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Andrew May for Leading EDJE

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GCP Cloud Digital Leader, a certification in search of an identity

I recently took and passed the exam for the new GCP Cloud Digital Leader certification, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts.

The certification is the first "Foundation" Level certification for GCP, but it seems to sit there uneasily.

Similar Certifications

I've previously taken both the AWS Cloud Practitioner and Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certifications (along with a bunch of other AWS certs), and these both provide fairly easy introductions to cloud concepts and a high level overview of the core services in the platform.

Digital Leader?

The name of the certification seems to be an indication of the aspirations Google had for this new certification, and the training material they provide makes it seem that the certification is squarely aimed at decision makers who are considering moving to the cloud but either need convincing, or need ammunition to convince others.

The four training courses in their learning path are titled:

  • Introduction to Digital Transformation with Google Cloud
  • Innovating with Data and Google Cloud
  • Infrastructure and Application Modernization with Google Cloud
  • Understanding Google Cloud Security and Operations

The courses take about 8-10 hours to go through and have a number of simple tests at the end of sections. In the videos you'll hear a lot of reasons for why you should move to the Cloud, and GCP in particular, but you'll learn practically nothing about the individual services available in GCP. Some of the services are mentioned by name, but with no detail - for example Cloud SQL gets a mention, but no details about which RDBMS engines it supports.

The 10 practice test questions they provide might lead you to think these videos have prepared you reasonably well for the exam, as they ask you to chose between adding resources in your datacenter or creating them in a "public cloud platform" (wink, wink, we mean GCP).

Hint: the answer is always moving to the cloud!

There are actually a number of these types of questions in the exam, but it feels like they got part way and then realized they had nowhere near enough questions of that type to create a certification.

Many of the other questions are of a more traditional foundation style, expecting you to select the right service to meet a particular use case. It does seem like they expect you to know every service in GCP unlike the AWS and Azure certs, but at least there are a lot less services in GCP.

Then there are questions that feel like they were pulled from an Associate Architect exam that doesn't exist, that require you to have a bit deeper understanding of how to select services, or configure IAM etc. The addition of these questions makes the exam feel more difficult as a whole than the other foundation certs, and had me doubting myself a few times.

Preparation

A group of us at Leading EDJE all decided to get this certification, so we watched the provided videos together. Fortunately before diving headlong into the exam, we did some research and found some reviews of the beta exam that made us realize we were not yet prepared.

There isn't a lot of third party training available yet because it's such a new certification. I ended up using the ExamPro training course that includes 5.5 hours of videos and practice questions that are designed to be closer to the real exam.

I also spent some time reading my Associate Cloud Engineer Study guide that I bought a while ago but never got around to using.

After that I felt pretty prepared for the exam and went ahead and booked it to take a few hours after I finished going through the ExamPro course.

The exam

GCP uses Webassessor/Kryterion for their exams, and while the process was similar for a remotely proctored exam was similar to the companies used for AWS and Azure tests, the actual pre-exam screening was made significantly more difficult because you can't use your phone to take pictures of the room and have to use your webcam - so there was a lot of trying to scan the room (and under the table) using my laptop, and in a few cases (like verifying my id) I had to take a photo with my phone, zoom in and then hold it up to my webcam.

The actual exam software and type of question was similar to the AWS Cloud Practitioner, multiple choice questions most with a single answer - none of the variety of question styles that the Azure Fundamentals exam uses. As with AWS, they ask you to take a questionnaire before telling you if you passed or failed.

Currently I just know I've passed, I'm still waiting on the official email from Google.

Some of the questions were very straightforward and I answered in seconds, others I wasn't entirely sure about. I answered all the questions in about 30 of the allotted 90 minutes.

Summing up

If you are a decision maker trying to decide whether to move to the Cloud or not, the provided GCP training videos may be of use, but I'm not convinced studying for the certification exam itself will be a great deal of use.

If you already know you're going to be using GCP, and want to learn more about the platform, then the provided training is of little use and you're probably better served by studying for the Associate Cloud Engineer certification.

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