This month, I took the Professional Cloud Architect exam. I passed the exam, and I am now Google Cloud Certified. I thought I could share some insights here about the exam preparation, and the exam itself based on my experience. Hopefully this could help you get better prepared, if you plan to get certified.
Getting Prepared – Study Material
Professional Cloud Architect certification is difficult because of all the products/services and quite extensive. But with proper preparation and good hands-on experience you can get through it.
Ok well, where did I start? Before the PCA exam I took the Associate Cloud Engineer certification. The preparation for the ACE helped me a lot with preparing for the PCA certification. Coursera courses and Qwiklabs are a good starting point for your preparation. Courses like “Architecting with Google Compute Engine”, “Kubernetes in the Google Cloud” and hands-on labs “GCP essentials quest”, “Cloud engineering quest” available on Qwiklabs will help you a lot with understanding the Google Cloud Platform and its products/Services to an extent.
The Preparing for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect Exam from coursera and Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect course from LinuxAcademy have created amazing content and is more aligned with real exam content. These training courses will help you a lot with your preparation, especially the case studies section. Along with them the qwiklabs Cloud Architect Quest, Challenge: GCP Architect quest are very good to gets your hands-on on the topics. Unfortunately the yare not free. I would strongly recommend to go for it, if you can afford it. Along with them I also did the following quests Kubernetes, Cloud IAM, GCP essentials. They are important as well. Please go through all the minor details, the commands and notes section from each lab. Type the commands yourself instead of copy/paste, that will help a lot in remembering the command. Do a lots of hands-on, and important thing is while doing the hands-on try to explore all the options and tiny details around the google console.
Along with the above mentioned materials, to get in-depth details about a service/product refer to GCP documentation directly. And more important and easy to understand which product/service to select and when, you could refer to GCP flowcharts. This will help you a lot in understanding the concepts and during the exam as well. Here is a link – https://grumpygrace.dev/posts/gcp-flowcharts/ to GCP flowcharts I found very useful and all at one place. Courstesy: Grace from medium.com.
Finally, don’t forget to take the Practice exam. At the end of the coursera and linux academy courses they have practise exam which is highly recommended. This will give you an idea on how the questions would look like in the real exam. I used to take this exam multiple times, and each time when I get a answer wrong I used to refer to that particular section in the course to understand the concepts better. This way you will get stronger.
About the Exam
The Professional Cloud Architect Certification is mostly a scenario based exam. Maximum number of the questions were, a business problem is described and your task is to find the best possible solutions to address the problem. These business scenarios questions were documented around the three Google Case Studies (Mountkirk, Dress4Win and TerramEarth). I highly recommended to spend time studying and understanding these case studies before the exam. I highly recommend “Linux Academy” course mentioned above for better understanding of the case studies. They have made it easy to identity the business and technical requirements and how you need to analyze them. In the certification exam 20-30% of the questions are on the case studies.
Apart from the case studies focus a lot on networking concepts (especially firewalls, load balancers, Interconnects, Cloud VPN), Storage options (when to choose which storage), transfer services (moving on-premise data to cloud), BigQuery and BigTable (for analytics, difference between them, when to choose which), IAM roles (primitive vs predefined), GCE (standard VMs vs preemtible VMs), Local SSD vs Persistent Disks, Images vs snapshots, data streaming and processing concepts (cloud pub/sub, dataflow, dataprep). Make sure you know the tradeoffs of these topics. Again questions around these topics are all scenario-based. So you have to have good understand about the topic and also some hands-on as well.
You have 2hrs to answer 50 questions. Its a challenging one, believe me 2hrs you ll feel very short at times. As I said its scenario based questions, they are huge and the options are also huge, so you have to read understand the question first, and then read every option and then answer it. You have to be really quick here. I would highly recommend sparing atleast 30-40mins for reviewing all your answers.
After submitting the exam, you will get your result just either Pass or Fail. There wont be any percentage or score displayed. Once you pass the exam the official certificate will be sent by google in couple of days
Said that, I wish Good luck with the preparation!
Link to QwikLabs:
Certification info page from google- https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-architect
Author: Aravind Kumar is a Google Certified Cloud Architect and you can find him on LinkedIn here.