Today I took the Associate Cloud Engineer exam and passed. The exam was medium difficult. However, I took this exam for granted and I did not study or prepare at all.
This exam is not a “walk in the park”. You need to know a lot of small details to pass this exam. This is a command-line gcloud style exam. Lots of questions on projects, service accounts, IAM, Kubernetes, etc. There were not many questions on actual Google Cloud services. I expected more questions on all the core services (Compute Engine, App Engine, SQL, Spanner, PubSub, BigQuery, Datastore, etc.) but they were seldom mentioned. This exam leans more towards what you should do when you first create a project in Google Cloud. Setting up IAM, projects, permissions, etc. There were a few questions on storage lifecycle (moving data to nearline / coldline). A fair number of questions on Kubernetes command line (kubectl).
I took the exam at the Bellevue College North Campus. Today is my 14th certification exam at this facility over the past few years. This is a great place to take exams. Lots of parking, quiet, clean and very organized. The testing computers are older, but I have not had any problems with any of my exams. There is a large cafeteria on the first level. You can relax with a coffee or a soft drink, have lunch, etc. before you take your exam. I mention this because it is important to relax a bit before taking an exam. Stress reduces your IQ and memory.
Once I completed the exam, the monitor said passed but I will have to wait for seven to ten days for my actual certificate. No score is given, just Pass or Fail. Update: certification confirmation received March 25th.
Key areas to study:
- The CLI gcloud. Know how to create projects and configurations. Know all the basic commands for Compute Engine.
- The Kubernetes CLI kubectl.
- The Storage CLI gsutil.
- Understand IAM, Roles, Permissions, etc. very well.
- Understand the basics of VPCs. There were a number of questions on subnets.
- Understand Storage and migrating data to nearline and coldline.
Suggested Online Training:
- Google Cloud Security Essentials by Matthew Ulasien-Linux Academy.
- This course will help you master the Project, IAM, roles, etc. required for this exam.
- Regulating Resource Usage Using Google Cloud IAM – Pluralsight
- This is another very good course by Vitthal Srinivasan
- A very good course on Kubernetes by Janani Ravi
- The following courses are by Google. Very good training.
- Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure – Pluralsight
- Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation – Pluralsight
- Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services – Pluralsight
- Elastic Cloud Infrastructure: Scaling and Automation – Pluralsight
- Elastic Cloud Infrastructure: Containers and Services – Pluralsight
Absolutely complete as many labs as you can. Set a target of 100 completed labs that you understand well. Repeat each lab until you understand everything. I completed over 200 labs and 20 quests before I took my first Google certification exam. They really helped reinforce my memory with lots of small details.
Prepare well before taking this exam. I was surprised at the difficulty level for an associate-level exam. I just took both the professional security and network exams, which are vastly harder than the associate, so I walked into the exam without preparing at all. Luckily, I do everything with the CLI instead of the console GUI, so most of the exam was easy.
Even if you know Google Cloud well and you plan to skip this certification and go right to the Professional Cloud Architect, don’t. Take this exam. The type of questions and knowledge required are different. This will ensure that you have a solid understanding from top to bottom. Creating projects and configuring credentials is not something that we normally do every day. This exam will make sure that you know how.
I design software for enterprise-class systems and data centers. My background is 30+ years in storage (SCSI, FC, iSCSI, disk arrays, imaging) virtualization. 20+ years in identity, security, and forensics.
For the past 14+ years, I have been working in the cloud (AWS, Azure, Google, Alibaba, IBM, Oracle) designing hybrid and multi-cloud software solutions. I am an MVP/GDE with several.