How I trained to become a Google Cloud Certified – Professional Cloud Architect

How I trained for my GCP Cert, and how I found the exam.

Read Time5 Minutes, 38 Seconds

I’m going to make this blog post straight to the point, rather than telling you about my life story and how much this cert means to me (It means a lot!).

Online Course

The training I completed was 100% online and about 95% of it was done through www.linuxacademy.com.

The course there is called Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect.

This course is hands down the best course I used to study for my exam. It teaches you everything you need to know from end to end, and it’s taught in a way that’s easy to understand.

This course is listed as an advanced course, but if you take it slow and make notes as you go this course will be a massive help for getting your GCP cert as they also have a mock exam at the end of this course which is based off the real exam, some of these questions are almost 1:1 with the real exam questions!

Here is a breakdown on what the exam is based around:

1. Designing and planning a cloud solution architecture

  • Business use cases and product strategy
  • Cost optimization
  • Supporting the application design
  • Integration with external systems
  • Movement of data
  • Design decision trade-offs
  • Build, buy, or modify
  • Success measurements (e.g., key performance indicators [KPI], return on investment [ROI], metrics)
  • Compliance and observability
  • High availability and failover design
  • Elasticity of cloud resources
  • Scalability to meet growth requirements
  • Performance and latency
  • Integration with on-premises/multi-cloud environments
  • Cloud-native networking (VPC, peering, firewalls, container networking)
  • Choosing data processing technologies
  • Choosing appropriate storage types (e.g., object, file, RDBMS, NoSQL, NewSQL)
  • Choosing compute resources (e.g., preemptible, custom machine type, specialized workload)
  • Mapping compute needs to platform products
  • Integrating solution with existing systems
  • Migrating systems and data to support the solution
  • Licensing mapping
  • Network planning
  • Testing and proof of concept
  • Dependency management planning
  • Cloud and technology improvements
  • Business needs evolution
  • Evangelism and advocacy

2. Managing and provisioning a solution Infrastructure

  • Extending to on-premises (hybrid networking)
  • Extending to a multi-cloud environment that may include GCP to GCP communication
  • Security and data protection
  • Data storage allocation
  • Data processing/compute provisioning
  • Security and access management
  • Network configuration for data transfer and latency
  • Data retention and data life cycle management
  • Data growth management
  • Compute system provisioning
  • Compute volatility configuration (preemptible vs. standard)
  • Network configuration for compute nodes
  • Infrastructure provisioning technology configuration (e.g. Chef/Puppet/Ansible/Terraform/Deployment Manager)
  • Container orchestration with Kubernetes

3. Designing for security and compliance

  • Identity and access management (IAM)
  • Resource hierarchy (organizations, folders, projects)
  • Data security (key management, encryption)
  • Penetration testing
  • Separation of duties (SoD)
  • Security controls (e.g., auditing, VPC Service Controls, organization policy)
  • Managing customer-managed encryption keys with Cloud KMS
  • Legislation (e.g., health record privacy, children’s privacy, data privacy, and ownership)
  • Commercial (e.g., sensitive data such as credit card information handling, personally identifiable information [PII])
  • Industry certifications (e.g., SOC 2)
  • Audits (including logs)

4. Analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes

  • Software development life cycle plan (SDLC)
  • Continuous integration / continuous deployment
  • Troubleshooting / post mortem analysis culture
  • Testing and validation
  • Service catalog and provisioning
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Stakeholder management (e.g. influencing and facilitation)
  • Change management
  • Team assessment / skills readiness
  • Decision-making process
  • Customer success management
  • Cost optimization / resource optimization (capex / opex)

5. Managing implementation

  • Application development
  • API best practices
  • Testing frameworks (load/unit/integration)
  • Data and system migration tooling
  • Local installation
  • Google Cloud Shell

6. Ensuring solution and operations reliability

  • Monitoring/logging/profiling/alerting solution
  • Deployment and release management
  • Assisting with the support of solutions in operation
  • Evaluating quality control measures

Sample Case Studies

During the exam for the Cloud Architect Certification, some of the questions may refer you to a case study that describes a fictitious business and solution concept. These case studies are intended to provide additional context to help you choose your answer(s). Review some sample case studies that may be used in the exam.

https://cloud.google.com/certification/guides/cloud-architect/casestudy-mountkirkgames-rev2

https://cloud.google.com/certification/guides/cloud-architect/casestudy-dress4win-rev2

https://cloud.google.com/certification/guides/cloud-architect/casestudy-terramearth-rev2

Source

FAQ

Do I need to be working in IT to sit this cert?

No, you can sit this cert when ever but there is a cost of $200 USD

Do I need to have used Google Cloud to be able to pass the Cert?

Yes, but the course mentioned above will give you hands on experience with GCP and get you up to speed.

Is there any free online training I can do instead?

The thing with online training that’s free is that there is a reason it’s free. There is an exam dump floating around at the moment with a lot of incorrect answers that these free online tests use.

How do I know i’m ready to sit the exam?

Complete the Linux Academy practice exam until you are getting 90% or higher, as well as completing the online Google course. When you are passing these without using your notes then you should be ready to give the exam a go.

How long did you study for before taking the exam?

I studied for nearly 2 months and took the practice exams roughly 15 times before I was happy to sit the exam.

What is the pass grade?

When you submit your exam you get either a pass or fail and you don’t get a score at the end on what you got right or wrong. Google do this because they say you are either good enough to be certified or you’re not, and if you are then you are no better than any other certified person.

What was the exam like?

The exam is difficult and there is no way you can study for a week and go sit it. This exam goes into everything you learn from the Linux Academy course, but the main things you need to pay attention to is the following;

  • Understand the case studies and know what solutions they need.
  • Understand VPNs and the speeds vs Direct Connect.
  • DR and Migrating on-prem to GCP
  • IAM permissions and best practices

I also want to note that the questions are worded in ways that several answers may seem correct but there will be a couple of words that are different, so make sure you read every question as this can trip you up.

Also note that some answers may seem like the correct answer over another but if it’s for a case study you need to understand that every case study have their specific needs. Such as using instance groups over Kubernetes etc.

The exam may be a shock when you first read the questions, but just take your time, skip a question if you don’t know it and then come back to it after. You have 2 hours.

I completed the exam in 35 minutes, and then used the rest of the time to go back and read each question and changed any questions I suspected was wrong, and there were a few I made changes to.

If there are any more questions you have feel free to leave a question below and I’ll get to them ASAP.

Nick.

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