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What is Google Cloud? Here's what you need to know

What is Google Cloud Platform? We explain why businesses, developers, and IT professionals should try to learn about GCP.

Published onMarch 21, 2021

What is Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform (GPC) is, as it’s clear from its name, a cloud platform, or an “Infrastructure as a Service” (Iaas). This means it offers a suite of tools, services, and apps that businesses can use to enhance productivity and workflow. Those include cloud storage and backup, database management, developer tools, IoT, analytics, machine learning, and more.

In this post, we will attempt to fully answer these questions: what is Google Cloud? Is Google Cloud certification a worthwhile investment for professionals? Does GCP offer the services your business needs? Let’s find out.

An introduction to Google Cloud

Android developers that frequent this site may be familiar with Firebase. It is a mobile application development platform that provides various useful tools developers can use when building their apps.

While the majority of an app’s code will run natively on the user’s device, most will also need to defer to the cloud for a variety of different functions. For example, you may need to let a user log-in using their Google account. You might want to store their user data on the cloud too (so that they can still access it after changing devices), or you might want to use voice recognition/computer vision that would be slow to process on-device. To that end, a developer will outsource these features to an online service like Google’s Firebase.

See also: An introduction to Firebase – the easiest way to build powerful, cloud-enabled Android apps

To see how this might work, check out our post on adding face-recognition via Firebase and ML Kit.

Any Firebase project is also a GCP project, and many of Firebase’s functions are simply delegated to Google Cloud. In fact, mobile developers will often be sent to the Google Cloud console, which has a different, blue and white UI. In this way, Firebase acts as a front-end for Google Cloud that is optimized for mobile developers specifically.

Firebase logo

Thus, a Google Cloud Project works in precisely the same way, but with broader applications. Companies can use Google Cloud services in just the same way to power their apps, websites, in-house software, and tools. Google provides hardware (servers) and software in an always-connected manner that businesses can rely on.

A company can leverage GCP when storing user data, integrating machine learning into their services, adding additional security measures, or backing up databases.

Google Cloud vs AWS vs Microsoft Azure

As mentioned, GCP is just one of several competing cloud platforms. The next question then, is what is Google Cloud best at? When should you choose one over the other?

The two biggest competitors are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. These platforms similarly offer “infrastructure as a service” (IaaS), but vary in terms of pricing and the specific features offered.

Amazon Web Services is the largest and most widely used cloud platform today with a 33% market share. This is followed by Microsoft Azure, which has a market share of 16%. Google Cloud lags behind with just 8% of the market.

See also: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud – Which certification is best for professionals??

However, while Google Cloud is not the most widely adopted and has fewer services overall, it is popular for specific tasks. In particular, Google Cloud is known for its machine learning capabilities, powered by the excellent Tensor Flow platform.

Tensor Flow Google Cloud

As machine learning and AI are major focusses for many businesses in 2020, this is an important advantage.

What is Google Cloud certification?

Google Cloud certification demonstrates that an individual has expertise using Google Cloud services. This means they will be able to help businesses to integrate these cloud services into their workflow: an in-demand skillset for many organizations.

There are a number of different Google Cloud certificates available:

  • Associate Cloud Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Architect
  • Professional Data Engineer
  • Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Network Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Security Engineer
  • Professional Collaboration Engineer

Applicants must pass an exam in order to gain certification. Exams cost between $125-$200.

So, is this a worthwhile investment for IT professionals? The short answer is yes for a great many people. Though AWS and Azure are more widely used, many companies still choose Google Cloud. And with machine learning becoming increasingly integral to many services and products, the demand for certification is only likely to grow. Many IT professionals would benefit from gaining certification with all three major cloud platforms.

That said, certifications like these should be considered as a way to augment a well-rounded resume. Most employers will still prioritize experience and qualifications over certifications.

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