Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification learning path

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Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer certification exam is basically for one who works day-in day-out with the Google Cloud Services. It targets an Cloud Engineer who deploys applications, monitors operations, and manages enterprise solutions. The exam makes sure it covers gamut of services and concepts. Although, the exam is not that tough and time available of 2 hours a quite plenty, if you well prepared.

Quick summary of the exam

  • Wide range of Google Cloud services and what they actually do. It focuses heavily on IAM, Compute, Storage. There is little bit of Network but hardly any data services.
  • Hands-on is a must. Covers Cloud SDK commands and Console operations that you would use for day-to-day work. If you have not worked on GCP before make sure you do lot of labs else you would be absolute clueless for some of the questions and commands
  • Tests are updated for the latest enhancements. There are no reference of Google Container Engine and everything was Google Kubernetes Engine, covers Cloud Functions, Cloud Spanner.
  • Once again be sure that NO Online Course or Practice tests is going to cover all. I did LinuxAcademy which covered maybe 60-70%, but hands-on or practical knowledge is MUST

The list of topics is quite long, but something that you need to be sure to cover are

  • General Services
    • Billing
      • understand how billing works. Monthly vs Threshold and which has priority
      • how to change a billing account for a project and what roles you need. Hint – Project Owner and Billing Administrator for the billing account
    • Cloud SDK
      • understand gcloud commands esp. when dealing with
        • configurations i.e. gcloud config
          • activate profiles or set project and accounts
        • app engine i.e gcloud iam
          • check roles
        • deployment manager i.e. gcloud deployment-manager
  • Network Services
    • Virtual Private Cloud
      • Create a Custom Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), subnets and host applications within them Hint VPC spans across region
      • Understand how Firewall rules works and how they are configured. Hint – Focus on Network Tags.
      • Understand the concept internal and external IPs and difference between static and ephemeral IPs
    • Load Balancer
  • Identity Services
    • Cloud IAM 
      • provides administrators the ability to manage cloud resources centrally by controlling who can take what action on specific resources.
      • Understand how IAM works and how rules apply esp. the hierarchy from Organization -> Folder -> Project -> Resources
      • Understand the difference between Primitive, Pre-defined and Custom roles and their use cases
      • Need to know and understand the roles for the following services atleast
        • Cloud Storage – Admin vs Creator vs Viewer
        • Compute Engine – Admin vs Instance Admin
        • Spanner – Viewer vs Database User
        • BigQuery – User vs JobUser
      • Know how to copy roles to different projects or organization. Hint – gcloud iam roles copy
      • Know how to use service accounts with applications
  • Compute Services
    • Make sure you know all the compute services Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine and Google Kubernetes Engine, they are heavily covered in the exam.
    • Google Compute Engine
      • Google Compute Engine is the best IaaS option for compute and provides fine grained control
      • Make sure you know how to create a GCE, connect to it using Cloud shell or ssh keys
      • Make sure you know the difference between backups and images and how to create the same
      • Understand how you can recreate instance in different zones and regions
      • Know difference between managed vs unmanaged instance groups and auto-healing feature
      • Understand Preemptible VMs and their use cases.
      • know how to upgrade an instance without downtime. HINT – live migration.
      • In case of any issues or errors, how to debug the same
    • Google App Engine
      • Google App Engine is mainly the best option for PaaS with platforms supported and features provided.
      • Deploy an application with App Engine and understand how versioning and rolling deployments can be done
      • Understand how to keep auto scaling and traffic splitting and migration.
      • Know App Engine is a regional resource and understand the steps to migrate or deploy application to different region and project.
    • Google Kubernetes Engine
      • Google Container Engine is now officially Google Kubernetes Engine and the questions refer to the same
      • Google Kubernetes Engine, powered by the open source container scheduler Kubernetes, enables you to run containers on Google Cloud Platform.
      • Kubernetes Engine takes care of provisioning and maintaining the underlying virtual machine cluster, scaling your application, and operational logistics such as logging, monitoring, and cluster health management.
      • Be sure to Create a Kubernetes Cluster and configure it to host an application
      • Understand how to make the cluster auto repairable and upgradable. Hint – Node auto-upgrades and auto-repairing feature
      • Very important to understand where to use gcloud commands (to create a cluster) and kubectl commands (manage the cluster components)
      • Very important to understand how to increase cluster size and enable autoscaling for the cluster
      • know how to manage secrets like database passwords
  • Storage Services
    • Understand each storage service options and their use cases.
    • Cloud Storage
      • cost-effective object storage for an unstructured data.
      • very important to know the different classes and their use cases esp. Regional and Multi-Regional (frequent access), Nearline (monthly access) and Coldline (yearly access)
      • Understand life cycle management. HINT – Changes are in accordance to object creation date
      • Understand Signed URL to give temporary access and the users do not need to be GCP users
      • Understand permissions – IAM vs ACLs (fine grained control)
    • Relational Databases
      • Know Cloud SQL and Cloud Spanner
      • Cloud SQL
        • is a fully-managed service that provides MySQL and PostgreSQL only.
        • limited to 10TB and is a regional service.
        • know the difference between Failover and Read replicas
        • know how to perform Point-In-Time recovery. Hint – required binary logging and backups
      • Cloud Spanner
        • is a fully managed, mission-critical relational database service.
        • provides a scalable online transaction processing (OLTP) database with high availability and strong consistency at global scale.
        • globally distributed and can scale and handle more than 10TB.
        • not a direct replacement and would need migration
      • There are no direct options for Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle yet.
    • Data Warehousing
      • BigQuery
        • provides scalable, fully managed enterprise data warehouse (EDW) with SQL and fast ad-hoc queries.
        • Remember it is most suitable for historical analysis.
        • know how to perform a preview or dry run. Hint – price is determined by bytes read not bytes returned.
  • Data Services
    • Although there were only a couple of reference of big data services in the exam, it is important to know (DO NOT DEEP DIVE) the Big Data stack (esp. IoT gateway, Pub/Sub, Bigtable vs BigQuery) to understand which service fits the different layers of ingest, store, process, analytics, use
      • Cloud Storage as the medium to store data as data lake
      • Cloud Pub/Sub as the messaging service to capture real time data esp. IoT
      • Cloud Pub/Sub is designed to provide reliable, many-to-many, asynchronous messaging between applications esp. real time IoT data capture
      • Cloud Dataflow to process, transform, transfer data and the key service to integrate store and analytics.
      • Cloud BigQuery for storage and analytics. Remember BigQuery provides the same cost-effective option for storage as Cloud Storage
      • Cloud Dataprep to clean and prepare data. Hint – It can be used anomaly detection.
      • Cloud Dataproc to handle existing Hadoop/Spark jobs. Hint – Use it to replace existing hadoop infra.
      • Cloud Datalab is an interactive tool for exploration, transformation, analysis and visualization of your data on Google Cloud Platform
  • Monitoring
    • Google Stackdriver
      • provides everything from monitoring, alert, error reporting, metrics, diagnostics, debugging, trace.
      • remember audits are mainly checking Stackdriver
  • DevOps services
    • Deployment Manager 
    • Cloud Launcher (Marketplace)
      • provides a way to launch common software packages e.g. Jenkins or WordPress and stacks on Google Compute Engine with just a few clicks like a prepackaged solution.
      • It can help minimize deployment time and can be used without any knowledge about the product

