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Pass Notes for SAP on Google Cloud studies and certification

In this blog I give some advice about studying for certifications related to the topic of running SAP on Google Cloud (“GC”). It’s possible some of the advice gets out of date over time, however as SAP itself as well as SAP on Hyperscalers evolve at a slower rate than some areas of cloud computing, these notes might well be useful for a few years – let’s see!

Now the first thing to realise, is that discussions around SAP on Some-Platform usually assume that you are already reasonably competent in the so-called SAP Basis topics, i.e. how to deploy and maintain SAP systems (including SAP HANA and other database systems) in on-premise scenarios. Denys van Kempen has a couple of blogs about getting certified in SAP tech topics, have a look:

https://blogs.sap.com/2020/01/13/get-certified-c_tadm55a_75/

https://blogs.sap.com/2020/12/17/get-certified-c_hanatec_17/

Neither of those certifications is easy, but with some study (and if possible some practice) they are quite gettable.

For a good general introduction to SAP on Hyperscalers, you can try the following (free) openSAP course:

https://open.sap.com/courses/hyper1

Note also that SAP offers their HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) these days as HEC-on-Hyperscaler, so including HEC-on-GoogleCloud.

https://www.sap.com/products/hana-enterprise-cloud.html?pdf-asset=52acda47-987d-0010-87a3-c30de2ffd8ff&page=1

You will find that knowledge of the underlying Hyperscaler is also useful, for example when specifying what kind of customer site to Hyperscaler connection you need, for allocating IP ranges and handling subnetting and peering, when setting up DNS delegation and so on.

 

Study for the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer certificate

I recommend studying for the certificate: Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer – the landing page is here:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-engineer

The reason to recommend this certification, is that by studying for this, you will really learn how Google Cloud works, what the most important IaaS and PaaS services are, and how to configure them and use them. So this is a fairly essential body of knowledge, for anyone wanting to do SAP architecting on Google Cloud. The reason I suggest taking the exam, is because for me, an exam always makes me study harder, and so the learning stays in the hippocampus much better and longer.

The exam topics are listed here:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/guides/cloud-engineer

From this landing page you can also register to take the exam. The page is basically just a list of exam topics i.e. not a very detailed guide on how and what you should study 😀 … however, there is an Official Study Guide for the exam, published by Wiley:

https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Official+Google+Cloud+Certified+Associate+Cloud+Engineer+Study+Guide-p-9781119564416

https://www.bookdepository.com/Official-Google-Cloud-Certified-Associate-Cloud-Engineer-Study-Guide-Dan-Sullivan/9781119564416?ref=grid-view&qid=1621845792181&sr=1-2

If you (or e.g. your boss, employer, or other sponsor) can afford the 40-50 USD price, then I definitely recommend this book. It’s good at explaining the basics, is focused on the exam topics, has a set of tricky questions at the end of each chapter, gives access to an online practice test set, and even though it is two years old (so some of the screenshots are out of date), still the main concepts and services are similar today. In fact, it might even be a good thing for your learning, if you need to search a bit in Google Cloud to find the new locations of various services.

While we are on the topic of the Google Cloud console, I highly recommend you get yourself a Google Cloud subscription right now, so that you can look around and do experiments:

https://cloud.google.com/getting-started

As of May 2021, newbies get 300 USD of credits, so that your first experiments are in effect for free.

Another link you will want to bookmark, is for the Google Cloud online documentation:

https://cloud.google.com/docs

Now there is more online documentation than any one person could reasonably be expected to go through in a lifetime, so what I recommend is looking for specific areas where you want to learn more, and choosing pages from that category.

Another useful site is the landing page for tutorials:

https://cloud.google.com/docs/tutorials

For a really good hands-on learning experience, I recommend signing up for Qwiklabs:

https://www.qwiklabs.com/

There are some costs associated with doing the labs (you can either buy a time-based subscription or via credit card pay for particular Quests, etc), and I recall that some labs are more expensive (consume more “credits”) than others. (I was lucky and got a subscription for couple of months via participation in some Google-sponsored event, however this blog and author honestly cannot advise you on how to find the right kind of sponsor – like I said, I was just lucky!).

The nice thing about the exercises is that you are really using Google Cloud to do these, it isn’t a simulated lab environment. There are lots and lots of exercises available, and most of them are well thought out. Here are some relevant Quests, you can no doubt find your own Quests and individual labs:

Google Cloud Essentials, Baseline:Infrastructure, Cloud Engineering, Networking in the Google Cloud, Kubernetes in Google Cloud.

