Cloud Engineer & Cloud Architect – What’s the difference?

Cloud Engineer & Cloud Architect – What’s the difference?

Posted on:
by Cathal McAliskey
IT Jobs and Recruitment Insights

Cloud computing is something that is becoming more popular within today’s IT industry with the emergence of the cloud hosting offering from Microsoft, Amazon and Google. IT Companies see cloud as the future. They migrate to cloud to save costs, improve flexibility and increase scalability. Migration to the Cloud comes with the challenge of getting the right people in to manage and design their system. 

Here Cloud Engineers and Cloud Architects play a key part in the migration, new design and maintenance of their new cloud infrastructure and system. Both roles are important in order for a company to build a successful cloud infrastructure. Cloud Engineers and Cloud Architects will both use the same cloud technology, but they will focus on different areas and will have different skill sets. Let’s look at how each play their part and how their roles differ:

Cloud Engineer

cloud engineer

A cloud engineer manages the solution and is involved in constant monitoring and maintenance. They will set aims for system improvements. Rather than business aspirations and goals they focus on technical requirements.


They will be involved in running jobs, deployments, and services on the system. They are responsible for all aspects of the cloud system so must be very hands-on. A Cloud Engineer oversees setting production goals and ensures that other members of the Engineering team meet these. A Cloud Engineer will be tasked with finding and fixing problems quickly while aligning with technical requirements.

Here are some responsibilities of a Cloud Engineer:

  • Testing/Maintaining Cloud system infrastructure and servers
  • Create documentation outlining system design
  • Accessing hardware and software needs
  • Be comfortable with different operating systems – Windows, Unix. Linux, MacOs, Android
  • Deal with issues in performance, solve problems
  • Management/Client communication and reporting
  • Ensure Engineering team follow Cloud procedure
  • Ensuring Cloud Security
  • Understanding of Azure/AWS/GCP
  • Use of programming languages such as Java, PHP, Ruby, Node.js and Python.
  • Use tools and platforms such as Hadoop, Spark, Kafka or Kubernetes and SQL/NoSQL databases

Cloud Architect

Cloud architect job responsibilities

A Cloud Architect designs cloud based servers and systems to meet customer requirements. They will be tasked with designing and planning several tasks and projects in order to meet business requirements. Cloud Architects are reflective in their approach  as they look at ways of improving design. In some cases, they will be tasked with redesigning the architecture of an existing system. This can be during migration to the cloud or when a company wants to scale and needs a system that can best suit its growth plans.

  • You can rely on a Cloud Architect to address concerns around scalability of existing infrastructure and take the right actions to adapt to sudden or planned growth. They will be solutions focused and be capable of consulting with multiple stakeholders. They would make key decisions around architecture direction and cloud deployments. Here are some responsibilities of a Cloud Architect:Design Cloud Systems, create system plans
  • Determine how cloud computing will be used to meet customer needs
  • Managing data transfer to cloud based system
  • Solves problems around migration/scalability
  • Define and develop operating procedures
  • Plan production and migration schedules
  • Install and configure software
  • Communicate design plan and procedures to other staff
  • Strong understanding of Azure/AWS/GCP
  • Use of programming languages such as Java, PHP, Ruby, Node.js and Python


Example: Motorsport World Rally Championship Race

To understand both roles, their responsibilities and how they work together we will consider the example of a Motorsport World Rally Championship Race. The goal here is to win/complete the race and both driver and navigator must work together.

Driver: like a Cloud Engineer, they will be focusing on real time tasks such as steering, breaking, drifting, and accelerating. They are more focused on present actions rather than planning action.

Navigator: like the Cloud Architect, they will focus on a plan to win/complete the race. They will create a route plan to win/complete the race and will advise the driver on speed, turning angle and direction. They will not complete the real time tasks but create an appropriate strategy to get to the end goal.

So during the race the driver is focusing on implementation more than planning action when to be done and directions where to go , while the Navigator is focusing on actions when to be done and ways to win/complete the race. The Cloud Engineer will focus on implementation real time tasks whereas the Cloud Architect will plan and design a strategy for success. 

In conclusion

From the information above we can see the major difference between Cloud Engineers and Architects is their approach. Cloud Engineers are focused on the now and are involved in day to day managing, monitoring and maintenance. Whereas Cloud Architects focus is on the future, they plan and design strategies and systems to meet customer/business requirements. What is evident is how they must work together to have a successful cloud infrastructure/system.

The example of a Rally race shows how each role plays a vital part in reaching company goals and although they have different duties, they share a common goal. Cloud Architects are usually seasoned Cloud Engineers who can evaluate new cloud technology and its impact to the business. Their salaries would reflect this. Have a look at our salary guide.

What do tech companies look for while recruiting cloud professionals?

With cloud becoming increasingly more popular in the IT industry it is important to stand out with your cloud experience. A way in which to do so would be to gain a Cloud Engineer or Cloud Architect accreditation from Microsoft, Amazon or Google. By doing so you will learn cloud computing best practice and keep up to date with latest features. 

When hiring staff these accreditations can be useful to find Cloud experts in a particular area e.g. If a company is looking to migrate to a new AWS Cloud system, they should look for a Cloud Architect with an AWS accreditation who understands the AWS Cloud offerings.

If you’re looking to hire cloud professionals check out our services page or to find a new cloud position visit our careers page. To learn more about Cloud check out our Get Your Head Into The Cloud blog for more information. 


Cloud is the future, embrace it.

Latest Insights

Interviewing Techniques for Data Centre Roles: Questions That Matter

Interviewing Techniques for Data Centre Roles: Questions That Matter