You’ve become proficient in a popular cloud platform like AWS, Azure or GCP, and you’re asking yourself, “Should I learn about more than one cloud provider?” After all, your business probably only uses one cloud, so you might be wondering whether it’s worth learning a whole new one.
In this article, I’ll talk about why it can be to your benefit to ramp up on a second (or third!) cloud.
1. Knowing multiple clouds improves your career options
One day, you might find yourself at a different company that uses a different cloud. If you get locked into the mindset that you are, for example, an “Azure specialist” and won’t touch anything AWS, you may find yourself restricting your career options. On the other hand, if you can honestly talk about your skills with all the major clouds, it won’t ever act as a barrier. And if you’re a contractor, it can significantly expand your ability to take contracts.
People who are capable with multiple clouds are rare—and sometimes even referred to as “unicorns” in the hiring market—so this can be a great way to stand out from other applicants.
2. Consulting options become more plentiful
To expand on the first point, if you’re across all the different cloud offerings, you can find it much easier to hire yourself out as a cloud consultant. Consultants with the right skillset can get paid big bucks.
3. You’ll know the right tools for the job
By knowing what’s different between cloud services, you can understand the trade off decisions that would lead you one way or the other. This starts by recognizing where one cloud’s service would be a better fit than another cloud’s. Then you can make informed decisions about which cloud to use or maybe even combine services from multiple clouds (or other individual service vendors).
And even if you don’t wind up using what you think might be the best option because it’s from a different cloud than the one you’re using, knowing what’s available elsewhere can help you guide the vendor on their roadmap with clear competitive feedback. Cloud providers definitely try to keep up with each other, so asking can be better–and sometimes even faster!–than trying to build it yourself.
4. You can speak to people in both worlds
Whether you’re talking to developers, architects, or sysadmins, it helps to be able to speak their language–and that may include multiple clouds. Being aware of the terms and quirks of these cloud services can help you save time and prevent misunderstandings.
5. It makes you more effective in the cloud you’re using
Having an awareness of how other cloud services work makes you more effective in the one you’re primarily working on. This is a general principle or pattern in technology: that understanding different paradigms is valuable to you even if you’re not working in them directly. For example, it’s worth learning about the functional programming paradigm even if you spend your time writing in a programming language that is not purely functional because you can still design parts of your code to take advantage of functional techniques and reap those benefits.
6. If your company wants multicloud, you can do it (reluctantly)
While from an individual learner’s perspective, being multicloud proficient makes a lot of sense, it’s far less often a good idea for an organization to do it–and this is particularly the case when multicloud is a knee-jerk “solution” to the fear of lock in. Organizations can wind up paying a lot more money for a lot less functionality.
However, since there are quite a few organizations that are still interested in going multicloud, you having multicloud ability means that you can jump in to support such an organization with both what they want and what they need.
How hard is it to pick up knowledge of multiple clouds?
It’s not that hard, really! If you already know one cloud, it’s much easier to pick up another. Many things will be very similar, and the differences will stand out and be memorable. It’s much like how learning a second programming language is generally easier than learning the first — there are a lot of shared fundamentals between platforms like AWS, Azure, and GCP, so you won’t be learning everything from scratch.
What’s the best way to become multicloud proficient?
If you’re looking to fill the gaps in your cloud knowledge, the best way is to target and achieve a cloud certification. Each cloud provider has a non-technical, entry-level certification you can take to get started. And when it’s time to dive deeper, you can follow that up by taking progressively more advanced ones, depending on your needs.
If you’re looking to follow this advice, I highly recommend taking advantage of Pluralsight’s Cloud Happy campaign, which will be running until the end of the year. Currently, you can sign up for free certification prep and access courses on AWS, Azure, GCP, Kubernetes and Terraform for free. It’s a perfect way to get introduced to (or brush up on) these services, even if you don’t ever take the exam.