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Victor Dantas

Cloud Certifications: GC Professional Cloud Architect

Victor Dantas

  • Jul 13, 2020
  • 10 Min read
  • 806 Views
  • Jul 13, 2020
  • 10 Min read
  • 806 Views
Cloud
Cloud Architecture and Design
Architecture and Design
Google Professional Cloud Architect

Introduction

While Google Cloud’s revenue base is lower than that of Microsoft and Amazon, its growth rate is higher, according to a recent April 2020 analysis by cloudwars.co. Fueling this growth is the rising demand for analytics and Big Data solutions as well as multi-cloud architectures. For this reason, the Google Cloud (GC) Professional Cloud Architect certification, which was launched in 2017, has been in the spotlight lately as a high-paying IT certification, and professionals that earn it represent skilled employees that companies primarily look for when adopting Google Cloud. This guide provides information and resources on the Professional Cloud Architect certification and exam.

Who This Certification Is For

This certification is for professionals who wish to demonstrate their thorough understanding of cloud architecture and GC, as well as their ability to design and develop robust, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.

It is therefore targeted at professionals with the breadth of knowledge of a solutions or enterprise architect with subject matter expertise in GC products and services.

What This Certification Is For

This certification provides value and confidence to both employers and employees by validating and demonstrating an individual's ability to:

  • 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

In today's competitive cloud marketplace, a professional level certification is a key differentiator.

For organizations, this certification counts towards the requirements for becoming a GC Managed Service Provider (MSP) or increasing partnership status.

Applicable Exams

To earn this certification, you need to pass a single exam:

  • Google Cloud - Professional Cloud Architect Certification Exam

This exam is designed to determine only whether or not an individual meets a minimum passing standard. For that reason, you do not receive a score or any feedback after taking the exam (other than whether you passed or failed it).

During the exam, some of the questions may refer you to a case study that describes a fictitious business and solution concept. You can review in advance some sample case studies that may be (and are often) used in the exam at these sites:

Prerequisites

Although it is a professional-level certification, there are no prerequisites for taking the Professional Cloud Architect exam.

It is, however, a comprehensive and technical exam that will require you to have experience and/or have done extensive studies on cloud design and architecture with GC.

Skills Measured

The following skills are within the scope of the exam:

  • Designing and planning a cloud solution architecture
    • Designing a solution infrastructure that meets business requirements
    • Designing a solution infrastructure that meets technical requirements
    • Designing network, storage, and compute resources
    • Creating a migration plan (i.e., documents and architectural diagrams)
    • Envisioning future solution improvements
  • Managing and provisioning a solution Infrastructure
    • Configuring network topologies
    • Configuring individual storage systems
    • Configuring compute systems
  • Designing for security and compliance
    • Designing for security
    • Designing for compliance
    • Analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes
    • Analyzing and defining technical processes
  • Analyzing and defining business processes
    • Developing procedures to ensure resilience of solution in production (e.g., chaos engineering)
  • Managing implementation
    • Advising development/operation team(s) to ensure successful deployment of the solution
    • Interacting with Google Cloud using GC SDK (gcloud, gsutil, and bq)
    • 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

Google states that the exam content can be changed at any time, so refer to the Professional Cloud Certification Exam Guide for the latest content update.

Helpful Resources

Below are some resources to help you prepare for the exam:

  • Professional Cloud Architect Practice Exam: Official practice exam to help you prepare for the kind of questions you will see in the real exam.
  • Google Cloud Training: Google Cloud's training resources, including both virtual and physical classroom options.
  • Google Cloud Free Trial: A sign up page for a free trial of GC that include $300 of usage credit over a period of 12 months. It can be a great way for getting hands-on practice.

Compensation and Employment Outlook

According to a Global Knowledge article on the 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2020 in the United States, a Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect comes out on top for the second year straight with an average income of $175,761.

Top-paying certifications

With growing demand and customer adoption of industry-specific solutions that leverage GC's best-of-breed capabilities, Google Cloud Architects are in high demand in the market, as evidenced by the high average pay of certified GC professionals. In addition, as most IT professionals working with cloud tend to gravitate towards AWS and/or Azure, employers beginning to adopt Google Cloud are struggling to find skilled GC architects, which contributes to the high pay and opportunities presenting themselves at the moment for GC professionals.

Several IT consultancies are also aiming for Google Cloud's Managed Service Provider partnership status, which among other things requires a minimum number of Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect certifications. This is also a factor boosting career prospects for professionals that earn this certification.

The Certification Path

This certification is a professional level Google Cloud certification that represents the role of a cloud architect. Other professional certifications are Professional Data Engineer, Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer, Professional Cloud Network Engineer, Professional Cloud Security Engineer, and Professional Collaboration Engineer.

Since it has no prerequisites and it's also not a prerequisite for any other, this certification stands alone and it's not part of a certification path.

This certification is valid for two years from the date certified. To maintain certification status, you will need to retake the exam.

Conclusion

The demand for Google Cloud architects is on the rise, with the Professional Cloud Architect certification being the highest paying IT certification in 2020, according to one report. With no prerequisites and a single exam to take, albeit a difficult one, there's a low barrier to getting certified, which gives this certification a great ROI. For professionals experienced with Google Cloud and skilled in designing and implementing scalable and highly available cloud architectures using GC, this certification can be a great chance to prove your abilities and give you value and confidence.

Finally, some tips for passing the exam:

  • Take the Performing Foundational Tasks in Google Cloud skill assessment to find out what your current skill level is with GC.
  • Know your Kubernetes. Other cloud providers such as Azure and AWS don't focus so much on container technologies in their exams (at least not nearly as much as Google does). Being one of the key cloud technologies that Google is very well known for (being the ones who developed it), Kubernetes is a huge topic for them, and you should be prepared for some technical and in-depth questions around that.
  • Commit to watching all the videos in the Pluralsight Learning Path: Cloud Architecture with Google Cloud and doing the Practice Exam, even if you have a lot of experience with Google Cloud. Those resources were prepared by Googles and they are really helpful in preparing for the exam.
  • Watch the time and don't take too long to answer questions. The exam's length is two hours, and if you're not careful, it may not be enough. Better to give a half-educated answer to a question (and possibly come back to it later if you have time),than fail to answer all the questions because you ran out of time.

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