Resources

16 thoughts on “Google Cloud – Associate Cloud Engineer Certification learning path

  1. Hi Jayendra,

    Thanks for posting these details. They are pretty informative. With no experience in any sort of cloud, is it a right choice to go for GCP Associate Cloud exam as compare to any of AWS certification exam ? How to practice commands on Google Cloud and is it free to experiment Compute Engine/App Engine/BQ etc with account ?

    Looks like this course is not free any more 🙁
    “A Cloud Guru course – Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer, available FREE for limited time.”

    Thanks for your guidance.

    Best Regards,
    Dpk

    1. Hi Deepak, you can get google course 1 month free on Coursera can try those. You would get hands on with that. Also, get your free account on GCP and check for google events, they usually give credits and monthly free subscription for Qwiklabs.

  2. Thanks for the details. i am new to cloud and currently learning, using different online videos and applying them on my GCP free tier.
    But it takes more than that to fill in the exam, and your blog gave me the ideas where all to work on , thanks for the braincert too 🙂

  3. Hi Jayendra,
    I am a fresher and working as Associate Analyst in a company but it’s not a purely technical job.I want to switch to Google cloud in 1 year.I will be preparing for Google cloud for 1 year and simultaneously doing my job.
    Will a company hire me with 1 year of analyst experience and a Google cloud certification as cloud engineer?
    How much time will be required to study Google cloud if I simultaneously do my job?

    Thanks and Regards,
    -Vivek

    1. Google Certification can be achieved in 3 months with dedicated preparation of couple of hours, I feel.
      Certification does not guarantee a job, but it surely gives you an edge over the other candidates.

  4. Today I passed Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer. It’s definitely not a easy one. Test covers all the sections of GCP. After writing it felt like there’s more to practice and test.

    Posting here cause I had read your post and had it as a bookmark and refer if I had missed anything to study.

  5. Is any prior experience required to get job as cloud engineer,if yes what kind of experience?
    Also do they take freshers as cloud engineer?
    I have done BCA.

    1. Prior experience is not needed for clearing exam, but it would surely need a lot of hands-on to prepare for the exam.
      Frankly its tough as fresher, but knowing things will surely set you apart from others.

  6. No I am saying that to get a job as cloud engineer is any previous experience required, because I am a fresher and have done BCA

    1. Previous experience is not needed for appearing for exam, but then you need to do lots of hands-on for GCP exams.

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