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 meas a lot!).
The training I completed was 100% online and about 95% of it was done through Linux Academy.
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
1.1 Designing a solution infrastructure that meets business requirements. Considerations include:
- business use cases and product strategy
- cost optimization
- supporting the application design
- movement of data
- build, buy or modify
- success measurements (e.g., Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Return on Investment (ROI), metrics)
- Compliance and observability
- Provisioning one or more Stackdriver accounts.
1.2 Designing a solution infrastructure that meets technical requirements. Considerations include:
- high availability and failover design
- elasticity of cloud resources
- scalability to meet growth requirements
1.3 Designing network, storage, and compute resources. Considerations include:
- integration with on premises/multi-cloud environments
- Cloud native networking (VPC, peering, firewalls, container networking)
- identification of data processing pipeline
- matching data characteristics to storage systems
- data flow diagrams
- storage system structure (e.g., Object, File, RDBMS, NoSQL, NewSQL)
- mapping compute needs to platform products
1.4 Creating a migration plan (i.e., documents and architectural diagrams). Considerations include:
- integrating solution with existing systems
- migrating systems and data to support the solution
- licensing mapping
- network and management planning
- testing and proof-of-concept
1.5 Envisioning future solution improvements. Considerations include:
- cloud and technology improvements
- business needs evolution
- evangelism and advocacy
2. Managing and provisioning solution Infrastructure
2.1 Configuring network topologies. Considerations include:
- extending to on-premise (hybrid networking)
- extending to a multi-cloud environment which may include GCP to GCP communication
- data protection
2.2 Configuring individual storage systems. Considerations include:
- data storage allocation
- data processing/compute provisioning
- security and access management
- network configuration for data transfer and latency
- data retention and data lifecycle management
- data growth management
2.3 Configuring compute systems. Considerations include:
- compute system provisioning
- compute volatility configuration (preemptible vs. standard)
- network configuration for compute nodes
- infrastructure provisioning technology configuration (e.g. Chef/Puppet/Ansible/Terraform)
- container orchestration (e.g. Kubernetes)
3. Designing for security and compliance
3.1 Designing for security. Considerations include:
- Identity and Access Management (IAM)
- Resource hierarchy (organizations, folders, projects)
- data security (key management, encryption)
- penetration testing
- Separation of Duties (SoD)
- security controls
- Managing customer-supplied encryption keys with Cloud KMS
3.2 Designing for legal compliance. Considerations include:
- legislation (e.g., Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), etc.)
- audits (including logs)
- certification (e.g., Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework)
4. Analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes
4.1 Analyzing and defining technical processes. Considerations include:
- Software Development Lifecycle Plan (SDLC)
- continuous integration / continuous deployment
- troubleshooting / post mortem analysis culture
- testing and validation
- IT enterprise process (e.g. ITIL)
- business continuity and disaster recovery
4.2 Analyzing and defining business processes. Considerations include:
- 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)
4.3 Developing procedures to test resilience of solution in production (e.g., DiRT and Simian Army)
5. Managing implementation
5.1 Advising development/operation team(s) to ensure successful deployment of the solution. Considerations include:
- application development
- API best practices
- testing frameworks (load/unit/integration)
- data and system migration tooling
5.2 Interacting with Google Cloud using GCP SDK (gcloud, gsutil and bq). Considerations include:
- local installation
- Google Cloud Shell
6. Ensuring solution and operations reliability
6.1 Monitoring/Logging/Alerting solution
6.2 Deployment and release management
6.3 Supporting operational troubleshooting
6.4 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.
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.