Are you a software engineer looking to shift your career to cloud development? Are you wondering what it takes to become a cloud developer, and what additional skills you need to acquire? Great! Keep reading, as we will tell you the difference between traditional vs. cloud software development and share critical skills of a successful cloud developer.
Cloud vs. Traditional Software Development
IT is constantly evolving, and ambitious software developers must invest in their growth to keep up with the technology. Cloud computing has changed software development for good. There’s no time for lengthy application development processes now. In the modern world, software development must be fast, agile and continuous. One version of an application goes to production, and simultaneously the development of the next version begins. This approach is driven by the users, who are more demanding and closer to developers than ever before.
In the traditional approach to software development, developers usually don’t interact with the end users. They are separated by intermediary agents: sales units and implementation consultants. When in the cloud, customers can communicate more directly with developers using social media. They can get across their requirements, thus eliminating the need for a support team.
In the cloud, customers expect that their applications will be always available and perform well under any circumstances. They also want applications to grow with them and adapt to their business needs, which usually reflect the market demand. The competition is very strong, and one has to adapt quickly. These circumstances shorten the application lifecycle and enforce continuous development and deployment. They also impose an approach that is entirely different from the traditional one. Cloud developers must be flexible and open-minded. They have to do much more than just write code…
Key Traits of a Skillful Cloud Developer
Cloud developers must assume a holistic approach to their work. As development and deployment have to be fast and agile, there’s no time to hand over deployment and other tasks to dedicated teams, or no time to request new virtual machines, storage, network and security changes from other teams and wait for weeks to provide resources and implement changes. Especially that in the cloud approach there are often no such teams at all. As a result, developers in the cloud setting are required to understand full-stack engineering, deployment automation, supporting infrastructure and non-functional requirements of their applications.
To become a cloud developer, you’ll need more than coding skills alone. You also have to be able to describe and understand a production deployment topology for the application, including all the related resources like compute, storage and networking ones. You must know how to identify and avoid all the potential points of failure, pinpoint existing security concerns, decide how to scale the application and resources, and what metrics to track and how to do it. Very often, you’ll also have to configure the virtual infrastructure to prepare the test environment on your own, so you need to have the relevant knowledge. Of course, to save time in the future, many of the above processes can be automated, and therefore you also should know APIs for the compute, storage and networking.
Another crucial ability is the understanding of serverless architecture. In the serverless approach, you don’t need any server, but you prepare your code, upload to the cloud and ignore hardware. Your functions are event-driven and invoked when the desired event occurs. This way, your application becomes truly cloud-native.
A Few Other Things To Learn…
So far, we’ve named the crucial skills to acquire to become a cloud developer, but the list goes on. Here are some more terms and concepts that you must understand to embark on your career in the cloud:
- infrastructure-as-a-service platforms
- implementation of application scaling
- support for multiple availability zones, regions, VPCs
- using fail-over, replication to provide high availability
- using advanced cloud services like the queue, notification, workflow, and others to support application
- deploying serverless applications to fully benefit from the cloud approach
- using analytics services
- enabling logging and monitoring for troubleshooting and problem fixing
The list is long and, most likely, incomplete. It illustrates that a cloud developer must develop a large set of skills on top of the ones that a traditional developer possesses. When developing in the cloud, you need to know design patterns, object-oriented programming, different frameworks and programming languages. Just as in regular programming. You still have to write code. However, you also need to learn far more than what’s required from a traditional software developer.
Cloud Developer Training and Certification
And how to get the knowledge indispensable for a cloud developer? Developing cloud applications in principle is very similar to traditional web development. In the end, cloud applications are very often a combination of back-end software development with HTML front-end interface. As a result, it may be easier to switch to cloud development for people who already have worked on web-based projects.
Whether or not you have been engaged in web software before, you still need to learn at least the key cloud concepts. Fortunately, almost all cloud providers provide study resources for little or no cost.
A good idea may be to follow a certification path from a chosen vendor. For instance, Amazon has a dedicated certification path for developers. It has two tiers, the AWS Certified Developer certification for the associate level, and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer for the professional level. Obtaining a certificate may give you a significant boost in your career as a token of your cloud knowledge and proof that you have the skills required from a cloud developer.
Formal certification is not for everyone, though. Even if you don’t intend to pass certification exams, think about taking relevant training courses or watching online videos. They should provide you with enough background for your work.
You also need to realize that mastering the cloud is a continuous and never-ending process. Cloud services are evolving all the time, providing you with an opportunity for more and more advanced projects. Look for cloud projects available in your organization. If you find them, give it a try and learn by doing.
To Be or Not To Be a Cloud Developer?
And here comes the last question – do you have to become a cloud developer at all? Of course, you don’t. But you should. That is if you wish to rock your career in IT. As mentioned at the beginning, the IT industry is evolving at a staggering rate. And all professionals involved in it should follow that pace. If you want to keep up with software innovation, work with interesting projects, and create cutting-edge applications, you have to grow.
Customers are moving to the cloud, and this trend is on the rise. Cloud developers will be in great demand soon. On the other hand, the demand for traditional software developers may start decreasing shortly. The most interesting, and most beneficial, projects will move to the cloud. Do not miss your chance and prepare for the cloud future by becoming a cloud developer today.