I recently sat down with long-time technology educator Rochana Golani, who's currently the head of learning and enablement for Cloud Platform at Google, to talk about the company's cloud-related certifications. She's currently taking the lead on exactly those cloud certifications, which include three certifications, with more planned to emerge sometime in the near term:
- Google Certified Professional: Cloud Architect
- Google Certified Professional: Data Engineer
- Google Certified Associate: G Suite Administrator
Golani, who has been with Google for a year, is the point person for training and certification related to Google's Cloud Platform. Her prior positions include a stint at Amazon Web Services, where she handle curriculum for that company's training and certification efforts, and a tour at VMware, where she filled a similar niche.
Cloud technologies are changing and radically reshaping the computing landscape, according to Golani. She said that as the cloud continues to evolve, and as adoptions in business, industry, government and academia continue to mushroom, the roles that IT staffers play must follow suit. "People are doing new things," she said, "and they're doing them with new tools, platforms and technologies. We want to help with that."
Golani's primary focus is to create learning programs to help customers get the most out of the cloud. She also seeks to develop and deliver multi-channel, multi-media training materials so that interested participants can "learn the way they want to learn." This helps to explain Google's ongoing and expanding partnership with educational platform and content developer Coursera (for example, Coursera currently offers a five course, accelerated specialization in Data Engineering on the Google Cloud Platform). People who sign up for such courses, she says, are "all about building things in the cloud," and Coursera does a great job of "providing an on-demand learning platform" to help them work through the concepts, tools and hands-on activities involved in making such things happen.
Golani addressed Google's recent (November 2016) acquisition of online lab developer and provider Qwiklabs, saying, "Our goal is to use hands-on labs and learning as the core and foundation for our certifications. We want learners to learn by doing in safe, controlled practice environments, before tackling real-world tasks in production environments." While Google's goal is to "validate skills and proficiencies in cloud technologies, platforms, and applications," she continues "we also want to find good way to deliver top-notch training on demand, for bite-sized information consumption during the process." Finding the right ways to break content up into chunks and modules suitable for learners' ingestion and experimentation is key, especially because so many learners want to shoehorn multiple training sessions into an average working (or weekend) day.
To that end, Google announced the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect in October 2016, along with the Data Engineer certification in January 2017. The Data Engineer certification is of particular interest in the current market. It aims to support any enterprise or organization seeking to leverage data to help them grow and support their business, or realize their missions. Students build on data pipelines, learn how to convert data into usable information (using Google BigQuery and similar agencies), and generally learn how to extract meaning and value from the data streaming into the cloud. This certification is taking off with dispatch, and is generating both interest and enthusiasm within the user base.
"The real impetus," says Golani, "is to help companies adopt cloud tools to help them consume and scale business intelligence and information." To support students during the certification preparation process she emphasizes that all three certifications offer detailed exam guides and case studies to help students understand what topics are covered, and what kinds of tasks they will be asked to complete, and problems they will have to solve. The professional exams are currently available only in testing centers, but there are many proctors for the G Suite admin exam.
Going forward, the themes that Google has introduced in these certifications will be further elaborated and developed. Golani says the company plans to keep serving is customers with "appropriate, future-friendly learning materials" that are "continuously updated, where learning is a continuum not an occasional event." She repeats Google's dedication to helping professionals learn in whatever ways work best for them, through a variety of materials including online, on-demand curriculum as well as instructor led training. Looking ahead, she expects the certification program to elaborate in ways that "may cover new roles as they emerge in the marketplace, or that add new and deeper curriculum elements." This will undoubtedly embrace "deeper proficiencies in important platforms, tools, and technologies," as well as "other areas of specialization." She professes herself to be "excited about the potential of this learning program" and expects to see offering "scale well with delivery through Qwiklabs and other learning partners."
I'd urge interested readers to dig deeper into the Cloud Certification page at Google, and to keep their eyes out for new topics and certifications to emerge from this program. While it may still be in the early stages of development and adoption, Google remains a force to be conjured with, especially in matters related to data analysis and cloud computing.