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Ernesto Lopez
Ernesto Lopez

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My recommendations to approve Google Associate Cloud Engineer and Professional Cloud Architect certifications in 60 days

As a brief introduction, i will let you the links to the certifications so you can start thinking about the first recommendation:

Base on the previous list, my first advice is to find two certifications that are closely related, this way you can use the study from the first one as a base for the second one.

NOTE: This is my personal experience, i came from working with AWS and Oracle cloud from several years so i have strong knowledge in cloud computing. Experience is important but it is not all.

ANOTHER NOTE: Google Cloud manage some services in a different way so from time to time you need to forget about waht things are done on AWS or another cloud provider.

Start point > Base knowledge

Here i have two recommendations, if you came from AWS for example of from Azure, on Pluralsight there are two courses that provide a translation to Google Cloud services:

These trainings allow you to map the services that you know with the services on Google Cloud, and to identify the important differences. In my case was very useful for IAM and Storage area.

NEXT, we well keep ourself on Pluralsight, there are Certifications Paths created by Google Cloud, so let me emphasize this, the certifications trainings are created by Google itself.

  • For Associate Cloud Engineer start with this path:

  • For Professional Cloud Architect start with this path:

  • of video content and maybe another 20 hours for labs. The advantage with this one is taht it has some trainings from the previous path so you do not need need to view the courses again.

    So, if both path share most of the trainings why should a present two different certifications?

    Well, the short answer is yo do not need to present both, but it will give you a different set of skills.

  • For example under ACE beside services and base architecture usage you are tested on hands on activities, specially on CLI, this knowledge is base for cloud administration and for other certifications.

  • While on PCA you are tested on architecting solutions for specific business needs, and less on CLI commandos or process to configure managed services. Example: you will be tested about when to use certain load balancer but not how to configure it.

    OKOK got it, but why Pluralsight?

    Well for trainings yu have several options: Pluralsight, Coursera, A Cloud Guru, etc. Why i choose pluralsight? because the trainings are created by google itself and are updated once a year and in some cases twice a year, so you will have updated content for your certifications.

    Extra recommenation for base knowledge.

    After i passed the ACE exam a beautiful book was released
    Visualizing Google Cloud: 101 Illustrated References for Cloud Engineers and Architects from Priyanka Vergadia
    The most amazing from this book is that is separated by vertical, example storage, compute, etc and provides you with a graphical way of mapping Google Cloud services and then a brief explanation of each one, ending each chapter with some use cases for those services previously explained.
    I use this book from time to time to prepare some presentation for a customer so it is recommended.

Practice, Practice, Practice - Read, Read, Read

You need to get in touch with the Google cloud console, Google provide you with a 300 USD free credits for new customer, so you can create your account and start testing and playing.

Also, you can create an account for CloudSkillboost (Qwiklabs)

  • You can find hundred of guided labs, with durations from 30 min to 2 hours ,some are free and some will cost you a certain amount of credits.
  • Labs are grouped on path so you can go specifically to the ACE or PCA paths.
  • Infrastructure is created for you at the begining each lab so you do not need to worry about spending your Google Cloud credits. And it is destroyed when you end the lab, so do not store anything on it.

Specially for ACE test you need to practice, get confident configuring each services and read the documentation from the Console, sometimes it provides you with informatiion that is asked during the test

console documentation
This is an example of documentation from the console when creating a cloud run service

Ok practice a lot, got it, but why do i need to read?

Read is one of the activities that i enjoy the most, but is is a personal choice, the fact is that i study from the official learning guides and it helped me a lot to understand certain examples and architectures, so let see what are the guides for each exam:

