Moving to Cloud

Baby steps to a career in Cloud Computing

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I wrote a twitter thread in December 2020 in an attempt to collate advice I had given to a bunch of people who made career transition to cloud. It was received relatively well. Its time to convert it into a blog post. Our default choice of cloud for this post would be AWS.

This blog post is inspired from this tweet

This post is indented for developers, system admins, DBA's etc. already working in a professional setting. There is a different thread (which I will convert to a blog post soon) for recent graduates or for people looking to make a career switch.

Having made that clear, let jump into the actual stuff.

Trick 1 - Gain entry into the cloud from a familiar landscape

You can do this by using a few services from cloud that you could potentially use at work. Use the cloud which is accessible to your at your workplace. If you don't use cloud at work, start with AWS.

Lets look at few examples -

Example 1 - I was working as SQL Dev with Oracle/ MS SQL / PostgreSQL. The moment I had a chance to deploy a PostgreSQL DB in cloud ( which was quite new in the org at that time), I volunteered. Played around it for a bit and complemented it with online classes.

Example 2 - If you are a sysadmin, you can start exploring EC2, LightSail and Elastic beanstalk. If your work permits, try running a development workload of an existing application you are handling on any of these services. If it doesn't, create a free tier account and setup a WordPress or ghost blog. It will cost you less than 10$ to have a nice blog with your custom URL.

Example 3 - If you are a front end developer, start with Amplify Framework. Take a look at how it can help you accelerate your development. Try a few features in your dev environment or in your side projects.

Once you start working with these services in the area of your expertise, slowly start looking at other services from AWS that are supporting the application. Look at the solution diagram and reason with yourself why they were chosen the way they are. Slowly and steadily as you gain interest gain, take active participation in cloud related tasks. Fill in the gaps by either taking a cloud certification or by implementing a few side projects.

Trick 2 - Get involved in the community. Attend meetups / seminars

A very underrated and excellent way of learning is to observe people who excel at their craft and learn in the process. It's equivalent to active listening from music. Personally, this is the part where I learned the most from. I observed how people were using the services in their setup. I tried to relate what I observed with things at work. Took notes in meetups and tried researching on them while trying to solve a problem at work. Luckily AWS User Group was in nascent stages when this happened and I got to be a part of the journey to build that user group. I learned a ton in that process.

To validate your skills speak at your local meetups. There are many people who don't know what you know. Share it. This helps you boost your confidence, expand your network and enhance your people skills.

Trick 3 - Teach Someone

Write summary of what you learnt at any webinar / meetup and share it with your friends / colleagues / boss. Try teaching them what you learnt. Help a colleague or friend with the cloud basics. Teaching someone will uncover quite a lot of details that you would generally miss while learning yourself.

Trick 4 - Show your work

So far you have put in a few hours and done some work to hone your skills in cloud. However it is not enough. You need to let people know, that you know cloud. There are a few ways to do it without showing it to everyone's face. Lets take a look at them -

1. Get Certified

Many, if not all employers love certified folks. But keep in mind, the certificate alone won't be enough to get the job for you, but it can open some doors. Let the certification open the door, but let your work do the talking in an interview. For someone who needs a structured way to study, this is a nice way of getting it done.

2. Use social media

Tweet helpful snippets of your notes, share some of your learning on you blog, share how you solved a particular problem at work that involved cloud on LinkedIn, answer a few questions on stack-overflow if you can. The trick is to project your profile as someone who knows cloud and can get things done.

3. Projects

When you study for certifications, make sure you are doing a lot of hands on labs. Mimicking the workflows from your work is the best exercise you could do. If that is not possible, deploy a web app using as many services as you can.

E.g. You could deploy a static website using S3, S3+Cloudfront, Amplify Console, EC2, EC2 + SSL using ALB, LightSail, Elastic beanstalk etc.

You can use tools like Hugo to generate these sites.

Similar things can be done to other services too. Use your existing expertise.

These 4 tricks have helped me immensely to reach where I am today. My official title now reads 'Cloud Architect' and I owe a lot of my relative success to the above tricks / process.

Got any questions? Comment here or reach out to me via twitter.

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