The cloud is no longer just a white, fluffy chunk of condensation floating around the sky. At the very least, computer-users know the cloud is where their files are stored.  That’s true, of course, but there is much more to the cloud.  In fact, there’s so much more to the cloud it needs a Cloud Operations Engineer to keep it running smoothly.  And, you need to find and hire one.

The first thing you need to know is that cloud operation engineers are in great demand. That makes them both hard to find and, when found, difficult to recruit. You need to understand their personality and have at least ground-level knowledge of the challenges they face daily.

There’s no need to turn to eBay or Craigslist to hunt for cloud operation engineers.  In what spare time they have, they hang out in such esoteric forums as Spiceworks’ Cloud Computing & SaaS, Microsoft’s Technet Forum and Cloud Computing Forums by Tom’s Hardware.  They might also be found in Server Fault and Web Apps communities.

The main attraction to such forums is code. There’s code and more code.  Code certainly is what attracts the engineers, and, after reading through a few lines of thread, also counts as your first insight into their challenges. An additional advantage to you — the recruiter– is learning the technology trends and current topics that are of interest to cloud engineers.  A little knowledge picked up in such environments is essential when it’s interview time with one of your prospects. Asking questions about which you know the answers is an important interview tool.

While forums give you a start in grasping the cloud engineer’s responsibilities, it’s good to know and be able to discuss such specific risks as outsourcing essential services to a third party. Configuring traditional web applications to work on the cloud is another common challenge. Applications developed in the cloud need to be run through a legacy system to verify you can’t copy onto a cloud service.

Another challenge to an operations engineer is the incredibly high cost of bandwidth necessary for delivering and receiving intricate data over the network. Sufficient bandwidth comes at a cost.

Knowing where to find cloud operations engineers, understanding them, and having a basic knowledge of their work is a good start to successful hiring.