We talked to Andreas Plueschke, Lead Architect and Manager Architecture, QA/Testing, UX/UI and Mobile & Web Development at Wolters Kluwer, a world leader in developing information solutions and specialised services for professional offices and businesses. Its One Cloud Suite approach gathers all the features of its current services into a single cloud platform.
Andreas, tell us about cloud architecture. How would you explain its main roles? What are the key tasks of a specialist in this digital discipline?
Cloud architecture is about building software which runs on cloud resources.
Cloud architecture is about building software which runs on cloud resources. By “cloud resources” we mean the servers, hard drives and databases which you used to have to own and install on computers and are now being rolled out as services in online infrastructures which you can hire on a pay-per-use basis.
A cloud architect designs these software solutions so that resources in the cloud are used stably, efficiently and effectively. This digital expert combines the traditional roles of a software architect or designer with knowhow about secure use of cloud environments. Their main tasks are to identify needs for new software or modifications to it and then translate these needs into a model which can be programmed to deliver software which can be run across several networks or servers for outstanding performance.
How have you harnessed the potential of cloud infrastructures to drive the One Cloud Suite strategy? What work procedures do you use?
Cloud architecture adds value to any company’s business proposition by reducing time, costs and resources.
Our unification strategy and the a3innuva cloud solutions platform would not be possible without cloud tools. Each of our thousands of customers used to have to install our software on their computers so we could provide them with our services; today, they only need access to a browser. The cloud environment means we can flexibly add and remove resources to match current traffic on the platform and so we can save money and offer a better service/price ratio to our customers. However, this shift has a huge impact in terms of infrastructure because we are now maintaining a platform which will provide access to thousands of customers in parallel.
To align the work of all departments involved, we are using SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) methodology, a framework which enables agile alignment between teams.
What is the biggest challenge posed in its development?
Before we introduced the SAFe methodology, the vast majority of teams focused on implementing new features without paying much heed to the more technical aspects. Today, we have time and space in our regular meetings to present the technological requirements and balance them with other departments. This is where it is crucial to translate the technological language into a language that can be understood by the non-technological areas of the company which take business decisions. All this is part of a cloud architect’s role because they bring together technological expertise and its best application for the business.
In the coming years, how do you think the role of a cloud architect will change to meet the future needs of the market and enterprises?
There are two triggers which will change the cloud architect’s position: firstly, progress in cloud computing technology; and secondly, changes in software development methods. However, there is another, more far-reaching trend which is having a major impact on this digital area: the democratisation of software and content development in and for the cloud. The digital platforms and tools which will emerge will enable any user with even the most basic knowledge to become a developer. However, the cloud architect’s expertise will always be invaluable for implementing more complex systems to help non-professional users.
Finally, what would you say to digital professionals who are thinking of specialising as a cloud architect?
It is one of the digital roles most conducive to applying the most cutting-edge and innovative technology and using it to help the business and society. A first step might be to become a cloud developer; later on and after further learning, I would recommend switching to cloud architecture because it brings a broader and more challenging vision to projects.