Last October it was announced that Desert Oasis Healthcare (the company I work for) signed on to pilot Google's Care Studio. DOHC is the first ambulatory clinic to sign on.

I had been in some of the discovery meetings before the announcement and was really excited about the opportunity. So far our use of any Cloud platforms at work has been extremely limited (that is to say, we don't use ANY of the big three cloud solutions for our tech) so this seemed to provide a really good opportunity.

As we worked through the project scoping there were conversations about the handoff to DOHC and it occurred to me that I didn't have any knowledge of what GCP offered, what any of it did, or how any of it could work.

I've had on my 'To Do' list to learn one of the Big Three Cloud services (AWS, Azure, or GCP) but because we didn't use ANY of them at work I was (a) worried about picking the 'wrong' one and (b) worried that even if I picked one I'd NEVER be able to use it!

The partnership with Google changed that. Suddenly which cloud service to learn was apparent AND I'd be able to use whatever I learned for work!

Great, now I know which cloud service to start to learn about ... the next question is, "What do I try to learn?". In speaking with some of the folks at Google they recommended one of three Certification options:

  1. Digital Cloud Leader
  2. Cloud Engineer
  3. Cloud Architect

After reviewing each of them and having a good idea of what I need to know for work, I opted for the Cloud Architect path.

Knowing which certification I was going to work towards, I started to see what learning options were available for me. It just so happens that Coursera partnered with the California State Library to offer free training which is great because Coursera has a learning path for the Cloud Architect Exam! So I signed up for the first course of that path right before Thanksgiving and started to work my way through the courses.

I spent most of the holidays working through these courses, going pretty fast through them. The labs offered up are so helpful. They actually allow you to work with GCP for FREE during your labs which is amazing.

After I made my way through the Coursera learning Path I bought the book Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect Study Guide which was really helpful. It came with 100 electronic flash cards and 2 practice exams, and each chapter had questions at the end.

I will say that the practice exams and chapter questions from the book weren't really like the ACTUAL exam questions BUT it did help me in my learning, especially regarding the case studies used in the exams.

I read through the book several times, and used the practice questions in the chapters to drive what parts of the documentation I'd read to shore up my understand of the topics.

Finally, after about 3 months of pretty constant studying I took the test. I opted for the remote proctoring option and I'd say that I really liked this option. I was able to take the test in the same place I had done most of my studying. I did have to remove essentially EVERYTHING from my home office, but not having to drive anywhere, and not having to worry about unfamiliar surroundings really helped me out (I think).

I had 2 hours in which to answer 60 questions. My general strategy for taking tests is to go through the test, mark questions that I'm unsure of and eliminate answers that I know to not be true on those questions. Once I've gone through the test I revisit all of the unsure questions and work through those.

My final pass is to go through ALL of the questions and make sure I didn't do something silly.

Using this strategy I used 1 hour and 50 minutes of the 2 hours ... and I passed!

The unfortunate part of the test is that you only get a Pass or Fail so you don't have any opportunity to know what parts of the exam you missed. Now, if you fail this could be a huge help in working to pass it next time, but even if you pass it I think it would be helpful to know what areas you might struggle in.

All in all this was a pretty great experience and it's already helping with the GCP implementation at work. I'm able to ask better questions because I'm at least aware of the various services and what they do.

tags: gcp