Having recently passed the Google Cloud Certified – Professional Cloud Architect exam, I want to share my experience with you along with some relevant resources and content that helped me along the way.
Get Google certified! The Cloud Architect exam is tough but this article provides some tips, tricks and resources to help you succeed. The two main things to be aware of for the exam are the increased focus on big data (when compared to other cloud architect exams I have taken) and the subtle wording in the questions that needs to be considered to choose the right answer out of more than one technically suitable solution. If you have the time, read on.
Why should you take the Professional Cloud Architect exam?
Aside from the fact that it is a great personal development opportunity that comes with prestige and demonstrates in-demand knowledge of one of the fastest growing public cloud platforms, I think you will find Google Cloud Platform a joy to use and learn. The use of projects in an organisation, for example, is a neat feature that helps organise resources, delegate access permissions and control costs.
The Professional Cloud Architect certification demonstrates that you have a thorough understanding of cloud architecture and GCP, that you can design and manage robust, secure, scalable and highly available solutions. Sounds cool, right?!
The exam covers all the main topics from networking, identity and access management (IAM) through to big data services and concepts such as the software development lifecycle. It focuses on the most appropriate solution for a given scenario such as ‘the most cost effective’ or ‘the least downtime.’ Some of this may sound daunting but don’t worry! I have you covered with training and preparation recommendations.
If all that isn’t enough, when you pass the exam you get the choice of a free hoodie, sweater or backpack from the Google certified online store!
What are the exam requirements?
Per the official exam guide:
- Design and plan a cloud solution architecture
- Manage and provision the cloud solution infrastructure
- Design for security and compliance
- Analyse and optimize technical and business processes
- Manage implementations of cloud architecture
- Ensure solution and operations reliability
How is the exam in practice?
Tricky to say the least! The exam did a good job of testing all topics from the official guide. There was a focus on big data topics in my exam, which is one of my weaker subjects. Thank you to Matthew Ulasien and Linux Academy for the great course that prepared me with enough knowledge to get through these sections.
Make sure you read through the case studies ahead of time. I found that already being familiar with the cases made me much more comfortable when answering those questions and inevitably saved valuable time. There are four possible case studies and I experienced questions from three of them. They are published by Google here:
Tip: TerramEarth is a beast!
For those of you who have taken a AWS Professional Level certification – one of the stress factors for the exam is that time is tight. The GCP exam is a smaller allotment of questions at 50 and I found 2 hours left me with 15 minutes at the end to go over marked questions.
Be aware of the wording such as “the most cost effective” or “next year they plan to” as these remarks shape the best answer for a given scenario out of more than one technically correct answer.
Resources that helped me prepare for the exam
Online self-paced training:
- Linux Academy – Matthew Ulasien’s 3 part course on Linux Academy was my ‘go to’ resource in preparing for the exam, it covers everything you need to know from cloud computing basics through to the more advanced GCP topics
- Coursera – The GCP for AWS Professionals course is a good high-level course to get AWS professionals familiar with GCP – for me it gave an overview but not comprehensive enough for the exam and not required if taking all 3 parts of the Linux Academy course
Documentation and other reference resources:
- GCP in 4 words or less – great for getting a 4 word or less description of all GCP services
- GCP Solutions – Google resource detailing the right solutions to help you solve business challenges
- https://gcp.solutions – Google maintained resource containing lots of useful flow charts and diagrams
Other blogs (that also have lots of useful resources linked):
- Richard Bennett’s blog on Cloud Reach’s website – lots of useful resources linked along with Richard’s tips and tricks
- Earl Gay’s blog on Medium – great resource containing links to lots of detailed subject matter
Exam techniques and preparation
Remembering two key things always helps me answer the trickiest questions on multiple choice exams. Narrowing down to the least wrong answer for the questions I really feel I don’t know the ‘right’ answer. Reading and re-reading questions so weed out the nuances as mentioned earlier in this article. Make sure you take note of the “most cost effective” type questions as that style is particularly evident in this exam.
Some questions to ask yourself before taking the exam:
- Can you explain how to build a flow for an ETL data set and use the correct GCP services? How does that differ for streaming and batch jobs?
- Could you have a conversation with another GCP architect about the various different services and explain their use case?
- Can you design an auto-scaling and fault tolerant solution using the different compute services that GCP offers? App engine, compute engine, container engine?
- Do you know how to migrate data from an on premises data centre to GCP? How about from another public cloud provider?
I wish you good luck with the exam. I hope this write up helps with your preparations. As always, get in touch if you would like any more specific advice or to talk tech in general!