Google Professional Cloud Architect (PCA) is one of the most lucrative certification in today’s times. Preparing for the certification can be an overwhelming task for working professionals as they need to juggle between work and study and many of them struggle to find the balance while on the new learning path.
This article shows a simple six step formula that I followed to achieve the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – PCA certification in February 2022. My journey with GCP learning started with completing Google Cloud Platform – Associate Cloud Engineer (ACE) in 2020. The ACE is a solid foundation course to get an understanding on how GCP products and services work. Taking the ACE course is a first step towards any other GCP certifications specific to your job roles.
Irrespective of whichever certifications to go for, I have created a six-steps study formula which will help new learners to effectively follow the learning path and guarantee their success without much exhaustion or stress. I recommend planning the study in a time-boxed manner for up to 3 months for working professionals keeping 15 hours per week allocated to this learning activity.
What is role of Google Cloud Architect?
As an architect, you are required to have knowledge on at least 40 to 50 GCP products or services out of total 200+ products offered by Google. In the job role, an architect provides solutions to business use cases by fitting multiple GCP products/services together in most effective manner. This requires in-depth knowledge of the products as well as the industry best practices. e.g. how serverless technology can be leveraged for client’s benefit using Cloud Functions or PaSS solution using App Engine.
At high level, Google Cloud Architect certification exam assesses our knowledge based on below topics:
- Design and plan a cloud solution architecture
- Manage and provision the cloud solution infrastructure
- Design for security and compliance
- Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
- Manage implementations of cloud architecture
- Ensure solution and operations reliability
Here is the Six steps Journey to GCP Cloud Architect certification.
1. Join the GCP Learning Groups
I was lucky to get into cohort-based online learning groups in my office itself. It is a collaborative style group learning experience where the faculty shares the curriculum at the start of the program and all participants follow the same weekly assignments. Such a group study program follows a well planned structure, encourages collaboration, support from peers, topic discussions help to get new perspectives and offers networking opportunities as well. A ‘Leaderboard’ shows the progress of the participants over the course duration which also creates a competitive environment and keeps up the motivation of all learners.
Other than office networks, we can also find many learning groups in social media via, facebook, Linkedin groups etc.
We also have self-paced online learning modules but I found it hard to keep up with the self commitment over a longer period of time with self-study. So I prefer the group based program simply as it drives our learning in a more effective manner.
2. Qwiklabs for hands-on practice
When we read documents or watch the videos, we ‘know’ the subject. But when we Do, we ‘understand’ how things actually work in GCP. ‘Qwiklabs’ is an excellent way to get hands-on experience on our new skills in a real Google cloud environment. It gives access to ‘Cloud Shell’ and ‘Cloud admin Console’ to interact with GCP products. The curriculum for PCA certification has few recommended hands-on labs for practice which are as listed below:
- Create and Manage Cloud Resources
- Perform Foundational Infrastructure Tasks in Google Cloud
- Set Up and Configure a Cloud Environment in Google Cloud
- Deploy and Manage Cloud Environments with Google Cloud
- Automating Infrastructure on Google Cloud with Terraform
- Optimize Costs for Google Kubernetes Engine
3. Video courses
- I followed the Pluralsight videos for ‘‘GCP architect certification path’’ which covered all the topics from fundamentals to advanced and also on preparation for the actual exam.
- The Udemy course by Ranga Karanam is a much detailed course and recommended one.
- Few youTube Channels are very helpful as well.
4. GCP Documentation
The GCP documentation is very essential to refer while working on case studies and before taking the actual examination. This is the best way to revise our understanding of the advanced concepts, best practices/recommendations from Google. I usually found a few learning gaps while practicing Q&A for the exam, so referring to the documentation was the way to close the gaps.
5. Case Studies
We need to be prepared with four case study solutions prior to the PCA certification examination. We can expect at least 10 questions on any two case studies in the exam. The current sample case studies are:
The idea here is to ‘Think Through’ the solution yourself. So I recommend allowing you sufficient time to design the solution. I implemented a solution of each of these case studies and created an architecture diagram of the solution mapping the relevant GCP services applicable to each scenario. Completing this task allowed me to understand and translate the company overview, solution concept, business requirements, technical requirements and executive statement into an architectural solution aligning GCP services integration to a hybrid cloud environment and interaction with end users of the solution.
6. Practice Tests
Practicing Q&A is an important step to get your brain into an examination mode. All the exam questions are scenario based. Some common sample questions examples are:
- What would be best Object Lifecycle policy for a company to reduce cost while storing the data in Google Cloud Storage?
- How to find out idle Virtual Machines in the cluster?
- How to use a Layer 4 (TCP) Load Balancer and Google Compute Engine VMs in a Managed Instances Group (MIG),
- Use cases for Cloud Big Table, Cloud Dataflow, Cloud DataProc, Cloud Datastore, Cloud Datalab, Cloud SQL, Dataflow
In MCQ style exam, often all the options look correct at first but we need to think and eliminate other options to choose the best answer. We need to choose the correct answers based on Google recommended best practices.
There are official practice questions from GCP Professional Cloud Architect that I completed to assess my readiness for the exam. Please be aware that there are a lot of practice questions online from resources like Udemy, ExamTopics. Some of these questions contain incorrect answers that might confuse some people preparing for the certification exam. Always validate the answers with the knowledge gained through your study.
- TIP: For the questions that you are not sure about, you can mark the question and you can review them at the end. There are usually two answers that are clearly wrong and it leaves you with 2 options to select. Reading the question again for key words will usually help you to choose the right answer.
- Professional Cloud Architect – Certification Exam Guide
- About the exam: Exam Duration: 2 hours to complete 50 multiple choice questions.
- Checkout 200+ practice exam questions here – Google Professional Cloud Architect Certification – Practice Exam
- Google Cloud Skills Boost : Cloud Architect Learning Path
- Follow Twitter handle #Qwiklbs to get free monthly access to practice quests & labs.
- Book: Official Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect – Study Guide – Dan Sullivan. Note this book is 2 year old publication. Some of the topics are not updated in the book. So please check the user reviews before purchasing.
- Book: Professional Cloud Architect Google Cloud Certification Guide: Build a solid foundation in Google Cloud Platform to achieve the most lucrative IT certification, 2nd Edition [Dec 2021 update] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Professional-Cloud-Architect-Google-Certification/dp/1801812292/
- Google Cloud Free Tier: GCP Free Tier – Free Extended Trials and Always Free | Google Cloud
- Google Cloud Documentation: Documentation | Google Cloud Industry solutions
- Cloud Architecture Centre
- Google PCA Practice Exam: Professional Cloud Architect
- Google Cloud Developer Cheat Sheet: https://github.com/priyankavergadia/google-cloud-4-words
- #GCPSketchnote : https://thecloudgirl.dev/
Hope all the steps and resources help you in Google certification journey. All the best !!!
Written exclusively for ReviewNPrep.com
– By Manoj P. (Connect with me on LinkedIn).