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Cloud Engineer: Review of Coursera’s Preparing for Google Cloud Certification

If you're pursuing a career in cloud engineering, the preparatory course on Coursera for the Google Cloud Engineer certification is worth considering. In this review, we'll go through the details of the program.

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Coursera Professional Certificate – Google Cloud Certification: Our Verdict (2023)

Course Rating

4.7 / 5

The "Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Engineer" Professional Certificate is an immersive opportunity designed to equip students and professionals with the essential skills required for a successful career in cloud engineering. It also prepares you for the widely-recognized Google Cloud Engineer certification exam. Covering a wide spectrum of cloud-related concepts, this program offers a structured and hands-on approach to learning. With practical labs, real-world case studies, and flexible pacing, you'll not only prepare for the Google Cloud Engineer Certification but also gain valuable practical experience that can be applied in cloud architecture and engineering roles. This program is a valuable investment in your cloud engineering journey, providing the skills and expertise needed to thrive in today's technology-driven landscape.

Pros

  • Prepares you for the highly recognized Google Cloud Engineer certification exam
  • Course certificate from Google
  • Teaches advanced and in-demand Cloud Engineering skills
  • Hands-on external labs in Google Cloud Console
  • Requires only one month

Cons

  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Requires prior knowledge and experience in cloud computing
  • Hard-to-understand accent in some videos

Time-limited offer
$200 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 31 January 2024)
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In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Cloud Computing stands out as a transformative force, revolutionizing how organizations operate and deliver services. The adoption of cloud technology in the IT industry is creating a demand for skilled cloud professionals who can navigate the intricacies of cloud platforms and services. Recognizing this shift, Google Cloud has introduced an online professional certificate on Coursera for aspiring cloud engineers and architects. The “Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Engineer” Professional Certificate equips you with the knowledge and expertise required in the dynamic realm of cloud engineering over one month and prepares you for the Google Cloud Engineer Certification – one of the most widely recognized certifications in this area.

Table of Contents

Introductory video for Google Cloud Services
Figure 1: Introductory video for Google Cloud Services

In a world where cloud computing provides rapid access to shared pools of resources, the need for professionals well-versed in cloud technologies is more crucial than ever. This intermediate-level program contains six carefully curated courses, each serving as a building block in your journey to becoming a proficient Google Cloud Engineer. After completing the program, you should be in a good position to register for the Google Cloud Engineer Certification exam, which can serve as a key to a promising career as a Cloud Engineer. With six distinct courses, this program covers a wide spectrum of essential cloud engineering concepts, including the fundamentals of Google Cloud infrastructure, core services, containerization, application development, infrastructure automation, and performance monitoring.

As you progress through this program, you will make deep dives into critical cloud engineering topics, including the organization of Google Cloud resources, virtual networking, storage solutions, container management with Kubernetes, and access and security configuration. Furthermore, you’ll explore techniques for deploying and managing cloud infrastructure efficiently while ensuring optimal performance and reliability. By the end of this journey, you’ll not only be prepared to excel in the Google Cloud Engineer certification exam but also equipped with the practical skills and insights needed to thrive in roles related to cloud architecture and engineering.

You’ll navigate through the six courses over one month, dedicating around 10 hours per week (but you can determine your pace yourself). The program is intermediate level, so having background knowledge of application development, Linux operating systems, systems operations, data analytics, and machine learning will help you understand the concepts easily. You can then spend more time on the newer, more complex concepts and skip the simpler ones that you already understand. According to the course description, programming ability is not required, but in my opinion, you would likely struggle with this program if you do not have any prior experience.

Each course has 3 to 11 hours of content, including videos, readings, quizzes, and Qwiklab assignments. You can set your pace and deadlines yourself, go over the videos in one spot, or skip to the sections you want to study first. The readings also have PDFs of the content covered in videos so that you can have a written reference of all the concepts and don’t need to skim through all the videos before preparing for the quizzes and assignments.

