The blurb

We all need some help occasionally. Nobody more than me. That’s because I don’t really know what I’m doing half of the time. When you find yourself in a bit of a pickle on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), there’s a few options available to get help — no, calling the Batman is sadly not one of them. In this article, I’d like to share with you my tips for getting help with GCP. These have worked really well for me over the years. That said however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you — and bear in mind that this list is not mutually exclusive either!

1. Official Google Cloud support

If you’re running any serious production workloads on GCP, then having official Google Cloud support is a must in my opinion. There are different levels of support, and picking the right one will depend on your needs — and how deep your boss’ pockets are. Over the years, I’ve had a pretty good experience dealing with Google’s official support teams. A quick tip when using the official support channel is to add your team’s support email address to the ticket. This saves you the tedious job of forwarding any updates to them, and it keeps them in the loop for any serious issues.

2. Public Issue Tracker (PIT)

If you can’t afford official support because you’d rather use that money to bring the team out for beers, then this is the next best option. Not a lot of people know about the PIT, even though it’s listed on the official GCP docs under the support section. The PIT is a great way to file bug reports and to raise feature requests too. Issues are ranked and prioritized according to the number of stars they receive. For example, here are the top starred issues for BigQuery. Note: you need to be signed into a Google account to access and use the PIT.

3. Stack Overflow

Where would the tech world be without Stack Overflow? It’s saved my bacon a few times, and it’s a rite of passage for all budding software professionals. A place where we can copy and paste code from other people that are much smarter than ourselves, and take all the credit when your boss thinks you’ve saved the day again. High five!

The Google engineers, PMs and even the support teams are extremely active on Stack Overflow. I’ve rarely been left wanting after posting a question. It’s also a great way to give something back too. Instead of only asking questions, you can answer some too. Answering questions and receiving upvotes/points can be very rewarding — and addictive!

4. GCP Community Slack Channel

Slack is used by the majority of people nowadays. Mostly to send memes and giphy’s, and shoot the shit all day with friends and colleagues instead of actually working. But all that nonsense aside, it can actually be a good place to find some help for GCP. There’s an official GCP team that you sign up to here.

Some of the Google folks pop their heads up every now and then and help out. BTW, speaking of Slack, another tip is to create a channel in your team and hook it into the RSS feed of the release notes for the products themselves e.g. BigQuery, Bigtable etc.

5. Local Community Groups (‘GDG Cloud [city|town]’)

If you’re lucky, then you’ll have a local user group in the your city. Some areas even have several of them. The official ones (actually supported by Google) are called ‘GDG Cloud [city|town]’ e.g. GDG Cloud Melbourne.

These user groups are run by community members that are passionate about Google Cloud, and they generously volunteer their time to help organize and run them. They regularly have Google staff present, and it’s a great place to network, ask questions and even practice your public speaking skills. Of course, the cold beer and tasty pizza that is usually provided isn’t too bad either if you can’t be bothered cooking that night.

6. Twitter

Social media to the rescue again. Twitter is a great place to lurk..I mean participate. Not only is it a great way to stay abreast of things (as long as you curate your feed appropriately and block tweets with the word “Trump” in them), but many of the Google engineers and PMs are super active on the platform too. Some of them don’t even mind you asking them a question directly, but sometimes it’s hard to fit in 280 chars — unless you’ve mastered the Twitter skill of writing succinct tweets.

Here’s a great list of all the Developer Advocates from Google for GCP to get you started. There’s also the official GCP Twitter account here too. And, don’t forgot to follow me too of course. I promise not to be able to answer any of your silly questions.

The wrap up

Most of the options I’ve listed above are mentioned in the GCP docs, but I thought it would be nice to summarize them here on my blog. If I’m missed something or you have another tip for GCP support that you’d like to share, then feel free to write your own article. Just kidding — well kind of.