Google Cloud Associate Engineer or ACE for short is the associate level certification for one to gain entry into the world of Google Cloud Certifications. Though it is not mandatory for someone to get ACE certified before attempting any Professional Level Google Cloud Certification, it is actually more beneficial to follow the routine (and I will discuss why).
I had the chance to appear for the ACE Certification Exam and cleared it. It was my first Cloud Certification, not to mention, my first Certification which contained “Google” in the name. Naturally, I was over the moon with the fact that I had been recognized as an Associate Cloud Engineer. So here’s my account of what I did and how I prepared for it all.
I had previously attended a Cloud Study Jam organized by Google Cloud Developer Community in Kolkata (there are GCDCs all over the world in major cities). It was my first exposure to the Google Cloud Platform. It also helped me to gain access to Qwiklabs – a platform for getting hands-on GCP practice. Within no time, I had completed 3 quests (collections of Practical Labs on a specific topic) after which I thought about appearing for the Associate Cloud Engineer Exam. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I didn’t properly know about half of the things in the Syllabus as I couldn’t answer properly the other half. So the lesson learned was that Qwiklabs is not enough.
It was then I came across Coursera Google Cloud Specialization and even got one-month of free access. I chose the “Architecting with Google Cloud” Specialization since that matched the most with the ACE exam syllabus. Even after completing most of the courses in that I fell short of even answering well on the free practice exam. So, even though I had access to Theory from Coursera and Practical from Qwiklabs, I found I wasn’t capable enough.
Now the next part might sound like I am trying to advertise about some product, but trust me when I tell you that it is my honest experience. I had the luck to connect with Chirag Nayyar over LinkedIn and after I told him about it, he recommended a course on Udemy. Luckily, I got the course at a heavy discount. The Course was “Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Certification” by A Cloud Guru. I must say that to this date, it is one of the best courses I have ever come across. Even though it was being marketed as just a Cert Prep course, it went deep into the concepts (much more than the Coursera Specialization). This course by Ryan Kroonenburg, Nigel Poulton and Mattias Anderson helped me understand the nitty-gritty details about GCP.
It was there that I learned that even though the ACE exam is Google Cloud’s Associate Level exam, it actually went deep and expected the taker to be from a Developer background. The course was heavily focused on 4 things – Compute, Network, Storage and Kubernetes. It even had a part of it taken from a Deep Dive course on Kubernetes. There were parts on Stackdriver as well.
After spending so much time and completing the course, it was time to actually appear for the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Exam. I found myself going through the A Cloud Guru course again and again as well as preparing myself with hands-on with Qwiklabs.
Giving the Exam
I must admit that I was hyped for the exam. It was mentioned that the ACE exam would be equal to AWS’ SysOps Associate Cert Exam which was again mentioned to be one of the toughest Associate level exams.
While I was giving the exam, I found that
• A lot of questions were from Kubernetes.
• One or two questions were Scenario-based.
• There were no True/False or Multiple Correct option type of questions.
• Questions from IAM were common as well.
• Answering the questions meant I had to be familiar with Best Practices recommended by Google as well as with the Docs.
Thanks to the course by A Cloud Guru and advice by Chirag, the last point was clear. I completed the 2 hours exam in a matter of 45 minutes (something even I couldn’t believe) and had ample time to revise my answers. Some questions, in particular, were a bit troublesome. They had options that seemed almost the same. It was upon focusing on the question and then trying to figure out the “nuance” of it that I came across the correct answer.
I pressed the “Submit” button and filled a short feedback form and et voila., the next screen contained the word “Passed” in green. For a moment I had Goosebumps.
Looking back, I would say that learning Kubernetes basics and having the Big 3 of Cloud – Compute, Network, and Storage clear played a big role in helping me pass the exam. I wouldn’t say that the exam was really that tough, though I would acknowledge that I would have been able to clear it just on the Basis of “Qwiklabs” and/or “Coursera Specialization”. Clearing the Cert exam motivated me to take my Cloud Journey even further. It also gave me a new world of connections (if you are a beginner like me, you would figure it out yourself once you clear the ACE exam). Here’s to hoping that I can go even further in this journey and should you decide to take the exam as well, do ping me after you clear it! It’s always great to connect with like-minded enthusiasts.