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The Cloud is More in Demand than Ever: So are the pros who manage it

This feature was produced by Dice.com, and does not reflect the opinions or point of view of Vox Media or Vox Creative. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

The cloud quickly went from new technology to necessary tool. From backing up personal photos, music, and data to large-scale commercial applications, the cloud is an increasingly integral part of the digital landscape.

If the cloud wasn't complicated enough already, many businesses have taken a hybrid approach to their backend infrastructure and services, combining on-premises servers with cloud-based data centers. Whether on the ground or in the cloud, setting up and maintaining servers creates an evolving set of issues for administrators and tech professionals.

Thanks to this growing complexity, "cloud architects" — those who can deploy and maintain the latest tools and infrastructure — are in high demand. Specialists with skills in configuration-management tools such as Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and SaltStack have seen their salaries increase in recent quarters, especially as the unemployment rate in tech has dipped.

On Dice, the premier career website for information technology and engineering specialists, the number of job postings for Puppet professionals increased 63 percent between May 2014 and May 2015. Not surprisingly, this spike in demand has resulted in higher salaries, with Puppet-skilled professionals averaging $172,083 per year, an annual increase of 8 percent.

Pure-Ruby configuration tool Chef enjoyed a similar rise in income and demand over the same period. According to the Dice Salary Survey, the average annual income for tech professionals skilled in Chef was $168,750 in May 2015. That's a six percent increase year-over-year. Chef job postings rose a staggering 67 percent in the past year.

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Jobs in high demand and competitive salaries — sounds good right? It takes more than networking savvy to land one of these jobs: you'll need extensive experience and training. Take Puppet, for example. System administrators and tech pros all over the world use the open-source tool to manage the configuration of both Windows and Unix systems. The Puppet Professional Certification costs $200, and requires a 90-minute computer-based exam with 60 multiple-choice questions; a certified professional needs to understand the ins and outs of the software in exhausting and practical detail, including (for a start) developing basic modules.

Job postings for cloud architects rose 147% on Dice over the past year.

Adapting to changes quickly and seeing the big picture are the greatest skills that any technology professional can develop. As companies rely on a complicated mix of cloud-based and on-premises servers, cloud architects have seen a notable rise in demand, with job postings for the position rising 147 percent on Dice over the past year.

The ability to wield the latest in virtualization and cloud technologies, and negotiate internal processes and procedures with their organizations, makes cloud architects invaluable to companies. Successful ones have a rare mix of technological know-how and soft skills that allow them to speak to humans and computers with equal poise and effectiveness.

With unemployment in the tech world dipping, companies seek the best of the best. If you want to work for them, you'll need to have your skills sharp, your experience broad, and be aware of what's in demand.

This feature was produced by Dice.com, and does not reflect the opinions or point of view of Vox Media or Vox Creative. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.