CloudSkills.fm

099: Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for Azure Pros with Elkhan Yusubov

Episode Summary

Mike’s guest today is Elkhan Yusubov, a principal cloud architect, an Azure subject-matter expert, and an Azure Technical Trainer. He’s here to talk about cross-training on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for Azure pros.

Episode Notes

Though there are many challenges when training across cloud platforms, there are many similarities that make the process easier. Mike’s guest today is Elkhan Yusubov, a principal cloud architect, an Azure subject-matter expert, and an Azure Technical Trainer. He’s here to talk about cross-training on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for Azure pros. Elkhan’s goal is to help other people as cross-platform expertise can only benefit everyone!

In this episode, we talk about…

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Episode Transcription

Mike Pfeiffer:
Hey, what's up everybody? It's Mike Pfeiffer and you're listening to the Cloud Skills FM Podcast.

Mike Pfeiffer:
All right, everybody, welcome back to another episode of Cloud Skills FM. Thanks for tuning in as usual. Today's episode, we've got Elkhan Yusubov back on the show. He's a principal cloud architect. He's an Azure subject matter expert. He's an Azure technical trainer as well. And we're talking about Google Cloud platform today because he's basically cross training on that platform and he's got some perspective to share with us today. Elkhan, what's up, man?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Hi, nothing much actually. Doing that day job and trying to stay living in a multi-cloud world.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, the whole multi-cloud thing. Yep. We were just talking about that yesterday on a call that I was on inside the cloud skills community about strategy for 2021. And that's one of the things that I'm going to be looking at. I've been saying that for awhile, but I'm going to finally spend some time getting into Google. And so what are your thoughts so far on Google cloud platform? You've got a lot of Azure experience, so what's been your hot take on what you've seen so far at GCP?

Elkhan Yusubov:
My take was that GCP is much different than Azure and AWS. Of course, they're trying to catch up these two big players. That's another secret. Everybody knows that. But they have their unique offerings in terms of how they approach to the whole based networking idea. That they have this global network and they own their fiber. And plus, in terms of providing this fast connectivity and machine learning type of services, which is niche service I would say, they are pretty outspoken about that. And they are just trying to grab the market share and plus make their presence available to the developers, to the architects, to the businesses so that businesses know that, "Hey, there's a Google Cloud as well," and we are coming strongly to catch up this other device. That what I believe is the kind of thing that's going on with this Google Cloud platform.

Elkhan Yusubov:
And they are very big about this. They have this weekly show, it's about sharing the information about how to get the people certified, how to make their services known by tech community. So I think they are putting a lot of effort into getting noticed and stick to this big three in cloud world.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. There's a lot of good points there. And one of the things that I wanted to touch on too, was that when you're getting into these multi-cloud conversations, one of the things I've noticed, sometimes just the company, you've got all these teams and the teams have different goals, and sometimes it's just like you get sucked into doing multiple platforms. And in a lot of businesses, people are setting up the center of excellence to get multiple teams talking to each other, to go off and do these projects. And I know that you're involved with the cloud innovation and center of excellence. It's the place that you're working. Is that something that you guys are looking all these different vendors and trying to come up with a strategy for 2021?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes, you're right. As you mentioned, it's a team sport, right? When you are in a multicloud environment, it's a team sport and you need to have this dedicated kind of expert level people who are within the same company, sharing the same values of promoting that for the business needs. Because at the end of the day, all this multicloud and everything, we do that to serve our customers, to get the job done for them in a way that's efficient for their workloads. And based on that perspective, and to be on front of the innovation, there's a central excellence department in our company called [inaudible 00:03:42] solutions. And what we do there is basically takes this trusted, proven leader in providing high quality and normative IT modernization solutions and professional services.

Elkhan Yusubov:
And even though we are a mid tier company, we have the strengths and maturity of a large business and agility with small business making possible for us to respond in timely manner and cost effective. Cost-effectiveness is very important. And if you did your year census Bureau, filing online this year, this was accomplished by tech solutions. But how this all happens is because of this push from CTO I would say leadership to the innovation and to this digital confirmation where they see that, "Hey, Cloud innovation needs to be in the central feed. And this is something where we need to put our brightest minds to serve our customers."

