• Kevin B Ebert

Cloud Like You Own It



What makes a successful Cloud engineer? I’d say one important trait is someone who approaches their job as if they are the owner of the company. Why? Simple, as a Cloud engineer, day-in and day-out, you are acting as the judge, jury, and executioner through daily decisions on how to implement a robust cloud solution. That is, before the cloud, to deploy an Internet facing solution, you would maybe work a network engineer to setup load balancers and firewalls; a systems engineer to stand up servers; a security architect to configure IAM policies; and a DBA to run a relational database; a storage engineer to give your files a home; and finally an operations team to install and run the software.  But, with the cloud, one person plays all of those roles which means, you are making many different decisions on the success of the solution, in as much the same way as an owner makes a lot of decisions about their business. 

Having to wear so many hats and with the flexibility that cloud technology brings, an engineer today can make decisions that have material impacts on the vitality of the business for which they work. Think about it, if you inadvertently leave a file with customer data exposed on a public facing S3 bucket, you could make headline news with a simple decision that resulted in the wrong permissions being set on the S3 bucket exposing sensitive information. Thus, it is important to treat your job as if you are the owner of the company which means taking radical ownership of everything you do. Every decision made, every action taken should be made and taken with the same conviction that an owner of the company would do.

Now that we’ve established that cloud engineers need to approach their jobs as if they are the owners of the company, what competencies should they further develop to be the best owner that they can be? For me, they are:

  • An owner is Accountable for their actions

  • An owner Collaborates with others

  • An owner is Courageous in their decision making

  • An owner Instills Trust in others

Let’s take a look at each of these competencies in more detail.

Firstly, someone who behaves like an owner, ensures accountability. An owner is accountable for their actions and commitments in addition to accountable for the outcome of the organization. Korn Ferry (2) provides the following skills of someone who is talented at ensuring accountability.

  • An owner, who is accountable, assumes responsibility for the outcomes of theirs and others actions

  • An owner, who is accountable, promotes a sense of urgency in everything they do

  • An owner, who is accountable, will enforce accountability in others

  • An owner, who is accountable, will stay on top of what is going on

  • An owner, who is accountable, provides balanced feedback

Secondly, someone who behaves like an owner radically collaborates with others in order to build partnerships and achieve shared objectives.  Collaboration is also about bringing people together to leverage their skills, talents, and knowledge to achieved a common purpose (Korn Ferry 63). Korn Ferry (64) provides the following skills of someone who is talented at collaborating.

  • An owner, who collaborates effectively, will facilitate open dialog with a wide variety of contributors

  • An owner, who collaborates effectively, will balance their and others interest

  • An owner, who collaborates effectively, will promote high visibility of shared contributions to goals

Thirdly, someone who behaves like an owner needs to be courageous. DevOps Engineers are leaders who are on the front-lines acting as the judge, jury, and executioner and therefore, every thing they do requires them to behave courageously.  Korn Ferry (114) provides the following skills of someone who behaves courageously.

  • An owner, who acts courageously, will tackle difficult issues with optimism and confidence

  • An owner, who acts courageously, will share sensitive messages of unpopular points of view in a motivating manner

  • An owner, who acts courageously, will let people know where they stand

  • An owner, who acts courageously, will volunteer to tackle and lead tough assignments

Finally, to reach full potential requires an owner to instill trust with others in the organization. Gaining the trust of others will make being accountable easier; collaborating better; and gain support for courageous actions. Korn Ferry (428) lists the following skills of someone who is talented at instilling trust in others.

  • An owner, in order to instill trust, honors commitments and keeps confidence

  • An owner, in order to instill trust, expresses themselves in a credible and transparent manner 

  • An owner, in order to instill trust, models high standards of honesty and integrity

I manage a DevOps team and I walked them through this notion of behaving like owners. It resonated well with them as they realized that the decisions they make daily have a material impact on the organization. As a result, the team is holding themselves and others accountable for the outcome of their decisions; collaborating within and outside the organization with more frequency; acting courageously by being bold in design sessions and reviews; and finally, gaining the trust of their peers. In other words, they are engineering cloud solutions as if they own it.

Bibliography:

Korn Ferry. FYI for your improvement. Competencies Development Guide. Korn Ferry 2014.

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