  • For Associate Cloud Engineer:
    • Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guidefrom Dan Sullivan
    • This Guide is from 2019, it hasn't been updated BUT as my best understanding it does not need to be updated, you can find example configuration from CLI that are the same right now.
    • The book is around 500 pages long, but like 20 to 25% of the book are images from cloud console or diagrams.
    • It is for sure that you find variations between images and current Console configuration but you can take advantage of this book from the explanations and practice questions.
    • Language is easy to follow and the explanations are concise and direct to the point.
    • The books is dividied in chapters by services, and it excels on showing specific use cases for each service and guide you to select the best option for a requirement.
  • For Professional Cloud Architect:
    • Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect Study Guidefrom Dan Sullivan
    • IMPORTANT there are 2 guides on Amazon, the one from 2019 and the new one from April 2022. Buy the new one, Professional Architect exam includes 4 study cases and the 2022 version has the new study cases so this will help you with the current version of the test.
    • This book is around 300 pages long, and only like 2% are graphics so this is heavy reading.
    • Explanations are simple to understand and include real scenarios use cases.
    • The mos useful aspects of this Guide are:
      • There are 2 chapters where Dan explain the use cases and posible analysis to understand requirements, very useful for the test.
      • There is a chapter for Software development process.
      • There is a chapter for Compliance certifications, so if you have experience with compliance you can skip it.
      • Review question has some use case similar to the ones from the test.
      • There is little to nothing about configuration or commands son if you want more on that review the ACE Guide. This guide is base on the current exam so you can use this book as **a blueprint* and look other sources to dive deeper on the concepts presented here.

2 weeks previous the test date

The aspect exposed previously were for learning the basics, getting involved and confident with services and configuration and acquiring deep knowledg for each one.

In my Experience, the week or ween and a half previous to the exam, you need a different type of course. You need a course that has all included and also that provides you with some tips to remember during the test.
Looking for this type of trainings i found an exceptional course for each exam:

  • For Associate Cloud Engineer:
    • GCP Associate Cloud Engineer - Google Cloud Certification from In28Minutes
    • This training is about 17 hours, but includes all the subjects needed for the exam.
    • There are several lectures with command example and also include code examples so you can test it yourself.
    • The training does not just focus on the exam, it also provide examples and configuration for a standard day to day job.
    • Under this training i found tips that were not available on the official guide and under the Pluralsight courses. In28Minutes ACE
  • For Professional Cloud Architect:
    • GCP Professional Cloud Architect: Google Cloud Certification from In28Minutes
    • The training is about 20 hours of content, it includes some videos from the ACE course but the majority are PCA focused.
    • There is a chapter to review the new case studies, this is gold.
    • On the Exam there are questions about SREs, Agile, DevOps cuture. And this training has videos for all of that. In28minutes PCA

During the Test

I am going to talk a little about my experience with each exam.

NOTE i am not going to talk about the process to login remote proctored or in place, just my experience during the test.

  • For Associate Cloud Engineer:

    • 50 Questions in 2 hours, i finished in 1 hour and 15 min.
    • Questions were more related to configuration oiptions, selecting a product over another, CLI commands.
    • On my test there were heavy focus on storage and database options, so take special care about BigQuery configuration or databases selection.
    • This test will not ask anything as specific as : tell me with compute instance type have 16 VCPUs or what is the limit of pods in a cluster, but you need to know tha limitations because it can affect the service selection for the answer.
    • The questions are short, the explanation of the cases or requirements are simple. take special attention of the requirements and the things that the client does not want under the configuration.
  • For Professional Cloud Architect:

    • 50 Questions in 2 hours, i completed the test in 1 hour and 51 minutes.
    • Know the use cases before presenting, this will help you to prevent spending time reading the use cases. study cases here
    • In my test there were 2 cases from the 4 available, and around 14 questions about cases.
    • Questions in this exam are long, because they are explaining the business and technical requirements so be prepare to read a lot. By the end of the test i felt tired and needed to re read questions.
    • Take special care of business requirements, technical requirements can be met with different products but business requirements are the one that define the correct answer. Remember ARCHITECT test is more focus on Business.
    • You can access the study cases at any time during the test.
    • try not to loose time on questions, if you spend more than 5 min in a question it is better to move to the next one.

What else?

Well other recommendations are:

  • You can read some tips and key notes from this repo(WIP)
  • Visit the Google cloud reference architecture Center : here you can find architecture examples, blueprints, and use cases,
  • Read the blogs from medium, specially the ones written in Google Cloud community, somo of this provide real world scenarios and configurations --> HERE
  • Commit to study everyday, this will help to retain concepts and easier the process. the week before the test i spent around 4 to 5 hours a day studying so be prepare for this marathon.

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