By Lizzie Reid

One of the most sought after industry certifications in tech is the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect, and sometimes it can be daunting with all the sources out there. As I have now passed the exam,  I would like to share my own research and guide to help you study for, and pass with flying colors, the newest version of the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect exam (as of May 1st 2021). It is based on my personal experience in studying and sitting and may not provide an exhaustive list of study topics to cover.

Exam Themes

These are some of the key exam themes I have identified based on the content of my exam. For the full list of exam topics, see the official certification guide.

  • Make sure you are comfortable choosing between network connectivity products (Direct Interconnect, Cloud Interconnect, Cloud VPN). This documentation is a good place to start.

  • Observability in hybrid cloud environments also came up, so make sure you are comfortable with Anthos and observability of service mesh traffic. This Anthos technical overview is a good place to start.

  • A question or two required knowledge of how networking occurs inside Kubernetes clusters, so brush up on Kubernetes concepts if you are unsure (see Kubernetes Deep Dive in the suggested study resources).

  • Read up on Traffic Director as a managed control plane for application networking.

  • Be familiar with VPC Network Peering as a networking option between two VPC networks.

  • Be familiar with VPC Service Controls as a way of adding an additional security perimeter around GCP resources.

  • Make sure you are comfortable with Shared VPCs and why you might choose them over other networking options.

  • Be comfortable with Firewall Rules and how to configure them to enable traffic between load balancers and back ends.

  • Read up on migration best practices and study-specific migration services such as Migrate for Compute Engine and Database Migration Service.

  • Read up on disaster recovery best practices.

  • Google Compute Engine is still prominent, so make sure you are familiar with all GCE concepts, including patch management.

  • Read up on Firebase product features for mobile app development.

  • Be familiar with products and services for data and application security, such as KMS, Secrets Manager and DLP.

  • As always, IAM is ubiquitous, so make sure you are very comfortable with IAM concepts.

  • Make sure you are comfortable choosing the best compute option for a specific use case (GCE, GKE, App Engine, Cloud Function, Cloud Run).

  • Make sure you are comfortable choosing the best database option for a specific use case (relational vs non-relational, transactional vs analytical, horizontal vs vertical scalability).

  • Make sure you are comfortable choosing the best compute engine storage option for a specific use case (GCS, persistent disk, Filestore).

  • Be comfortable working with gcloud and gsutil commands as you can be examined on specific command syntax.

A Note on Case Studies

The new version of the exam contains four new case studies; TerramEarth (updated), MountKirk Games (updated), Helicopter Racing League and EHR Healthcare. At the time of writing, there were a handful of Youtube videos online to help prepare for the case studies and formulate reference architectures (just google them).

Personally, I found that the case study questions contained all of the information required to answer them, so there was no need to prepare a reference architecture in advance. My advice would be to make sure you are familiar with the content of the case studies but don’t spend too much time studying a reference architecture.

Study Resources

Here are some resources I used to prepare for the exam:

  • A Cloud Guru – Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect

    • This comprehensive course contains a great place to cover your bases. If you are newer to Google Cloud, I would recommend taking this course. However if you are re-certifying and you have a strong foundation, it may not be necessary. NOTE: at the time of writing, this course has not been updated for the new exam version, so it is a little stale. This means you definitely need to supplement it with Google Cloud Documentation.

  • A Cloud Guru – Kubernetes Deep Dive

    • This is a good short course to cover your bases if you are new to Kubernetes. I watched the recap videos at the end of each chapter, and I found that was enough to give me a foundational understanding of Kubernetes architecture, storage and networking necessary for the exam.

  • Coursera – Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Foundations with Anthos

    • This is a good short course if you are new to Anthos. It gave me a good foundational understanding of Anthos clusters and service mesh, but I definitely had to supplement it with Google Cloud documentation.

  • Coursera – Preparing for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect Exam

    • This course takes a top-down approach to exam preparation and coaches you on how to approach the exam rather than covering detailed content. NOTE: at the time of writing, this course has not been updated for the new exam version, so it is a little stale.

  • Google Cloud Documentation

    • The Google Cloud documentation was by far the most valuable resource for studying and passing the exam as it contains up to date information and goes into greater depth than any other study resource. I recommend using the official certification guide and course notes from Linux Academy to identify topics study topics, then read detailed Google Cloud documentation on the topic.

  • Youtube – Google Cloud Tech

    • This channel contains plenty of videos on Google Cloud products and services in varying levels of detail. Check out the Playlists tab to see videos grouped by theme. I used these videos to supplement my knowledge on products/services I was shaky on, and it was a nice change from reading documentation!