Figure 2: PDFs containing the video lecture content for the courses

I had paid access to the program, which allows you to attempt all assignments, labs, and exercises and also gives you the final shareable Certificate of completion. However, you can still audit the courses in the Certificate without paying for it, so you can check the syllabus before committing to the full version. You’ll be able to see the videos and readings but not attempt the assignments and receive the Certificate of completion. 

Alternatives and complements to completing this Certificate

As this Certificate Program prepares you for the Google Cloud Engineer Certification exam, you can also try other methods if you want to train and learn the skills to take that exam. Google Cloud has its own website where it explains in depth the nature of the exam, the prerequisites, and the guidelines and resources to prepare for it. It offers the Cloud Engineer Learning Path, which takes you through a curated collection of on-demand courses, labs, and skill badges that equip you with real-world, hands-on experience by using Google Cloud technologies vital to the Cloud Engineering role. This learning path is free to take, and upon completion, you can attempt the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer certification to proceed with your professional journey. This option, however, does not provide you with the more advanced learning features offered by Coursera, including the peer-graded assignments.

Google Cloud website Learning Path for Associate Cloud Engineer Certification preparation
Figure 3: Learning Path available on the Google Cloud website to help you train for the Associate Cloud Engineer Certification

The Google Cloud website also provides sample questions and learning guides to prepare for the exam. You can also register for the Google Cloud Engineer Certification (GCE) through the website.

There are also other alternatives to learn skills needed to ace in a cloud engineering role and get familiar with the Cloud infrastructure and platform services. The Google Cloud Engineer Learning Path Professional Certificate on edX is a similar 3-month program that teaches the necessary concepts and skills to get the Cloud Engineer Certification from Google, but at a considerably higher cost. The Ultimate Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer 2023 course on Udemy is also a good and affordable option to prepare for the GCE certification exam.

Level and prerequisites

This is an intermediate-level course, and it is recommended to have some prior knowledge of cloud computing concepts. Experience with virtual machines, Web servers, and IP networking is ideal, and for the Google Cloud Engineer certification exam, over six months of hands-on experience with GCP (Google Cloud Platform) is recommended. The first course in the program, ‘Google Cloud Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure,’ is the only beginner-level course in the Certificate and sets the foundation for all courses that follow. It assumes no prior knowledge for most concepts, but it is still preferred to have familiarity with application development, Linux operating systems, data analytics, systems operations, and machine learning to best understand the technologies covered. According to the course description, programming ability is not required, but in my opinion, you would likely struggle with this program if you do not have any prior experience.

Required Prerequisites
Figure 4: Prerequisites

Cost

The ‘Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Engineer’ Certificate is included in the Coursera Plus subscription. It costs $59 per month and allows you to fully access the majority of Coursera courses (but not, for example, the IBM IT Support Professional Certificate). This will remain $59 with the recommended 1-month completion time. You can also consider the annual Coursera Plus subscription, which costs $399, if you wish to complete several certificates or courses on Coursera or if you expect to take longer to finish the Certificate.

As for most programs on Coursera, you can also audit the six courses of the Certificate for free, but without most of the functionality that paying students get.

It is important to note that while you get a certificate of completion issued by Coursera and Google at the end of this program, this is not the Google Cloud Engineer Certification. To get this certification, you will need to successfully pass Google’s certification assessment, which comes with a $125 registration fee.

Is it worth the money?

If you are pursuing a career in cloud engineering or want to acquire a cloud certificate to add to your resume, then I would recommend taking the Google Cloud Engineer exam. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is one of the top 3 public cloud providers alongside AWS and Microsoft Azure, and the demand for skilled and certified Google Cloud professionals is growing exponentially because of increased adoption of the Google Cloud Platform.

This program offers a thorough curriculum that covers a wide range of essential cloud engineering concepts and adequately prepares you for the GCE certification exam. The hands-on experience gained through practical labs and real-world case studies is a significant advantage, as it allows you to apply your knowledge in practical scenarios, which is highly valuable in the job market. If completing the course in a month, the cost is very reasonable and should be manageable for most students. But if you are pursuing the Google certification, you will also need to add the $125 registration fee.

