GCP Cert Guide
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AWS apples to GCP oranges: A newbie’s guide to Google Cloud certifications

Mattias Andersson
Mattias Andersson

Life is full of big questions with no easy answer. Crunchy or smooth? Star Trek or Star Wars? Google Cloud or Amazon? If you’re in the early phases of weighing certification options, deciding which path to pick can feel daunting.

While Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains a popular choice, demand is rising for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) skills, especially as multi-cloud mania continues to grow. Whether you’re looking to start with GCP or know a bit about AWS and are curious how it compares, here are a few things you should know about GCP and Google’s Associate Cloud Engineer (ACE) certification.

Forget memorization

Good news for those who hate the memorization game: The path to ACE enlightenment involves almost none. Flash card-fueled study sessions have their place, but they’re not so useful for GCP certifications. Google’s exams dig down into how the systems work, weeding out the crammers and memorization masters.

Come to an understanding

GCP certs are designed to match up with real-world roles. Take this blurb straight from The Big G on its ACE certification:

An Associate Cloud Engineer deploys applications, monitors operations, and manages enterprise solutions. This individual is able to use Google Cloud Console and the command-line interface to perform common platform-based tasks to maintain one or more deployed solutions that leverage Google-managed or self-managed services on Google Cloud.

Sound like a job posting? That’s not by accident. The team at Google looked at what cloud engineers actually do and built their exam to test to that. This means understanding how and why all the pieces come together is key, not only for those going for ACE certification but anyone eyeing the GCP path.

Get your hands dirty

Before you ace your ACE exam you’ll need to get your hands dirty. (Not literally — keep your keyboard clean.) The ACE exam will challenge you to think your way through real-world scenarios. The best way to prepare yourself for this is spending hands-on time with GCP. Set up some real systems and explore how data flows through them. Control them via both the web console and the command line. Dig into GCP’s products and services to see how they are configured. Get a solid handle on Kubernetes.

As a bonus, your work could pay off double. Many Cloud Gurus have their eyes on the prized Professional Cloud Architect (PCA) certification, and the ACE can be an ideal stepping stone to get there. ACE leans on running systems and command-line access, while PCA focuses more on business analysis and tradeoffs. But both require a deep understanding of how things work in GCP, picked up through hands-on experimentation.

How do AWS and GCP exams compare?

If you’re familiar with AWS certifications and exams, how do GCP’s compare? In general, GCP exams aren’t as broad as Amazon’s. That’s partially because GCP isn’t a broad as AWS. (AWS will fire up a new service for just about everything — which is fine and dandy — but GCP tends to be a more-cohesive platform because Google is more deliberate about how they add to it.)

You can find some parallels between the GCP ACE exam and the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate (CSA-A) exam, but ACE is much more like Amazon’s hardest associate exam, the AWS SysOps Administrator – Associate. Wait! Don’t be scared off.

Your ACE in the hole

Google’s ACE exam is exhaustive, which can feel exhausting. But you too can join the ranks of ACE aces with the right prep.

Drop some of those sought-after certifications on your LinkedIn profile to move ahead in your current job or steer toward a new career. A Cloud Guru’s Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer course helps you study smarter. We’ll take you beyond flimsy memorization with exercises and labs that challenge you with real-world problems, so you can lock in what you learn in the form of true understanding.

Ready to go deeper?

Take the next step in learning GCP with our Introduction to Google Cloud Platform course. This free, two-hour course covers GCP’s design, structure, and plethora of services – and it’s a great foundation for pursuing your Associate Cloud Engineer certification.


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