3 Things You Should Know to Pass the Google Cloud Architect Certification Exam09 Mar, 2021 Read Time: 12 Minutes
Encompassing cloud architecture and infrastructure, the Professional Cloud Architect exam covers a range of topics - from design and planning, analysis and optimisation to security and compliance. As the highest paying certification of 2020 and 2019*, it’s a popular choice with many as a first choice Google Cloud platform certification. We talk to the owner of 9 GCP certifications Dr. Nabil Hadj-Ahmed, Director of Training (Google Cloud) to get the lowdown on how to ace it like a pro.
It’s a great place to start with GCP.
Google Cloud Architect was the first Google exam I took. The exam is 50 multiple choice and multiple select questions covering a range of GCP topics - I remember a lot of preparation and studying during evenings and weekends.
I recently retook Cloud Architect in November 2020 - as it was a recertification, it’d been two years since I’d last reviewed the course content or put my working knowledge to the test.
As a Google Cloud authorised trainer, I’m all too familiar with the Google Cloud platform - the methodologies, regularly updated practices and technologies - but you have to lead by example! Keeping up to date is crucial.
I found the recertification wasn’t as much prep as the initial exam, but there were still new areas to focus on and study for. I have 9 GCP certifications, but this is one I recommend most to delegates. It’s a game changer.
My best tip? Sign up for the Google Cloud free $300 trial & use Qwiklabs.
The Qwiklabs environment allows you to perform more varied practical work outside of studying (cough, Kubernetes… cough cough) so make sure you create your own trial on Google Cloud and play! It’s a great way to get familiar with the entire GCP concept and an essential for the Google Cloud Architect exam.
Once your trial is up, I recommend taking up a full subscription so you can get to know your way around every aspect of cloud technologies and the GCP platform. The major benefit of using Qwiklabs and Google Cloud over just a trial subscription is that you’ll be given a task and a rationale as to why you are performing the steps and what the desired outcome is.
Getting a full understanding of the architecture framework will help you succeed when it comes to exam time. The practical tasks outlined by Qwiklabs help to get you in the right mindset and enhance familiarity with the technical and procedural requirements used within the Cloud.
Need to get certified quick? Get trained.
Finding time to prepare and study can be difficult, especially alongside a full time job. Signing up for training can really fast forward the process and still give you all the knowledge you need to use the Google Cloud Platform on a day to day basis.
Our Google Cloud training programme is really hands on, with lots of support from beginner to expert. Spread over 3 months, it’ll take just 6-7 days to get you up to speed across the range of topics that might come up across the 50 questions and multiple choice answers. You’ll also get a great insight into other areas of the GCP, too.
Of course you’ll still need to commit time to study - I recommend booking the date for the exam in advance to apply some pressure to yourself. There’s nothing more motivating than that immoveable date in the calendar!
Already certified? There’s still new ground to cover.
The exam has changed a lot in the last few years. I’d say roughly 30% of it was completely fresh, so don’t push it back too much if you’re coming up for two years certified.
If you’re already well versed in Google Cloud, then it’s going to take less time to prepare for your recertification. Just covering the updates (new content specific) should be enough to get you through.
* According to Google’s Global Knowledge 2019 and 2020 IT Skills and Salary Survey.
Cloud Architect exam details
Taken from Google certification page https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-architect
Length: 3 hours
Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
Exam format: Multiple choice and multiple select, taken remotely or in person at a test center.
Exam Delivery Method:
Take the online-proctored exam from a remote location, review the online testing requirements.
Take the onsite-proctored exam at a testing center, locate a test center near you.
Recommended experience: 3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud.
What's included in the Cloud Architect exam?
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
- Integration with external systems
- Movement of data
- Design decision trade-offs
- Build, buy, modify, or deprecate
- Success measurements (e.g., key performance indicators [KPI], return on investment [ROI], metrics)
Compliance and observability
1.2 Designing a solution infrastructure that meets technical requirements. Considerations include:
- High availability and failover design
- Elasticity of cloud resources with respect to quotas and limits
- Scalability to meet growth requirements
- Performance and latency
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)
- Choosing data processing technologies
- Choosing appropriate storage types (e.g., object, file, databases)
- Choosing compute resources (e.g., preemptible, custom machine type, specialized workload)
- Mapping compute needs to platform products
1.4 Creating a migration plan (i.e., documents and architectural diagrams). Considerations include:
- Integrating solutions with existing systems
- Migrating systems and data to support the solution
- Software license mapping
- Network planning
- Testing and proofs of concept
- Dependency management planning
1.5 Envisioning future solution improvements. Considerations include:
- Cloud and technology improvements
- Evolution of business needs
- Evangelism and advocacy
2. Managing and provisioning a solution infrastructure
2.1 Configuring network topologies. Considerations include:
- Extending to on-premises environments (hybrid networking)
- Extending to a multi-cloud environment that may include Google Cloud to Google Cloud communication
- Security protection (e.g. intrusion protection, access control, firewalls)
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 life cycle management
- Data growth planning
2.3 Configuring compute systems. Considerations include:
- Compute resource provisioning
- Compute volatility configuration (preemptible vs. standard)
- Network configuration for compute resources (Google Compute Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, serverless networking)
- Infrastructure orchestration, resource configuration, and patch management
- Container orchestration
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, secret management)
- Separation of duties (SoD)
- Security controls (e.g., auditing, VPC Service Controls, context aware access, organization policy)
- Managing customer-managed encryption keys with Cloud Key Management Service
- Remote access
3.2 Designing for compliance. Considerations include:
- Legislation (e.g., health record privacy, children’s privacy, data privacy, and ownership)
- Commercial (e.g., sensitive data such as credit card information handling, personally identifiable information [PII])
- Industry certifications (e.g., SOC 2)
- Audits (including logs)
4. Analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes
4.1 Analyzing and defining technical processes. Considerations include:
- Software development life cycle (SDLC)
- Continuous integration / continuous deployment
- Troubleshooting / root cause analysis best practices
- Testing and validation of software and infrastructure
- Service catalog and provisioning
- 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 processes
- Customer success management
- Cost optimization / resource optimization (capex / opex)
- 4.3 Developing procedures to ensure reliability of solutions in production (e.g., chaos engineering, penetration testing)
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 and management tooling
5.2 Interacting with Google Cloud programmatically. Considerations include:
- Google Cloud Shell
- Google Cloud SDK (gcloud, gsutil and bq)
- Cloud Emulators (e.g. Cloud Bigtable, Datastore, Spanner, Pub/Sub, Firestore)
6. Ensuring solution and operations reliability
6.1 Monitoring/logging/profiling/alerting solution
6.2 Deployment and release management
6.3 Assisting with the support of deployed solutions
6.4 Evaluating quality control measures