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, it's a challenge. Right? And obviously, we've talked about all kinds of different platforms on the show, but the audience is largely a Microsoft Azure focused audience. And there's a lot of parallels, right? Of course, with any other platform, because they're basically have like services in every platform. They got virtual machines and all this different stuff, but it is a challenge because there's terminology that's different and stuff like that. So in your mind, now that you've been spending time looking at both Azure and Google Cloud platform, what are the kind of main challenges in learning something like GCP and then what are some tricks somebody could use to get started quickly if they already know Azure?

Elkhan Yusubov:
That's really great question because I had that question way back in the beginning of the year, before the pandemic actually started. And the first thing that come is those challenges are real and they are something that everybody will have to go through. So I started to look into what other people are doing and what the LinkedIn community and other social media people are doing. And I found that even though there are challenges, but there are a lot of identical and a lot of similarities as well that we can use.

Elkhan Yusubov:
So challenges are basically born from the perspective that each cloud has their own use case, right? Their own niche. And even though they want to serve everybody, but in reality, if you look at the workloads, and if you look at are they more open source leaned or are they are more enterprise or Ecommerce leaning toward that areas? You will see that talents are different in each cloud where they are focusing. And I would say, from my perspective, I get involved with Microsoft documentation in GitHub. And I saw that there was no mentioning anything about how I can compare services with Google Cloud, that Azure already have in place.

Elkhan Yusubov:
There was already a competition for AWS. So I want to give credit to whoever created that, but GCP was not there. So I contacted back from GitHub, the owner, the author who is doing and say, "Hey, why not we have this GCP here? Do you need anything? I'm doing [inaudible 00:07:00] project, let me contribute into that." And he was very open to that. So we collaborated. There was certain things that I added, a lot of things come from that person because he already did some type of comparison before me. So we put this to my proportional contribution, I was very happy that at the end of the day, we got this GCP two Azure service comparison in Microsoft docs. And I was the first person who received the notification that, "Hey, it's available. Thank you for your contributions."

Mike Pfeiffer:
That is awesome. I'd like to just highlight that for a second because I get a lot of questions of how do I get some experience? And if you don't have a role where they're putting you into the field, working on these projects, I like the idea of open source. And I think that I've confused people in the past in saying, go into open source because you automatically just assume, "Well, now I've got to build an app." But documentation is open source. Microsoft's documentation, Azure, AWS. And so what you did there is amazing. You went and collaborated with Microsoft. You suggested a topic, and now in the documentation, you helped write the GCP to Azure service comparison that'll help people that already know Azure learn GCP. So number one, not only is that an awesome resource, but number two, that's a great tactic for anybody that's trying to raise their profile in the industry, show some leadership, and create content.

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes, definitely. It was something that I was already doing. I was interested in that and I said, "Why not help other people?" If it's not there, just raise awareness. And I'm pretty sure, as you said, Microsoft had like in last six years or four years, there was a big change in Microsoft. They are open source. They are embracing open source. And they get copies, not beautiful example of that, and being able to reach to the authors and contribute there and be part of this solution. It makes you happy. And plus, you feel that you are a part of the community.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I really like that. We'll put the link in the show notes so people could go off and find that. You can also just Google it. And so moving forward from there, another great way to obviously learn another platform is go through certifications. We talk about that all the time, but let's talk about Google's certifications. I know that if you're getting started, the associate cloud engineer is kind of the first one, right?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes, yes. This is a stepping stone when you are getting your feet wet with Google Cloud Platform. So you're getting hands on and it's actual requirement that you have to be hands on, even for the first level certifications that Google cloud has in place. They did the broad job, but it's not a business, but more like tech focused. Not like you have this in AWS, GCP, or Azure fundamentals. They also embrace the business part I would say. They talk more about that, but these Google associate called engineered exam, it's actually focused on engineers. So you have to be engineer, you have to do some stuff. And the bright side of this learning and sharing this Google Cloud platform capability is that you will discover a lot of new things and at least you would get your fundamentals right in terms of how this engineering and core services are different in Google Cloud than in Azure.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I was just kind of looking at the associate cloud engineer page on the Google Cloud documentation. So it looks like they're expecting you to know how to set up your environments, do some planning, configure, implement some kind of solution, enable successful operations, configure security. So it sounds pretty doable, especially if you already understand your way around Azure. Did you say that there's hands-on lab type of work in the exam? So you got to do like performance-based type questions?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes, I think they are testing some of the knowledge that they require to learning. And there's something similar simulation happens that you get from QuickLeaps. So, Qwiklabs, and now as a provider, I think they partner with Google Cloud. So they provide those hands-on training there. And nowadays, Google, because they are pushing their technologies very hard to catch up with others, and if for example, I'm a Cloud [inaudible 00:11:21] and I want developers, architects, use my Cloud things, I need to make sure that they know this information, it's accessible. Preferably it's free, right? Because you know, the more free information you have and valuable it is, people can find it earlier.

