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The Google Professional Cloud Architect Journey Begins: raindog308's Quest for the Title

raindog308 ArchitectStarting later this week, I’m beginning my journey towards the Google Professional Cloud Architect certification.

While I’m certainly no stranger to the idea of running virtual machines in the cloud, this is more about professional life than hobbyist fun.  I did write an article nearly 10 years ago for the sadly defunct Linux Journal about running Linux VMs on Azure, but that was just as a random private user.  This is about day job.

Certifications in General

I’m not a fan of certs because they’re so ridiculously easy to cheat.  Years ago I got my Oracle Certified Professional (a DBA cert) and a while later interviewed a candidate who could barely spell DBA but was certified.  It’s possible he had an imposter take the test, but it’s also possible he just googled some dumps.  When I did the latter, I found the exact questions and answers I’d been asked.  Instead of all that studying and flashcards, I could simply have memorized the answers.

There are exceptions.  The RedHat Certified Engineer (RHCE), Cisco Certified Internet Engineer (CCIE), and Oracle Certified Master (OCM) all require you to go to a center and demonstrate your skills live.  You’re given broken systems (or systems needing something implemented or changed), a login, hopefully man pages, and a timer.  Then you prove yourself or you don’t pass.  This has a lot of validity and those certs are widely respected.

Does Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. know that people are cheating on certs?  How could they not?  But the whole education/certification environment is a cash cow for these companies.  For example, to earn any Oracle cert, you have to take an Oracle course.  Even if you have been in the biz for 20 years and know the software inside out, you still have to pay the $3,000 Oracle tax before you can sit for the exam.

Make no mistake: a cert is a nice gold star on your resume, but given the choice between

  1. An engineer with 10 years experience but no cert, or
  2. An engineer with no experience but a certification

…#1 is going to win every time.

Why Get a Cert?  Why This Cert?

I’ve recommended people pursue cert study even if they don’t both to get the actual title because these programs are excellent checklists for “everything you should know”.  For example, if you need to learn about Windows Server, getting an MCSA in Windows Server will expose you to all the major functions of the OS, so you can uses these certifications as syllabi for self-improvement.  In my case I want to learn about the Google cloud broadly, with an aim to matching up my employer’s needs and projects to the capabilities.

While learning AWS or Azure are also options, in this case I get a bit of a headstart with Google due to some training relationships.  My experience in other fields is that learning any major IT field is like learning a language.  If you learn PostgreSQL, when you go to study MySQL, you’re leveraging 50%+ of your existing knowledge.

Google PCA

The course of study is 7 courses:

  • Google Cloud Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure
  • Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation
  • Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services
  • Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Scaling and Automation
  • Reliable Google Cloud Infrastructure: Design and Process
  • Architecting the Google Kubernetes Engine: Foundations
  • Preparing for Your Professional Cloud Architect Journey

Each is about 8 hours of instruction plus labs, so around 60 hours overall.

This sounds a bit light for someone who’s going to be given the lofty title “Architect”.  In my case, I’ve been doing IT infrastructure (server/database) for 25 years, so this is more “icing on the cake” than a foundational course of study.

I’m using Coursera, which charges $49/month for access to the program.  I’m planning to use the Christmas break as a study marathon and knock these courses out, and then hopefully sit for the exam in January.

I’ll be keeping you all informed with my thoughts about the course and the cloud (at least Google’s vision of it) during this journey!


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