SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Anatomy of a Cloud Consultant

What defines a "cloud expert"?

Earlier this week I was asked to participate in a cloud panel with a group of so called cloud experts. The panel focused on the state of the cloud industry. I have been on many of these cloud panels in the last year and have found it to be pretty vague what defines a "cloud expert".

So what is a cloud expert/consultant? First let's go to Wikipedia. According to the site, in the broadest sense, "a consultant is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise. A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. Thus, clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and may purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired."

So a Cloud Consultant is basically an "expert" in the realm of cloud computing. Someone who has a deep and broad level of experience and understanding of the problems introduced by moving to a cloud based environment. This sounds straight forward enough.

So how do you qualify a cloud expert? This is where things start to get complicated. First of all, unlike other areas of IT there is no professional certification for "cloud consultants". So choosing a professional cloud consultant or service firm is a matter of doing your due diligence. To help, I've compiled a brief check list of things you may want to look for when selecting your cloud consultant.

1. Experience - As in any profession, experience solving real world problems is probably more important then anything else. Has your potential consultant done anything of consequence? What other companies has your consultant worked with, what major obstacles have they solved and how? On the flip side, if they claim 10 years experience as a cloud consultant, dig deeper, how did this obvious previous experience related to what more recently has been referred to as the cloud? Some possibly answers may include experience in Grid or Distributed computing, building large multi-location data center architectures, load balancing schemes, web server clustering or other elastic methodologies.

John M Willis is prime example with extensive experience in related areas of expertise such as Enterprise Systems management. Using this related experience Willis has been able to transfer those skills built up over decades into a thriving cloud consulting operation.

I'd also keep in mind that cloud computing isn't something new, but instead the intersection of several existing technologies. Make sure your consultant has the right mix of experience in the areas that are of most concern to you and your business.

2. Code - Often consultants do very little more then make recommendations that others must implement. This can be useful, but more often running code is more useful. One of the best and easiest ways to find great cloud consultants is look for those consultants who have taken it upon themselves to create open source cloud related Projects. The Boto Project by Mitch Garnaat is a perfect example. Garnaat is a longtime AWS consultant, a doer who is an active community member on the AWS community discussion boards, he proved his worth by his actions in the community and producing a project that helps thousands around the globe. It also helps that he's been working with AWS since 2006.

3. Community Engagement - As I mentioned previously, community involvement is another great way to gauge experience. Places like the the AWS discussion boards, or various other discussion groups are ideal places to find those hidden gems. They also provide valuable insight into the capabilities of the given consultant in a public setting. Is your consultant a troll who picks fights or are they a helpful member of the community? A quick Google search and you'll have your answer.

4. Blogs & Whitepapers -Blogs have also become very useful ways to determine a cloud consultants vision and capabilities. Although they may not shed to much light on their actual experience they do provide a potential channel by which you could find a consultant.

Randy Bias a well regarded cloud consultant provides what he describes as a StrengthsFinder Report to help potential consumers in their selection. The report provides a review of the knowledge and skills acquired and can give a basic sense of your consultants abilities. According to Bias, the report provides insight into the natural talents of the consultant and can give true insight into the core reasons behind their successes and why you should select them.

5. Interview - Like any job, interview your consultant. Ask them questions that would gauge their qualifications. Start off by asking them the ultimate trick question, "what is cloud computing?". Good answers avoid the specifics of the technology but instead focus on the opportunities. Bad answers are things like saying "Salesforce" or "Virtualization" or "VMware".

Keep in mind if you ask a 100 people what cloud computing is, you'll probably get 200 answers. So if you are wondering how would I answer, the question? Here you go, this one is on the house. "Broadly I see cloud computing as a new method to market, management and deploy software and or infrastructure using the web. Or more simply -- web centric software and infrastructure."

You may also want to refer to specific definitions use things like the Wikipedia definition or the NIST definition as your benchmark. If your consultant says according to NIST or uses other well regarded "cloud luminaries" that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you agree with them. For instance, according to Larry Ellison may be good if your getting a job with an Oracle shop, but no so good for a Google App Engine gig.

6. References - Your only as good as your last job. So make sure to do your homework and ask the right questions. What did the consultant do, what problems did they solve, what technologies and platforms did they use and why was it a cloud project?

In closing, I do believe that a major obstacle to cloud computing consultants is the lack of accreditation. One possibly solution is to create an official professional cloud certification. One model could be similar to the IT Architect Certification Program provided by the Open Group. The Open Group certification program provides a framework for accreditation of third parties to establish IT Architect certification programs affiliated to The Open Group. The framework of accreditation and certification is specifically intended to standardize the process and criteria for IT Architect professional certification and establish a foundation for the required skills and experience necessary to achieve such a distinction. Basically, the Open Group has created a basic way for you to select someone with a standard level of knowledge required to preform the job of a IT Architect. Similarly, this could be applied to the job of a cloud consultant / Architect.

Good Hunting.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Reuven Cohen

An instigator, part time provocateur, bootstrapper, amateur cloud lexicographer, and purveyor of random thoughts, 140 characters at a time.

Reuven is an early innovator in the cloud computing space as the founder of Enomaly in 2004 (Acquired by Virtustream in February 2012). Enomaly was among the first to develop a self service infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform (ECP) circa 2005. As well as SpotCloud (2011) the first commodity style cloud computing Spot Market.

Reuven is also the co-creator of CloudCamp (100+ Cities around the Globe) CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas and is the largest of the ‘barcamp’ style of events.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Latest Stories
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
ScaleMP is presenting at CloudEXPO 2019, held June 24-26 in Santa Clara, and we’d love to see you there. At the conference, we’ll demonstrate how ScaleMP is solving one of the most vexing challenges for cloud — memory cost and limit of scale — and how our innovative vSMP MemoryONE solution provides affordable larger server memory for the private and public cloud. Please visit us at Booth No. 519 to connect with our experts and learn more about vSMP MemoryONE and how it is already serving some of...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
Platform9, the leader in SaaS-managed hybrid cloud, has announced it will present five sessions at four upcoming industry conferences in June: BCS in London, DevOpsCon in Berlin, HPE Discover and Cloud Computing Expo 2019.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
When you're operating multiple services in production, building out forensics tools such as monitoring and observability becomes essential. Unfortunately, it is a real challenge balancing priorities between building new features and tools to help pinpoint root causes. Linkerd provides many of the tools you need to tame the chaos of operating microservices in a cloud native world. Because Linkerd is a transparent proxy that runs alongside your application, there are no code changes required. I...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
Kubernetes as a Container Platform is becoming a de facto for every enterprise. In my interactions with enterprises adopting container platform, I come across common questions: - How does application security work on this platform? What all do I need to secure? - How do I implement security in pipelines? - What about vulnerabilities discovered at a later point in time? - What are newer technologies like Istio Service Mesh bring to table?In this session, I will be addressing these commonly asked ...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.