the technical acumen and the ability to own and drive the execution of the chosen solution.
This is where your leadership skills come to play. You cannot afford to hem or haw or seem confused. Constantly practice how to be confident in things you don't understand without giving yourself away.
Then hone in the leadership skills to instil discipline, utilise the different strengths of your team and fix forward when issues arise.
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Read my two favourite simonsinek's books to help you develop your leadership style:
5. Ability to identify and manage risks
This comes with learning how to be comfortable with making mistakes and learning from said mistakes. Get used to documenting and questioning why one solution worked in a circumstance but was an utter failure in another circumstance. Also, make Quora your best friend. Many SAs share their learnings there and you don't have to make the same mistakes.
Your daily work will involve negotiating EVERYTHING, especially technical decisions. You need to learn how to back up your position with facts and not be fazed when people attack you personally about a decision you've made.
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Best of all, you'll need to learn how to make other people see your point of view and also how to concede when better/ superior facts present themselves to make you change your position.
7. Knowledge of various complex IT ecosystems besides cloud architecture
I know I said I'll focus on how to be a Cloud SA without a computer science degree, but the truth is you need to have a broad knowledge of different IT ecosystems.
Many companies still have legacy systems in place from the eighties and you need to understand the entire architecture without breaking the ecosystem or causing changes that will affect BAU activities.
8. Willing to learn continuously
This is non negotiable. Things change so rapidly, you'll always be behind if you don't deliberately create time to up-skill and continuously re-certify/ take exams.
If you find it challenging to learn new things, take barbaraoakley's course on : Learning How to Learn
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I know, you are about to ask me why I did not mention any technical skills. To stand out, you need to first hone in your non technical skills, then you'll feel confident to tackle the technical bits that seem to scare people away.
Updated on 2:49-am May 31, 2023