Elkhan Yusubov:
So from that perspective, I think they did a lot of good investments into these examinations and put the information that you need for them. And also to the labs. They made very big investments there. So from my perspective, I would say that I need this certification not just an [inaudible 00:11:59] certification under my belt, but it's more like verifying and assuring yourself that okay, your understanding of this cloud platform are in line with, best practices are in line with the suggestions and guidelines that Google Cloud wants you to know.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I was just looking again at the certification page. So in addition to that associate level cloud engineer, it looks like there's a professional level of sort. So that covers like architecture. So there's a cloud architect, cloud developer, a dev ops engineer, security engineer, network engineer, and on and on. It's kind of like start with the associate level, graduate up to the professional level and yeah, I like Qwiklabs too. You mentioned them, that's a great place to go and get some hands-on practice.

Mike Pfeiffer:
But also wanted to ask you, I know that you've taken to the social media platforms, like LinkedIn and stuff, sharing some of your learning journey with GCP and Azure stuff. And what are some of the things that have happened in your career since you've been kind of socializing what you've been learning?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Actually, since I started socializing my interests to the cloud community, a lot of positive things happen in my career. A lot of positive things. I would not connect them directly to the number of certifications that I passed this year. And it's kind of good or bad, but because of pandemic, we were all locked in and working from home and we didn't have to spend time for commute drive, which is kind of a blessing. And I tried to use this time wisely and invest my time into continuous learning. And as a matter of that, yes. Okay. So I found it that it actually taught me that there are certain similarities. There are certain cloud architecture practices that are shareable across the clouds. And this is really powerful because once you get knowledgeable in one cloud, which in my case, it's Microsoft Azure, I found that those common cloud architecture practice are actually duplicatable in other cloud platforms.

Elkhan Yusubov:
And what I mean by that, I mean these pillars of architecture of excellence, which we are using a lot in our company interact solution for all the projects that we have. Which starts basically with those journey where you have to consider cost optimization, no matter which cloud you go to, you have to put that into the table. You have to put operational excellence into the table and be knowledgeable about that. You have to look into performance and efficiency of the services that you are using and know the limits and use cases. And you have to know the reliability part. How much you can use for your service level agreements for SLA so they are coming from the projects that you are involved. And the most, another way big important piece is a security, right?

Elkhan Yusubov:
No matter what cloud infrastructure, even though you'd like your regular Netflix, if you are an on-prem and date centers, if security is not cornerstone of your solution, you are losing from day one. And I would say this advancements in security for the cloud platforms, the way how they go and the way how they automate that, has actually helped a lot for this digital transformation that happened to this COVID-19 pandemic. If reliable security and all those services that actually help you to automate it wouldn't be in place, we'd be in very bad shape now. Because there are a lot of bad actors, right? Everybody online. Everybody's remotely working for their work whenever they have disk to build and if they have place to work from home. At that point security is paramount.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. The governance stuff is usually a challenge. Security is a big one. Totally agree. And just to highlight and go back to what you said, I couldn't agree more about finding the common patterns from one platform to the next because it reminds me of when I started programming, doing things like C-sharp and stuff like that. And once you learn a C based language, like, "Oh, JavaScript's actually kind of easy to pick up after that," that type of thing. And it's the same thing with these cloud platforms. You find the patterns in one, and then it's going to start to show up in the other ones. Thinking about AWS Lambda, the serverless functions platform on Amazon, they have a Google Cloud function, or Microsoft's got Azure functions. So it's like, you start to learn a lot more than you realize when you get good with one platform because you can carry those skills over to another one because there's common patterns.

