Passing the Professional Cloud Architect - My Journey

Last week I appeared for the Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect certification and passed it. In this blog post I will share my experience and the resources that helped me in clearing the certification.


Before you dive deeper into prepping up for the exam, review the official Exam Guide. This will give you a good high level overview of the various areas that you should be comfortable with before appearing for the certification.


Here's the list of items that I went through to prepare for the certification.


Coursera Courses

I was very new to Google Cloud and needed to understand the basics and core of Google Cloud and the above courses helped me in getting a good understanding of the entire platform and set the stage for me.


The above courses have bunch of Qwiklabs exercises which helped me in getting hands-on with the different services and the platform in general. And believe me it's very hard to crack the exam without sufficient hands-on. So, be sure to play around with the various services and explore the various options that they provide.


Case Studies

The certification was updated in May and with that the case studies were also updated. You can read more about them here in the Exam Guide.


Expect around 10 to 15 questions from case studies. I found this under-rated youtube channel which goes through the case studies in depth and helps in understanding each and every aspect of the technical and the business requirement.


Next Videos

Here are the videos that I watched before going into the exam:

  1. Cloud Load Balancing Deep Dive and Best Practices

  2. VPC Deep Dive and Best Practices

  3. Scalable and Manageable: A Deep-Dive Into GKE Networking Best Practices

  4. Preventing Data Exfiltration on GCP

  5. Where should I run my stuff? Choosing compute options

  6. Cloud Functions vs Cloud Run

  7. Cloud Run: What's New

  8. Centralize Access to your Organization's website using Identity Aware Proxy (IAP)

  9. Anthos Deep Dive: Part One

  10. Anthos Deep Dive: Part Two

  11. Data Warehousing with BigQuery: Best Practices

  12. The ins and outs of networking in Google Container Engine and Kubernetes

  13. Ensure privacy and security of your data in Cloud Storage

  14. Real-Time Stream Analytics with Google Cloud Dataflow: Common Use Cases & Patterns

  15. How Cardinal Health migrated thousands of VM's to GCP

  16. Cloud Networking for the Hybrid Enterprise

  17. GKE Architecture Patterns for Retail and Financial Services

  18. Building Stateful Application with Kubernetes and CloudSQL

  19. Using Kubernetes, Spinnaker and Istio to manage a multi-cloud environment

  20. Spanner, Firestore and BigTable: Connecting the Dots

  21. Container Native Load Balancing on GKE

  22. Enterprise-Ready Networking for GKE

  23. Develop Faster on Kubernetes With Google Container Tools and Cloud Build

  24. Tools for Migrating your Databases to Google Cloud


Services that are heavily focussed in the exam

  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE): Lot of questions revolve around GKE and how to implement or manage multiple Kubernetes clusters using Anthos.

  • Google Compute Engine (GCE): As expected GCE being one of the major services you get tested on GCE heavily. Expect questions from every area/feature of GCE like Managed Instance Groups (MIGs), persistent disks, Filestore, multiple NIC's, snapshots/images, patch management, security etc..

  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)/Networking: Nearly all the Google Cloud networking concepts will be tested, consisting of Shared VPC, hybrid connectivity options, peering, logging, firewalls, service controls, different types of Load Balancers etc..

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Understand the ins and outs of IAM. How to use Service Account across projects, Workload Identity Federation etc..

  • Cloud Storage: Understand in detail about the different security and access related features, various storage classes and when to use which one. Also, understand the various tools to transfer data to Cloud Storage.

  • Operations Suite: Understand when and how to use the various services like Logging, Trace, Debugger, Profiler and Monitoring.

  • When to use App Engine vs Kubernetes Engine vs Compute Engine. Sometimes all the options will make sense but based on the questions wordings and ask you will have to select the most appropriate service to host your application.

  • CloudSQL and other database services like Spanner, Firestore and BigTable. Understand when to use which one. For Eg:- BigTable for real-time analytics or for very high read/write throughput applications.

  • Pub/Sub integration with various services like Cloud Functions, DataFlow, IoT Core etc..

  • A general level overview of how various data analytics service like BigQuery, DataFlow, Dataproc fit into the picture.

Newer Services appearing in the exam

  • Cloud Run: This is one of my favourite services and expect couple of questions from Cloud Run in the exam.

  • Anthos: Given the amount of complexities that Anthos solves, no wonder you are tested on the various Anthos products like Anthos Config Management (ACM), Anthos Service Mesh (ASM).

  • Migrate for Compute Engine: Migration of VM's to Google Cloud using M4CE.

  • Network Intelligence Center: Expect at least 1 or 2 question(s) from Network Intelligence Center.

Last but not the least

Sample questions. These will familiarize with the format of the exam questions.


Resources I didn't use but highly recommended

When I was mostly into AWS, I used to use Adrian Cantrill's content because they are the best out there in the market in terms of AWS. Similarly, Antoni Tzavelas's content is best in the market when it comes to Google Cloud. His course is not just about passing the exam but real life scenarios and in-depth knowledge of the various Google Cloud services. Definitely recommend it to anyone appearing for the certification.


Here is the link to my certification.


I wish you all the luck for your certification. And, feel free to reach out to me in case of any queries or to understand more about the Certification.