What it takes to be a ‘Certified’ GCP Professional Network Engineer ?

You know what ? — I’m on cloud9s at the moment………………

Few hours back, I took this test online from home and glad to see the screen showing me ‘PASS’ :)

I’m still waiting for the official certification from Google Cloud as its still in the ‘Review Process’ at the moment as shown below. But I think it shouldn’t stop me from sharing about my journey towards this epic moment!

This is a very special moment for me because I didn’t plan to take this cert but eventually ended up preparing for it looking at the context and value addition it brings on to the table. And I can definitely say that it’s worth more than you can imagine. I’ll cover all those interesting facts below…Keep reading!

My thoughts and views are very fresh considering I dealt with it few hours back and my preparation. Hence, I think this is the best time to put all those in words through this blog which can help other aspiring engineers to follow

Little background

As mentioned before — this certification was never in my to-do list as I wanted to focus more specifically towards Cloud Security Specialisation. But while I was preparing for the GCP Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification, it hit my mind to focus on to the Network Specialisation as well. Because, Network and Security go very deep hand-in-hand — it’s impossible to think about the Security without being understanding the Networking concepts and how they join the dots together. They are very very very deeply interlinked — That’s the reason and that’s the only reason!

If you are really serious about the Cloud Security within the GCP space, I strongly recommend to take up the Security and Network Certifications [both] without fail. Definitely, you’ll feel the kick it takes to grab those under your belt :)

I think this holds very true for other CSPs as well but I don’t have much expertise to talk about AWS, Azure etc., and feel free to refer to the appropriate references as applicable

What’s the Best Path ?

According to me [these views are my very own., follow with your own & individual judgement], If you are very much keen on to the GCP Cloud Security, I think FIRST — preparing for the Professional Cloud Architect [which gives a very broad and deeper understanding about most of the GCP Products and Services], SECOND — preparing for the Professional Cloud Security Engineer [which gives a very thorough and detailed security perspective for each of the GCP Products and Services] and THIRD — finally hooking up with Professional Network Engineer [which gives a very detailed perspective to all of the GCP Networking Products and Services] is the best way to soak information step-by-step.

The above path best suits for the fresh minds who are with less experience with the GCP Cloud Technologies but if you have been already playing with the Cloud Space for a good time, then I think above might not really fit for you. Instead, based on your focus area/s — you can straight away jump on to that particular professional specialised certification. Applicable Commercial experience definitely helps you smash it though!

Is this Particular Certification Exam ‘Tough’ ?

Yeah — without a doubt — 100%! This is my 4th Certification within the GCP space and I can definitely say that if you are not well prepared., this exam can peel your skin very easily and you’ll sense it for sure. I didn’t mean other Certification exams are easy but this one is sitting at the top in complexity comparing to my exposure to other exams I’ve taken till now.

If you are NOT from a networking background [like me], the learning path is going to be a bit lengthy for sure. You need to be hanging around there with little more patience to get through this complex concepts and knowledge — be aware of it!

If you are from a Networking background and hold a good hands-on networking industry experience, I think it brings loads of advantage while studying for this exam but if not, I strongly recommend to First study the Networking fundamentals before actually going through the topics of this certification. I’ll guide you through what you can read in my later sections of this blog…I got that covered..so, relax :)

Let’s get to the Learning Path now

If you are following this blog, I already mentioned about the ‘Best Path’ to follow. So., let’s go little deep how to tackle those required learning paths:

First and foremost, You need to be aware of the Networking Fundamentals. For this, I strongly recommend — Professor Messer free course especially targeted for Network+ audience. You don’t need to take up that certification but ensure to go through those videos and get a good head around those fundamental concepts and contexts. Other useful playlist is from FreeCodeCamp.org. Do follow based on your choice and there are few more playlists available over youtube freely on the same topic and deep dive what works for you — Just search for ‘Network+’ and start to consume

Then, prepare for the Professional Security Engineer content. If you are really serious about taking up that certification, you can find my detailed blog with guidelines here

IT’s now time to actually think about the Network Engineer Certification — First and foremost, read through the amazing documentation prepared by Google Cloud here which covers important areas such as ‘Exam Overview’, ‘Exam Guide’ and many other useful sections. This has to be your go-to page to be best aligned with the latest and greatest information all the time for this certification. Do not miss to regularly visit that page.

Next, Coursera has put up a very decent preparation course for this specialisation and can be referred here. I’m a great fan of Coursera for their awesome content and practical labs through Qwiklabs. Don’t miss it., you’ll be amazed by the Quality of Content for sure!

AcloudGuru is the next choice I recommend. Follow through this course and ensure to complete Learning Path. It has loads of useful information through videos and practice tests. The course is very well structured and organised in perfect sections aligned to the ‘Exam Guide’ of the Google Cloud Platform which makes things easy for learners to co-relate the topics, the content and the context

You’ll notice that the Contents of GCP Professional Security Engineer Certification and the Contents of GCP Professional Network Engineer Certification are overlapping with each other to major extent. Hence, the best way to tackle these certs is to first take up the GCP ProSecEngr certification and then aim for the GCP ProNWEngr certification — that way you already have good ground covered to clear the exam with flying colours.

Apart from these, I suggest you to follow & watch Google Cloud Platform on Youtube. Some of the recommended playlists are below for your reference. There are plenty other freely available videos about Networking from GCP as well to refer as time permits

Doing the Practice Tests

Once you have covered the Coursera and AcloudGuru and other Youtube playlists, I think it’s a perfect time to start practising with the sample tests. The first one to hit is the ‘Sample Questions’ from GCP under cloud.google.com

Then to follow with the AcloudGuru Practice Tests. Ensure to achieve 95+% in each of your attempt. And with every test, try to retrospect what questions are going wrong and why ? similarly, It’s a good practice to double ensure the questions you’ve answered correctly to why did you answer them and what was the reason behind it. The more and more practice tests you attempt, the more understanding and clear concepts settle in your brain.

Networking and Security Exam use-case scenarios can be end-less and you’ll sense it as you go deep dive in to those practice tests. So, more practice is better to get your head around the possible scenarios

Always - It’s the best practice to refer to the official cloud.google.com documentation all the time to justify your responses and re-validate those regularly.

Compared to the GCP ProfSecEngr certification, this certification has the lesser content but they are very deep and complex to understand and to conceptualise. This is the fundamental difference I’ve noticed while my preparation. Primarily, you’ll be tested deep dive in the below areas:

Another area to learn is Kubernetes. In order to clear this exam, you must be aware of the Kubernetes fundamentals and Security perspectives of it. The more you know about Kubernetes, the better you’ll be. You’ll be definitely tested with at least 3–5 questions related to Kubernetes, it’s setup, it’s security and IP Ranges etc., In case if you take it easy — risk is yours!

Along with the above reading, I was also reading to Ammett Williams notes for a quick reference to go through before sitting for the actual exam. I definitely highly recommend it. In case if you are interested, please find the details here

Apart from studying and referring to the above, I absolutely followed the same strategy while attempting the exam as I followed for my GCP ProfSecEngr certification exam. It’s working for me and hope it helps you as well.

Along with those items, I would like to mention couple of more points specific to this certification exam to keep in mind:

That’s all for now. Hope this blog finds you helpful!

While I’m waiting for my official certification, I wish you all the very best!

Thanks for taking time to read!

Human being First, followed by A Husband and A Father of Two Smiles — Rest is the Magic!