Comparing Google and Amazon Pro Architect Certifications



Amazon Web Services Certified Solution Architect Professional (AWS CSA Pro) took me a lot more time to study for than Google Cloud Platform Professional Cloud Architect (GCP PCA). They fundamentally test the same skills in terms of matching appropriate services to customer needs, but there’s just more of AWS, and greater fractal detail (that’s often changed over time).


In my previous post on certification I mentioned that DXC’s CTO Dan Hushon asked all his CTOs to get a cloud or DevOps certification prior to the company launch in April 2017. I went for AWS CSA Associate, and after 3 years it was about to expire. So with a half price exam voucher at my disposal I decided to try levelling up to CSA Pro.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy. CSA Pro has a formidable reputation. But I’d already done the Google equivalent with PCA, and by some accounts that was supposed to be harder.

Study time

It took me something like 12 hours to get from Google Associate Cloud Engineer to Professional Cloud Architect using a combination of Coursera, Qwiklabs and Udemy practice tests.

The journey from associate to pro with Amazon was somewhat longer – I’d estimate that I spent something like 42 hours running through Scott Pletcher’s excellent A Cloud Guru course[1], White Papers and Udemy practice tests. Part of that is there are just more services in AWS, and part of that is the practice questions (and answers) just have more detail. The whole thing was more of a grind.

The foreign language comparison

At the end of my 3rd year at high school we’d completed the French curriculum with two weeks left to spare, so our teacher spent those two weeks teaching us Spanish. I learned as much Spanish in two weeks as I’d learned French in three years[2]. Spanish was just easier to get to grips with due to fewer irregularities.

In this case GCP is like Spanish – mostly pretty regular with a small number of exceptions that can easily be picked up, and AWS is like French – lots of irregularity all over the place, which just needs to be learned[3].

And the ground keeps moving under our feet

All the clouds keep growing and changing (which is why they demand re-certification every 2-3 years). But it seems that AWS is perhaps more problematic in terms of things that were true (usually limitations) being invalidated by the constant march forward. In this respect GCP’s progress seems more orderly (and perhaps better thought through), and hence less disruptive to the understanding of practitioners; but maybe that comes at a cost of feature velocity. Cloud services are after all a confusopoly rather than a commodity, and certifications are ultimately a test of how understandable the service portfolio is in relation to typical problems an architect might encounter.


In terms of intellectual challenge I’d say that working with either platform as an architect is roughly the same. But AWS has more to learn, and more irregularity, which means it takes longer, so if asked which certification is ‘harder’ I’d have to say AWS.


[1] I know that I’ve previously stated that I’m not a fan of learning from videos, but Scott’s course might be the exception to that. It was wonderfully dense, and I also appreciated being able to learn on the move with my iPad.
[2] Subsequently I found myself dearly wishing I’d been just a bit worse at French, which would have led to me doing Spanish ‘O’ Level, which I might just have passed – I failed French (not helped by a combination of dyslexia and negative marking for spelling mistakes).
[3] Of course I come at this with the benefit of being a native English speaker, and so the even worse irregularity of English is largely hidden to me, because I never had to learn it that way.

One Response to “Comparing Google and Amazon Pro Architect Certifications”

  1. A detailed review on Google and Amazon. I like your comparison of AWS and Google to French and Spanish :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: