This feature first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
According to IDC FutureScape, global spending on cloud-based technologies will account for at least half of total IT expenditures in 2018. By 2020, cloud spending will account for 60 percent of IT infrastructure expenditures, and between 60 and 70 percent of software, services, and technology IT expenditures.
The major public cloud services vendors are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud. All four offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
With all of those heavy hitters in the game, this is a good time for companies investing in cloud services. The 500-pound gorillas are all competing with each other to provide more transparent, secure, and cost-effective services, even as they keep adding new tools and features.
Google’s suite of public cloud computing services is known as Google Cloud Platform. Although Google is primarily a public cloud provider, it is also in the hybrid private cloud space.
While some companies still rely on a single platform, more and more organizations are taking multi-platform approaches. There is a growing tendency in the Industry to combine a major public cloud platform with specifics from a specialist. For example, both AWS and Google Cloud Platform are in partnerships with Salesforce.
Google enters the cloud
Google’s cloud foray began modestly in 2008 with Google App Engine, a PaaS tool geared toward web application developers. Although the market for web applications was growing, App Engine did not do well initially because it lacked compatibility with certain important programming languages.
In 2010, the company added a storage layer, Google Cloud Storage. Two years later, Google launched its cloud partner program, followed by the tools BigQuery, CloudSQL, DataFlow, and the IaaS tool Cloud Compute Engine.
This collection of tools and services eventually became Google Cloud Platform. Initially aimed at start-ups and SMBs, Google Cloud Platform would soon evolve into a solid option for the enterprise segment as well. Their enterprise clients include Coca-Cola, Apple, Spotify, and The Walt Disney Company.
Google’s near-term forecast
Currently, Google Cloud Platform is way behind Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon was the first major player to enter the market and is still the clear leader, with Microsoft having a pretty solid grip on the next rung down the ladder.
Google Cloud Platform’s market share did grow from 10 percent to 12 percent during the fourth quarter of 2017, and the company hopes to catch up with the big two by helping enterprises investing in artificial intelligence to develop machine-learning systems.
Drawing on publicly reported information for 2017, Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently said he believes Google Cloud Platform “is the fastest growing major public cloud provider in the world.”
Google’s strengths are in AI technologies, Big Data tools, and container infrastructure, such as Kubernetes. At the Google Cloud Next 2017 conference, the company launched a new machine learning API Video Intelligence, a video-cataloguing API. Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine is now in general availability.
Using Google’s TensorFlow, coders can build machine-learning software that has universal compatibility with — and is easily transferable to — Google Cloud Platform. TensorFlow is the most popular tool among developers, researchers, and students who work on machine-learning systems.
Google is banking on TensorFlow to enable it to capture a larger chunk of the $40 billion plus market. In April 2017, Diane Greene, Google’s cloud business head, said she hoped that Google would lead the market in five years.
Google has also invested heavily in global cloud infrastructure and data centers. According to Infoworld, however, Google’s comparatively narrow range of services in serverless computing, where AWS and Microsoft are far ahead, may prove an obstacle in its race for the No. 1 spot.
Bet on Google with Google Cloud certifications
If you suspect that Google has the wherewithal to make good on its bid to dominate the cloud computing market, then the still-fledgling Google Cloud certification program, Google Cloud Certified, should be of interest. This is where you can go to get a piece of the action for yourself. There are four certifications:
Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect
A Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect understands cloud architecture and the Google Cloud Platform. These highly skilled professionals are able to “design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.” A Google Cloud Architect can guide prospective clients on how to implement solutions and handle migrations on the Google Cloud Platform.
While there are currently no prerequisites to sit for the certification exam, it is helpful to have at least a few months experience working with Google Cloud Platform. The exam is multiple-choice, lasts two hours and is available in English and Japanese.
It tests proficiency in designing, planning, managing and provisioning cloud solution infrastructure, analysis and optimization of technical and business processes, designing for security and compliance, implementing and managing cloud architecture, and ensuring reliability of operations and solutions.
As Google emphasizes, work experience is an important part of preparing for the exam. Additionally, Google recommends the exam guide, sample case studies, training courses, hands-on-practice with Qwiklabs, and practice exams.
Google Cloud Certified Professional Data Engineer
A Google-certified Professional Data Engineer has the skills to design, develop, maintain, and troubleshoot systems for data processing. GCCPDEs are able to deploy data-processing technologies to gather, transform and picture data.
Data analysis skills enable a professional data engineer to discern probable business outcomes and develop statistical models to facilitate decision-making. They also have the expertise to build machine learning patterns in order to enable automation and streamlining of business processes.
This certification is designed for data analysts and scientists, business analysts, and other data professionals working in decision-making roles. It validates the ability to develop secure, reliable, highly efficient and scalable systems.
To become a Professional Data Engineer, you will need to pass a two-hour multiple-choice exam, available in English and Japanese. The exam has no prerequisites and it is necessary to take this exam in person at one of Google’s official testing center locations.
Either work experience in a query language, such as SQL, Python programming, machine learning, extracting, transforming and loading, or data modelling should be helpful. To prepare for the exam, rely on your work experience in combination with the exam guide, sample case studies, training courses, hands-on practice with Qwiklabs, documentation, and practice tests.
Google Cloud Certified G Suite Administrator
A Google-certified G Suite Administrator is able to configure and administer a G Suite domain. This includes managing users and groups, controlling access to cloud-based services, and ensuring the security of the domain.
The exam was available in beta, but is now closed for registration. According to Google, the certification exam will soon be globally available. For exam-specific updates, keep your eyes on cloud.google.com/certification. The exam has no prerequisites, but work experience with Google Cloud Platform is helpful.
As Google advises, the best way to prepare is to combine recommended study resources, such as the exam guide, self-study courses, and the video library of feature updates, with real-world experience.
Google Cloud Certified G Suite
A Google-certified G Suite professional has the know-how to operate and collaborate successfully in the modern digital workplace. This certification demonstrates expertise in using cloud-based tools to communicate via e-mail or online conference apps, and to create and share files, spreadsheets, documents, and slides.
According to Jefferies Group analyst Brent Thill, Google earns around half of its cloud revenue from G Suite. So earning this certification is likely to improve your job prospects sooner rather than later. The remotely proctored online exam was available in beta, but is now closed to new registration.
According to Google, the final certification exam will be available soon. Candidates will sit for the two-hour multiple choice and performance-based exam in a live G Suite domain.
Like other Google Cloud certification exams, this one has no prerequisite. Experience working on Google Cloud Platform, however, is an advantage. To prepare for this exam, Google recommends that candidates combine hands-on experience in the workplace with the G Suite Learning Center resources, interactive G Suite lessons, and Applied Digital Skills, Google’s free computer literacy course.
Measuring Google against the competition
Google is relatively new as a certification provider. Cloud computing has grown faster than expected, however, and there is currently a skills gap — meaning that qualified cloud professionals are in short supply.
The demand for AWS certs is currently greater than demand for Google credentials, because AWS has the largest share of the market. The number of organizations looking for skilled and certified Google Cloud Platform professionals, on the other hand, is increasing. Given that Google is growing fast and focusing on improving its offerings in AI and big data, demand for Google certifications is sure to rise.
Consulting companies and vendors benefit from having Google Cloud-certified architects and data engineers on their payrolls, because this enhances their customer support capabilities. In the future, we are likely to see more Google Cloud certified instructors.
According to CIO and Firebrand Training, Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect is one of the 12 most valuable cloud credentials available today. As Google Cloud Platform becomes more accessible to organizations, the demand for Google cloud certifications is expected to grow.