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes. I totally agree. It's kind of like, on your brain you're putting these neurons or connection between, "Okay, this is the category of serverless functions," for example. So I have this in a cloud A. So what can be brought in from cloud B? And because you know the use case for that service function, so you know what's the benefits of using, what's benefits of having them in your architecture, then you can easily map them from one cloud to another and be not just very well-versed in one cloud, but have a good understanding overall in the architectural understanding overall between the clouds, which we call multicloud.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, definitely. And the last thing I'll touch on from that last section, just about architected frameworks that cover that low-hanging fruit. Microsoft's done a good job of modeling what AWS did with a well-architected framework. So it covers things like you mentioned, the cost optimization, operational excellence, performance, reliability, security. And to your point, that's stuff you should totally be paying attention to. And in Google Cloud as well. I don't know if they have a well-architected framework, but you could focus on those pillars, right? And then just kind of do the same thing.

Elkhan Yusubov:
They do have something similar. I didn't dig into that, but they do have something when I was looking at that. But if you look at, in terms of comparison, they are not straightforward. Every cloud has their own approach into how to run them efficiently and cost effectively and reliably and securely. In that terms, this is common term that applies to any cloud. However, they are not straightforward. There are certain things that each cloud has their own flavor of specific customer use cases that are linked over.

Elkhan Yusubov:
For example, in Microsoft Azure, as they are coming from this enterprise background that they used to have, so they bring this wealth of information of governance, enterprise security, and plus supporting the development efforts into their cloud so that they can be very good. They can accelerate your digital transformation from your on prem or data centers into the cloud. If you are more focused with the enterprise grade and already have services that are running the workloads and services that Microsoft workloads and services on-prem or in your data center. However, if you are an Ecommerce, you are doing some Ecommerce and you're leaning more towards open source things, then AWS can be a good one.

Elkhan Yusubov:
So what I'm trying to say here is that just to sum up, you need to know your use case, the strengths, and what you are trying to accomplish for your customers. And based on that, make the sound choices for your customers. It's not about I like AWS Cloud or I don't like that cloud, this cloud. It's about making a sound choice, a good choice, based on facts, for your customers. Because that's what we are expected to do.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That's a good point. Focusing on delivering value to the business and not getting your own interests wrapped up in it. Right? So that's a good way to start. That's some great perspective getting started with Google Cloud. But a couple of things I just want to wrap up the show with and hear about what you've been working on over the last six months, because I know that there was a bunch of certification stuff you did on the Azure side, and then you've been putting out content and stuff. Can you share a little bit about what's been going on since you've been locked up from COVID like the rest of us?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yeah. So that was actually a very good journey because in that last six months, as you mentioned, I took this re-certification challenge first because I was already doing some architecture, but it expired. So I have to re-certify that. And then I say, "I don't want to stop here. Why not continue this journey?" And I got the following, after that, I went and got my DevOps [inaudible 00:20:30] certification. Then I went into the security to verify my knowledge and get things that I don't know about. Then I went to the AI and data engineering.

Elkhan Yusubov:
So once I completed all this certification, it was a very good learning opportunity for me to complete the loop on that role based certifications that we have in Azure. And, [inaudible 00:20:52] would say I almost got them all, but there are a few that I need to renew or take it again. So I'm planning to complete this loop. If I'm successful to get all this role based certifications, and, not to brag about it, but make sure that whatever I'm saying, whatever I am trying to promote on LinkedIn, actually, I know what I'm talking about and I'm not missing core important pieces of these solutions.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, absolutely. Everybody's trying to find a way to learn more about this stuff and so highlighting whatever works for you might be something that somebody can latch onto. So yeah, absolutely. Let's get into that a little bit. So basically what you're saying here is all the stuff you've been doing has been giving you energy to keep going forward. Right? And so it's been sharing, creating content, going on other podcasts, blogging, and stuff like that. I couldn't agree more. Because you have to have a reason to force yourself to learn this stuff because there's so many people that aren't getting it at work, but they know, "Hey man, this is coming. And I got to start getting my eyes on this and getting ready for this." So yeah, I really agree with that. Giving yourself a compelling reason to keep pushing it because it's not easy to motivate yourself. What have been some of the things that have motivated you the most in this journey?