It’s important to consider the cost of the program relative to your budget and financial situation. While it may be more affordable than traditional education or in-person training, it still represents an investment. Therefore, you should assess your commitment to completing the program and actively engaging with the material. The program’s value is closely tied to your dedication and willingness to learn. The program can be worth the money if you are dedicated to pursuing a career in cloud engineering or advancing your existing cloud-related skills. It offers a well-rounded educational experience, industry recognition, and practical skills development. However, like any educational investment, it should be considered in the context of your specific career goals and financial situation to determine its overall value to you.

Instructors

The Professional Certificate is created and developed by Google. The instructors are part of the Google Cloud Training team. This team of expert trainers develops, delivers, and evaluates training that allows Google’s enterprise customers and partners to use its products and solutions offerings effectively. The instructors in the course include Brian Rice, Technical Curriculum lead; Evan Jones, Technical Curriculum Developer; and Eoin Carroll, also a Technical Curriculum Developer at Google Cloud.

Instructor from the course
Figure 5: One of the instructors in the course

Review

Structure

The professional Certificate has a one-month recommended time with six courses. All courses have content of 3 to 11 hours with one or more modules. Each topic in a module ends with a graded assignment, which is either an MCQ quiz or an external app graded item. The structure of each course is the same, with a course introduction video, overview, readings, PDFs containing the content covered in videos, practice quizzes, and graded assignments in the end.

Course Overview
Figure 7: Course outlook

The majority of each course’s content is taught through videos, but each video is short and only explains a certain area of a topic. This helps you to divide the topics into smaller concepts and study them in an organized way instead of getting lost in longer videos. You can also easily revisit any part of the course or return to a specific concept by going to that specific video.

In addition to the videos, some readings highlight key ideas, serve as written notes, provide additional context, and set the ground for the videos to follow. 

Introductory Reading Material for the Architecting with Google Kubernetes Engine Course
Figure 8: Introductory reading for the Architecting with Google Kubernetes Engine course

The Resources tab in each course contains PDFs of the content covered in videos so that you can have a written reference of all the concepts and don’t need to skim through all the videos before preparing for the quizzes and assignments.

Resources Tab with PDFs for Reviewing All Modules
Figure 9: Resources tab containing PDFs to revise all modules

There is a practice quiz containing MCQs that takes 5 to 30 minutes to complete after each topic in a course. They are designed in a similar way to the ones you will find in the Google Cloud Engineer Certificate exam so that you can get good practice. Even though they are not graded, make sure you fully understand the foregoing topic before attempting the practice quiz. The graded quizzes and labs also accurately test the concepts in each module. They serve as essential exercises for testing the information you’ve just acquired and are a reminder to refer back to the readings and videos if you’re stuck. You are free to retake them until you get them right, but I suggest you only attempt them when you are confident about your understanding.

Practice Quiz
Figure 10: Practice quiz

The Graded Assessments are either MCQs like the practice quizzes or graded plugins or labs that appear in a new window. The labs are done on Qwiklabs, an online learning environment, and Google Cloud’s hands-on lab platform. It takes you through live, real-world tasks and situations that you are likely to come across as a Cloud Engineer. Qwiklabs specifically uses the Google Cloud Console to spin up cloud platform resources. It provides lab learning environments that help Cloud professionals and developers get hands-on practice with the best cloud platforms and technologies.

Qwiklab Assignment
Figure 11: Qwiklab assignment
Google Cloud Console Hands-On Lab
Figure 12: Hands-on lab on Google Cloud Console

The courses also feature a discussion forum where you can submit questions or problems that need clarification, get answers, and talk to other students who have taken the course or are presently enrolled in it. Your expertise and ideas can also be helpful to the other students. Whether you’re having trouble grasping a concept, completing a practice exercise, or simply want more knowledge on a certain issue, the discussion boards are designed to help you connect with others over a common interest.

Course 1 Discussion Forum
Figure 13: The discussion forum in Course 1

Detailed review of the courses

The complete Certificate has six courses:

  1. Google Cloud Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure
  2. Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation
  3. Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services
  4. Elastic Google Cloud Infrastructure: Scaling and Automation
  5. Architecting with Google Kubernetes Engine: Foundations
  6. Preparing for Your Associate Cloud Engineer Journey

Each course has 3 to 11 hours of content, each with videos, readings, PDFs, quizzes, and labs, but you are free to reschedule the deadlines and complete the courses at your own pace. A detailed overview of all the courses follows below.

