March 07, 2018

My guide for GCP Cloud Architect - Professional certification

GCP CAP A few months ago I visited London’s Google HQ for a Kubernetes Workshop and since then I got more and more interested in Google Cloud Platform and it’s ecosystem; so much in fact that I ( temporarily ) decided to suspend my quest to achieve all AWS certifications and derailed my attention towards another cloud provider.

Last Monday I tried the Architect certification and to my own surprise, I was successful!

To be honest, I am still a little bit in shock for this result (didn’t expect to pass), so I am collecting all this information for other people who may be in the same path, but mostly for me to answer the great question: “How did I do that?”

Impressions

Personally, I didn’t find the exam extremely knowledge-heavy, rather a strong understanding of how everything fits together is required.

Most of the time you will be asked to provide a solution based on what you feel may be the best practice, other times you will be required to do some lateral thinking to solve a problem in the most efficient way.

A better description of this approach would be “Know how to apply DevOps practices on the Cloud”, where the best solution comes from having to adopt the right process and not necessarily by using an existing product, may it be from GCP or a third party.

Exam Format

Around 20 questions are based on 4/5 use cases provided in the exam itself, in a split screen fashion; You will not be asked to work on all of them, rather to focus on 2 o 3 of them! All of those use cases are freely available here, and I suggest to get yourself comfortable with them.

For example, ask yourself: how you’d you move JencoMart database on GCP? What is the best technology and why?

The other questions I found were related to containers, autoscaling, storage options and best practices.

Tips ‘n Tricks

  • Know the differences between the different databases, their use cases and their scopes (especially understand the difference between BigQuery and BigTable).
  • Know your storage classification and why you use them in which case (Multi-Regional, Regional, Nearline and Coldline)
  • Have a strong knowledge of DevOps practices, continuous delivery/integration/testing.
  • Know when to use Compute resources: Instances, App Engine and GKE have very different use cases, with several sub-cases you may want to look into.
  • Have a good overview of networking in GCP, and how VPC, subnets and Zones interlock. Is very useful to have prior knowledge of AWS VPCs.
  • Remember to breathe :). Seriously, take it easy, reread the questions and use your common sense as a guide.

Resources

  • CloudAcademy has a straight-to-the-point GCP Cloud Architect learning path. I strongly suggest this resource, because lessons are short, concise and gives you a great overview of the services.
  • Coursera GCP Fundamentals for AWS Professionals - this is useful if you are already accustomed with AWS infrastructure, and will help you mapping concept from a cloud provider to the others, ESPECIALLY networking.
  • Udemy has 3 set of quiz that mirror exam questions very well; they are not the same, but they will give you a great feeling on how it will pan out.
  • Google Cloud Platform in Action, by Manning. I didn’t find many book so detailed, yet simple to read. Is still in Early Access and content may change in the future, but is still worth a read.
  • GCP: Complete Google Data Engineer and Cloud Architect Guide video series by Packt publishing. Very detailed and complete, I bought it when there was a sale and I have to say it’s well worth the money.

To all of you studying for this exam, good luck!