The cloud is expanding and knowing more than one cloud platform is very important. If you are in the consulting business or your company is considering using multi-cloud services, then knowing more than one cloud will help you to advise your customers and clients in the right direction. This will also advance your career. Based on multiple surveys and different discussions with the board of directors, many companies are considering to evaluate and use a multi-cloud approach where they can consume cloud services from different cloud vendors at the same time.
I decided to expand my cloud skills and explore the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services besides Microsoft Azure. As you already know the top cloud providers in the market are: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a leading public cloud that provides its users with some of the same software, hardware, and networking infrastructure used to power Google services. If you are coming from Azure or AWS world, you will see a lot of similarities in Google Cloud but they have different names across similar services.
Google Cloud certifications validate your expertise and show your ability to transform businesses with Google Cloud technology at a different level. At the time of writing this article, the 8 certifications offered by Google Cloud are the following:
- Associate Cloud Engineer.
- Professional Cloud Architect.
- Professional Data Engineer.
- Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer.
- Professional Cloud Developer.
- Professional Cloud Network Engineer.
- Professional Cloud Security Engineer.
- Professional Collaboration Engineer.
I am so happy and grateful now that I passed the Google Cloud Associate Engineer exam, I figured that I would share my experience in this post to help you prepare and tackle this exam successfully.
What is the Associate Cloud Engineer?
An Associate Cloud Engineer deploys applications, monitors operations, and manages enterprise solutions. This individual is able to use the Google Cloud Console and the command-line interface to perform common platform-based tasks to maintain one or more deployed solutions that leverage Google-managed or self-managed services on Google Cloud.
The Associate Cloud Engineer exam assesses your ability to:
- Set up a cloud solution environment
- Plan and configure a cloud solution
- Deploy and implement a cloud solution
- Ensure the successful operation of a cloud solution
- Configure access and security
The Google Cloud Associate Engineer certification exam is designed to help you understand Google Cloud Platform in-depth so that you can meet the needs of operating resources in Google Cloud. This exam is multiple choice and should be taken in person at a test center. You cannot take this exam online or what is known as a proctored exam using a webcam and microphone.
The total time for this exam is 120 minutes (2 hours) with 50 questions. The registration fee for this exam is $125. This exam was really tough! I completed the exam in 1.5 hours and the system crashed three times during the exam. The global testing center which is provided by KRYTERION and Webassessor are facing some technical issues in recent weeks. I am glad that I was able to finish the exam with only a “PASS” message. As a seasoned test taker with different certifications from a wide range of providers, I was surprised not receiving a scoring report after the exam. Surprisingly, after consulting with Google, I found out that Google doesn’t provide a score at the end of an exam. Instead, it simply issues a “Pass” or “Fail” result, which doesn’t provide much help in terms of knowing where to study if you fail.
The questions do pretty much match the list of skills measured below.
Skills measured on this exam
The Associate Cloud Engineer certification is designed for candidates who create, deploy, and manage enterprise applications and infrastructure in Google Cloud Platform (GCP). An Associate Cloud Engineer is comfortable working with Cloud Console, Cloud Shell, and Cloud SDK. Such individuals also understand products offered as part of GCP and their appropriate use cases.
The following are specific objectives defined by Google at https://cloud.google.com/certification/guides/cloud-engineer/:
- Setting up a cloud solution environment
- Setting up cloud projects and accounts.
- Managing billing configuration.
- Installing and configuring the command-line interface (CLI), specifically the Cloud SDK (e.g., setting the default project).
- Planning and configuring a cloud solution
- Planning and estimating GCP product use using the Pricing Calculator.
- Planning and configuring compute resources.
- Planning and configuring data storage options.
- Planning and configuring network resources.
- Deploying and implementing a cloud solution
- Deploying and implementing Compute Engine resources.
- Deploying and implementing Google Kubernetes Engine resources.
- Deploying and implementing App Engine, Cloud Run, and Cloud Functions resources.
- Deploying and implementing data solutions.
- Deploying and implementing networking resources.
- Deploying a solution using Cloud Marketplace.
- Deploying application infrastructure using Cloud Deployment Manager.
- Ensuring successful operation of a cloud solution
- Managing Compute Engine resources.
- Managing Google Kubernetes Engine resources.
- Managing App Engine and Cloud Run resources. Tasks include:
- Managing storage and database solutions. Tasks include:
- Managing networking resources. Tasks include:
- Monitoring and logging.
- Configuring access and security
- Managing identity and access management (IAM).
- Managing service accounts.
- Viewing audit logs for the project and managed services.
Lessons Learned and Exam Preparation
Practice, practice and read… I cannot stress enough that hands-on experience and understanding all the concepts will help you to pass this exam. The key success to pass this exam is to work with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) on a daily basis for at least 6 months.
Google Cloud certification exams are known for their thoroughness and difficulty, so the importance of preparation and training beforehand cannot be overstated. As I mentioned earlier, the result shown after an exam is simply “Pass” or “Fail.” If you don’t pass, you’re allowed to take the exam again after 14 days. If you fail on the second attempt, then you have to wait 60 days before the next attempt. This is another reason why it’s important to thoroughly prepare really well for the exam.
Based on my experience by taking this exam, you should be familiar with the following topics:
- App Engine.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM).
- Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
- Project Billing.
- Stack Driver (logs and monitoring).
- Cloud storage options.
- Cloud databases.
To prepare for this exam, there are a lot of materials you can go through. In this article, I will list all the available resources so you can choose based on your preferred option.
You can purchase a combination of the following online training video that covers the exam objective for the Associate Cloud Engineer:
- Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer by Linux Academy.
- Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer 2020 by Acloud.guru.
- Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer by Udemy.
- Google Cloud Platform Associate Cloud Engineer Bootcamp by Udemy.
- Preparing for the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Exam by Coursera.
- Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure by Coursera.
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Certification: Associate Cloud Engineer 2020 by Skylinesacademy.
- Google Associate Cloud Engineer Exam Preparation by CloudAcademy.
A Cloud Guru (ACG) has recently acquired Linux Academy in December 2019, they offer a great set of resources to pass any Google Cloud certification including Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.
I highly recommend watching the Cloud Minute for free on YouTube (73 videos).
At the time of this writing, there are 3 books available to help you pass this exam:
- Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide by Dan Sullivan.
- Google Cloud Platform Cookbook by Packt Publishing.
- Google Cloud Platform in action by Manning Publications.
If you wish to validate your skills before taking the real exam, I highly encourage you to purchase the following practice tests:
- Google Associate Cloud Engineer simulation exam by Acloud.guru.
- Google Associate Cloud Engineer Exam by Udemy.
Finally, If you prefer an instructor-led training course, you can find a learning Google Cloud partner here.
If you are planning to take this exam… I wish you all the best and Happy Studying!!!
Thank you for reading my blog.
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.