Google Cloud Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure

This course serves as an essential foundation for understanding Google Cloud’s core concepts and services. It will introduce you to the fundamental components of Google Cloud’s infrastructure and explore key benefits of using the platform. You’ll learn about Google’s extensive network infrastructure, including points of presence, data centers, regions, and zones, while also differentiating between Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models. Additionally, you gain insights into resource organization through projects, access management via Identity and Access Management (IAM), and various methods to interact with Google Cloud.

Video from Course 1
Figure 14: Video from Course 1

The course delves into crucial topics such as Google Compute Engine and virtual networking, equipping learners with the skills to deploy basic infrastructure on Google Cloud. Furthermore, it covers Google Cloud’s core storage products and their use cases, including Cloud Storage, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud SQL, Cloud Spanner, and Firestore. You will also explore containerization concepts and how to manage containers with Kubernetes and Google Kubernetes Engine, as well as delve into cloud application development with App Engine and API management tools. Additionally, you’ll get introduced to Cloud Source Repositories, Cloud Functions, Terraform for infrastructure as code, and the importance of monitoring and performance measurement in achieving product reliability.

Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation

Video from Course 2
Figure 15: Video from Course 2

This course provides an accelerated, hands-on introduction to the comprehensive infrastructure and platform services offered by Google Cloud, with a primary focus on the Compute Engine. Through a combination of video lectures, practical demonstrations, and hands-on labs, this course equips you with essential skills to work with Google Cloud’s infrastructure components, including networks, virtual machines, and application services. You will gain a profound understanding of Google Cloud’s console and Cloud Shell, allowing you to efficiently navigate and utilize Google Cloud resources. Additionally, the course covers key topics related to cloud architecture, infrastructure design approaches, and the configuration of virtual networking using Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Projects, Networks, Subnetworks, IP addresses, Routes, and Firewall rules.

Essential Google Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services

This course is an accelerated, on-demand program that provides a comprehensive understanding of Google Cloud’s flexible infrastructure and platform services, specifically emphasizing Compute Engine. It equips you to explore and deploy various solution components, including infrastructure elements such as networks, systems, and application services. The course goes beyond the basics and dives into deploying practical solutions, covering important topics such as customer-supplied encryption keys, security and access management, quota management, billing, and resource monitoring.

Video from Course 3
Figure 16: Video from Course 3

The videos explain how to navigate the course effectively, download essential course resources, manage and examine the billing aspects of Google Cloud resources, comprehend the cloud resource manager hierarchy, recognize the role of quotas in protecting Google Cloud customers, organize resources using labels, understand budget alerts, and utilize BigQuery to examine billing data. By the end, you’ll gain not only a deeper knowledge of Google Cloud’s core services but also practical skills for effectively managing resources, security, and billing within the Google Cloud platform.

Elastic Google Cloud Infrastructure: Scaling and Automation

This course provides you with an in-depth exploration of Google Cloud’s comprehensive and flexible infrastructure and platform services. It is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively scale and automate infrastructure within the Google Cloud environment. It delves into various solution elements, with a focus on securely interconnecting networks, load balancing, autoscaling, infrastructure automation, and the utilization of managed services.

Video from Course 4
Figure 17: Video from Course 4

You will gain valuable insights into automating the deployment of Google Cloud infrastructure services using tools like Terraform and exploring the capabilities of the Google Cloud Marketplace. This course is particularly beneficial for cloud solution architects, DevOps engineers, and individuals interested in harnessing Google Cloud’s scalability and automation features to create and manage cloud solutions efficiently.

Architecting with Google Kubernetes Engine: Foundations

This course focuses on the fundamental principles and architecture of Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). You will gain a strong foundation in containerization technology, Kubernetes, and how to leverage GKE for container orchestration within the Google Cloud environment. The course is structured to provide learners with a structured path to understanding key concepts, tools, and practices essential for architecting solutions with GKE.