Elkhan Yusubov:
I think my motivations actually came from seeing other people's success. Because once you see that other people are successful and this cloud journey actually empowers them, you say, "Why not I'm not in the same boat? Can I do that myself?" That was one of the reasons that I said, "Okay, let me contribute to the community." Because through contributions, you can learn more. While you are teaching something, you have an interest, you will learn more, you will expand your knowledge. And one way of doing that for me was through this publishing the several study guides for the Azure certifications that I passed, because it's not all success stories. There are failure points where you run from your failure, you don't pass exams sometimes, you fail it. Let's be open about that. And how you overcome that.

Elkhan Yusubov:
And I would say the biggest motivator at that point is that even though when you share your failure on exam or on the thing that you do, that support is coming from the LinkedIn family. They say, "Yeah I've been in the same boat. You will do much better next time." And this gives you those positive vibes that keep you going on this, keep you pushing up. You want to keep going. I would say each failure actually makes you much more stronger in cloud journey because from that failure, you learn that what are the shortcomings in your knowledge or understanding, and you can focus more and be better expert in that because you already are trying. And you get this motivation from your LinkedIn supporters, from your family members hopefully, and other people who are close to you. And will just carry on. And you would say, "Okay."

Elkhan Yusubov:
If somebody asked me, being honest, in 2019, in the beginning before pandemic hit, you would go and get these 18 badge so you would pass more than 13 exams this year. I would say are you kidding me? Is it possible.? But now I would say, is all the support, is all this motivation? I saw so many youthful, bright minds in LinkedIn that are motivating others and trying to get ahead of the curve by also passing these exams, getting the tapes, making shows like you do. Thank you, Mike, for that, no cloud skills [inaudible 00:24:24]. It's a great motivator.

Elkhan Yusubov:
That was one of the things that I said, "Okay, if that show is there, I got to watch it. I got to listen to that because I'll get something interesting from there. And if it is aligned with what I'm doing, great. If it's not, I would be aware about the trend, I would be aware about what's going on, and I would not be behind the trend."

Mike Pfeiffer:
I really agree with the advice about failure and stepping into the unknown, the fear, pushing against that. But to your point, you're going to get beat up a little bit and that's what's going to make you transform into a new version of somebody that knows the cloud a little bit better. To your point as well, like community, if you're socializing that, people are going to support you, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter because the technical community's extremely engaged on those platforms especially. There's others obviously, but that's true.

Mike Pfeiffer:
And the other thing I guess that I would say to that would be that a lot of people aren't starting because they're worried about looking bad. But you're not going to hit a home run, usually, on your first at bat in the major leagues, right? You're going to have to get beat up a little bit along the way. And so I think we all need to embrace that a little bit better. And to your point, we need to support each other in that model and then socialize what we're doing.

Elkhan Yusubov:
Yes. Just let me add something here. That's why they call it the cloud journey. We don't call it cloud certification or cloud success. We call cloud journey because there'll be a lot of failure points and learning them, getting stronger, will just make us much better at that.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I agree. So as we close out this show, where should we send people to find all the stuff you're working on?

Elkhan Yusubov:
Great. Well, let me see. So first of all, I am very outspoken and I'm blogging about that and posting on LinkedIn. So check my LinkedIn profile, please. Secondly, there are a number of global events where I was presenting and some of them have been recorded. So you may check them as well. I will put the links there. That's the main places where I'm learning and plus trying to contribute to the community. And if you feel that you have any questions or you get stuck in your cloud journey, or you have something to share with everybody and you want somebody to do that on your behalf, feel free to reach out to me, message me. I'm usually responding back. And I'm really, really interested in getting connected with other professionals because the more we grow our community, the stronger the community will be as we all benefit from each other

Mike Pfeiffer:
All right, Elkhan Yusubov, thanks so much for being on the show. Everybody go check the show notes and check out the resources for this one. And we'll see you guys on the next episode of Cloud Skills FM.

Mike Pfeiffer:
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