What Does a Cloud Administrator Do?

A cloud administrator oversees a computer network that allows outside users to connect via the Internet. He is in charge of the servers, which provide storage and run the programs that users can access remotely. His responsibilities are similar to those of a network administrator, with the exception that the cloud administrator’s network is open to anyone, not just employees of the company that owns the servers.

The term “cloud” was coined in the early twenty-first century. Companies networked their workstations in the 1990s using computer servers that were frequently on-site. These servers housed centralized software programs that workers could access from their desktops, as well as databases of data that everyone could see and change at the same time. Network administrators were hired to keep the system running smoothly, upgrade software and hardware, manage security, and provide technical support to individual employees.

When employees needed access to company information while on the road or at home, they had to dial into the company servers via a modem or an Internet connection. The program that granted access had to be installed locally on the worker’s computer. He couldn’t access the company servers from any other computer because it didn’t have the program.

As Internet connectivity became more reliable, it became possible to remotely locate servers that could be accessed any number of people via the Internet. The concept of software as a service (SAAS) was born as an alternative to each company having its own bank of servers running its own licensed software. SAAS allows software developers to host their own software on their own servers and make it available to customers via the Internet. On the software developer’s servers, each user has his own secure working environment and storage space. This server environment, where people’s data is stored remotely, is managed a cloud administrator.

A cloud administrator will be hired companies selling SAAS products such as email services, media storage space, or a sales management database to keep the servers running at peak efficiency. Their services rely on allowing software to be accessed via the Internet. To protect against privacy breaches and data loss, the servers that enable that functionality must be available 24 hours a day, running updated software and processing the most up-to-date security protocols. To ensure a stable server environment, administrators work directly within the computer operating system.

What a cloud administrator needs to know to do his job will vary depending on the environment. He’ll need to be familiar with server administration, networking, Internet connection protocols, and a variety of programming languages in general. He’ll almost certainly need to know how to work with Internet databases and how to administer the company’s specific SAAS. Most importantly, he must be well-versed in server security, as data security is one of the key factors driving consumer adoption of cloud computing.