Video from Course 5
Figure 18: Video from Course 5

Throughout the course, you will identify Google Cloud services and their functions, make informed decisions on selecting the right services for cloud solutions, create and manage software containers using Cloud Build and Container Registry, and explore the relationship between Kubernetes and GKE. Additionally, you will delve into the components of a Kubernetes cluster, deploy clusters using GKE, and work with essential Kubernetes objects like Pods. By the end, you will be well-prepared to architect robust containerized solutions on Google Kubernetes Engine, making it an essential resource for cloud architects, DevOps professionals, and anyone looking to harness the power of container orchestration in the Google Cloud ecosystem.

Preparing for Your Associate Cloud Engineer Journey

The last course is specifically designed to assist individuals in their preparation for the Associate Cloud Engineer exam offered by Google Cloud. This course serves as a structured guide to help learners understand the various domains covered by the exam and formulate an effective study plan to enhance their knowledge and readiness for the certification.

Video from Course 6
Figure 19: Video from Course 6

Throughout the course, you’ll engage in weekly objectives that align with the exam’s content domains. These objectives include tasks such as understanding the scope of setting up a cloud solution environment, planning and configuring cloud solutions, deploying and implementing recommended cloud solutions, ensuring successful cloud operations, configuring access and security, and finally, creating a personalized study plan and registering for the Associate Cloud Engineer exam. It also contains a diagnostics test to help you assess your skills and identify which areas you’ll need more focus on.

Google Cloud Engineer Exam Diagnostic Questions
Figure 20: Diagnostic Questions for the Google Cloud Engineer Exam

This course acts as a valuable resource for those aspiring to become Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineers by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and study strategies necessary to excel in the certification journey. It offers a structured path to success in the certification exam and, ultimately, in cloud engineering roles.

Video on the Next Steps in Preparing for the Associate Google Cloud Engineer Journey
Figure 21: Video explaining the next steps in Preparing for the Associate Google Cloud Engineer Journey

What others say

Student reviews for the Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Engineer Professional Certificate on Coursera are mainly positive. It has an overall 4.8 rating. Most students praise the organized and well-designed nature of the videos and the ability to get hands-on experience with Google Cloud Console resources through the interactive labs. Some reviews mention the technical issues students had to face in navigating the labs and logging in to the Qwiklabs account, which negatively affected their experience. Considering that this is a highly technical program, it is quite understandable that such issues appear, and despite this, most of the students could easily attempt the labs.

Student Reviews for the Final Course in the Certificate Program
Figure 22: Student reviews for the last course in the Certificate

Reviews on other platforms like Quora, Medium, and Reddit also appreciate the course’s relevance in the realm of Cloud Engineering, and its comprehensive structure and content that adequately prepares you for the GCE certification exam.

Conclusion and recommendations

In conclusion, the “Preparing for Google Cloud Certification: Cloud Engineer Professional Certificate” program offers a comprehensive and relevant curriculum that aligns seamlessly with the evolving landscape of cloud engineering. As technology continues to advance, the skill to navigate cloud platforms and services, optimize cloud infrastructure, and ensure security has become indispensable in the IT industry. This program’s robust coverage of these critical areas equips you with the skills needed to excel in the dynamic field of cloud engineering.

Reading Material for Preparing for Your Associate Cloud Engineer Journey
Figure 23: One of the readings on preparing you for your Associate Cloud Engineer Journey

While you might find some topics harder to understand, considering that it is an intermediate-level program and requires prior knowledge in some areas, you can work your way around this with dedication, practice, and the wise utilization of additional learning resources. The program’s flexibility in terms of pacing allows you to adapt it to your own speed, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals.

Preparing for the Google Cloud Engineer certification through this program can significantly enhance your career prospects in the cloud engineering field. Furthermore, the global recognition of Google Cloud certifications underscores their value and relevance in the industry. Other than completing this program, I would also recommend that you complement your learning journey with additional resources to strengthen your CV and build a strong professional profile. You can explore additional online courses and learning materials from reputable tech websites to further enhance your skills and knowledge.

Time-limited offer
$200 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 31 January 2024)