Next, I would recommend joining Coursera and signing up for this specialisation (run by Google Cloud Training on the Coursera platform):

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/gcp-architecture

You can enrol for free, or if you want to get a certificate you can pay for that (I didn’t). In any case it’s worth going through these courses. Note that these courses include (free) Qwiklabs exercises, so there is some hands-on experience to be gained.

Also on the same platform, Google Cloud Training offer this relevant preparation course:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/preparing-cloud-associate-cloud-engineer-exam

Some good hints and tips there.

When you have studied Google Cloud for a while, you can try the brief set of sample questions:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/sample-questions/cloud-engineer

Quite difficult? Well, that is actually the whole idea: you see what you don’t yet know well, so you go and review the documentation and come back older and wiser to get a perfect score 😀 .

If you decide to take the exam, good luck now. In any case if you studied some of the materials above, you will have a reasonable idea of what Google Cloud is and how it works.

This blog isn’t going to discuss much about the other Google Cloud exam-based certifications, but for those who are interested in the fine details of how Google Cloud handles networking, I recommend this certification path:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-network-engineer

– it’s not easy, and there’s no Wiley guide (at least there wasn’t when I was studying), but you can teach yourself a lot using the online documentation and Qwiklabs. If you want to spend a few euros on e.g. a one-month subscription, then I would recommend the many parts of this course by Matthew Ulasien which used to be on Linux Academy – as Linux Academy was acquired it seems by A Cloud Guru (“ACG”), so the Linux Academy courses were moved to ACG – therefore, from May 2021 onwards, to find the course by Ulasien, first go to the ACG site and sign up:

https://learn.acloud.guru/dashboard

Then use the search term “GCP Network Engineer Track” to find the 4 “main parts” of this course.

Also there is a very good set of practice exams (again, you’ll need the ACG paid subscription), as well as a “part 5” of Ulasien’s course which focuses on revision; exams and revision course are findable in ACG using search term “Google Cloud Certified Professional Network Engineer”:

 

SAP on Google Cloud – resources, an easy certificate, and a How-To tutorial

As of May 2021, Google Cloud does not offer any truly exam-based certification for running SAP workloads on Google Cloud; here is the current list of GC certifications:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/register

However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn – there is always more to learn than any one of us can ever hope to learn. You can start by looking at the SAP on GC documentation, which is here:

https://cloud.google.com/solutions/sap/docs

You might want to start with the Overview of SAP on Google Cloud page, and then browse the left-hand menu-of-categories for areas of specific interest, such as SAP NetWeaver or SAP HANA.

Google do offer a certificate of sorts in SAP on Google Cloud, through the Coursera platform:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/deploying-sap-google-cloud

As with many Coursera courses, you can either take the free track, or if you want a nice verified certificate then you can pay some euros (it was 41 EUR when I paid, in December 2020). This is a nice course, covers all the main topics about which IaaS components and services you will need to be familiar with, as well as reference architectures and deployment considerations.

Google estimates that it takes 18-24 hours of study to complete the course. In any case this course will not turn you into a subject matter expert, but it goes through the basic concepts well, and will help you when you are thinking which parts of the documentation to view or review. Because the quizzes and exercises are quite easy, and the course coverage is wide but not deep content-wise, so comparing to e.g. Microsoft’s AZ-120 Azure for SAP Workloads certification, this Google Coursera certificate doesn’t carry the same kind of weight on your CV. Maybe Google will at some point come up with a professional certification for SAP on Google Cloud – time will tell.

For those interested in the AZ-120 certification, there are couple of blogs on that, one by me, the other more in-depth by Denys van Kempen:

https://blogs.sap.com/2021/05/22/pass-notes-for-az-120-azure-for-sap-workloads-certification/

https://blogs.sap.com/2021/02/06/get-certified-microsoft-certified-azure-for-sap-workloads-specialy/

Last item: if you are interested in a How-To tutorial which shows how to install SAP NetWeaver Developer Edition (a product that SAP makes available for free to developers) on Google Cloud, then there is this most excellent blog:

https://sap-on-gcp.blogspot.com/2020/09/blog-post.html

Yes that blog was also written by me, plenty of blatant self-promotion going on here 😱😂. Have a look though – even without doing the exercises, it can give you a feel for how Google Cloud is. One friend of mine did actually go through the whole tutorial to build a working SAP instance, he deserves an ice-cream.

In real-life SAP deployments, you would tend to use automation where possible (see for example the Terraform section of the blog) rather than the web-based Console, as automation has many advantages including reducing human error, repeatability, and so on. (Also in real life, you wouldn’t make your SAP instance so easily available to the big bad Internet to attack, but the topic of security for SAP on public cloud is so big that it had to be mostly out-scoped from both this blog and the one on Blogspot).

 

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