Google Cloud Platform (GCP), providing a series of cloud computing services, is a solution platform powered by the same infrastructure used by Google itself internally. GCP, together with Chrome, Google Analytics, G Suite, and so on, are included in the Google Cloud, which is a part of the broader Google ecosystem.

Being powerful, transparent, and customer-focused, GCP attracts a lot of companies that seek for secure and efficient cloud solutions. The computing solutions supported by GCP can be categorized based on three core features: infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS), and software (SaaS). And Google has developed several comprehensive online courses that are available on Coursera for beginners to have an overview understanding of GCP structure and hands-on lab experience on basic developing skills as well. After self-studying the first two introductory courses on Google Cloud infrastructure about foundation and core services, I will share my own learning experience and evaluate the course content in this blog.

Visualizations Help the Understanding

Being multi-functional and developed over a decade, Google Cloud Platform provides so plentiful of products and services that users may find it time-consuming to comprehend the correlation between them and choose the most suitable one for the first time.

The most apparent advantage of the courses is that visualizations are available for every chapter for better understanding. Not only the intersections and differences among services and product will be illustrated, but the decision-making process will be shown in the decision tree format. For instance, if the client requires to migrate the local data to the Cloud, you can easily find out the best solution to create the database according to the illustration below.

Besides the availability of visuals describing the function of product and service, the conceptual design about how a solution helps the client can also be visualized, for example, how a specific product presents Google’s high-level idea to promote Cloud computing. You can hence grasp the core feature of the service provided by GCP — client-oriented.

Labs Are Always Available

Hands-on experience is quite essential to equip yourself with Cloud engineering techniques. While not all courses about Cloud will provide tutorial recourse, there is a lab session in every chapter about GCP courses developed by Google. More appealing, the Qwiklabs, which contains lab material, will activate a temporary account for you to access GCP for free. All you need to do is to follow the detailed instruction in Qwiklabs, and the system will generate the assessment itself.

The lab session follows a pattern of preview-labs-review. In the review session, the instructor will go through the lab step by step and explain the hidden logic behind it. Sometimes the instructor will share the personal experience on the development procedure, such as some tricks in using the Cloud Shell and how to handle the error messages. So, it is highly recommended to view the review session after each lab to improve your developing efficiency.


Cost Deduction Guideline Is Provided

The budget is always a concern. As mentioned in the introduction, the courses reflect the transparency in Google’s client services, that you will always be aware of the pricing. At the very beginning of the first lab session, you will be told to avoid using your own Google account to access Qwiklabs. “We don’t want you to get any unexpected bills at the end of the month”, said the instructor.

Throughout the courses, the price evaluations are provided with detailed instructions on how to select the most financially efficient product or service, mainly in table format. For example, the pricing for Cloud network service with different traffic types can be seen in the course. And you are always encouraged to seek help from the GCP pricing calculator for further calculation.

Several advantages are derived from pricing transparency:

· Externally, comparisons can be made among GCP and other Cloud platforms.

· Internally, comparisons can be made among different products and services provided by GCP.

· Decision making will be accelerated, especially for those companies that are new to the Cloud.


Any Alternative Solution?

You will realize the importance of this question after finishing these courses. Sometimes an alternative solution not only cuts the cost but also improves the implementation efficiency. GCP creates a solution continuum connecting infrastructure, platform, and software, which allow solutionists to be considerate and creative.

Consider the situation that you plan to move to the database on the Cloud. You can try to create a personal virtual machine in Compute Engine, install open recourse MySQL on it. In another way, you can apply the MySQL instance on Cloud SQL Service to handle the operational work using the same service that Google does. Or you can even migrate the data into a NoSQL instance which is auto-scaling and serverless. And you will be able to explore more alternative solutions in future courses about the platform and software.

In all, the course “Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Foundation” and “Essential Cloud Infrastructure: Core Services” developed by Google team, are comprehensive and significantly beneficial. You can feel the course developers trying to organize the course content in a beginner-friendly way, with multiple lab sessions and visualizations. If you are new to the Cloud field and eager to have hands-on experience on the power Google Cloud Platform, these two courses are definitely your top choice.

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