Certified Kubernetes Administrator Exam Review

I successfully took and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam last week, just before the cutover happened for the new test and blueprint. I have been studying and using Kubernetes pretty heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was grateful to accomplish this goal for 2020. Fortunately, studying for the CKA exam was one of the few things that was made easier during the pandemic!

Downloading and reviewing the blueprint for the exam is the first thing I did back in May. I wanted to now what was expected and try to figure out what areas I lacked experience in. From there it was a matter of finding the correct study materials and leveraging the home lab to use Kubernetes and go through the core concepts for the exam.

You can check out my earlier posts on how to deploy Kubernetes inside a VMware SDDC environments here.

The CKA exam is my favorite type of certification — practical application. As such, having experience with Kubernetes in a hands-on situation is really going to benefit you the most. Within my lab, I made sure there were several different Kubernetes clusters, running multiple versions and multiple CNIs and supporting pods. I feel this approach really assisted me with all of the exercises I worked through in my preparation.

There is a lot of great content out there right now on how to prepare for the CKA exam. I know several co-workers who leveraged Kelsey Hightower’s Kubernetes the Hard Way curriculum on GitHub. I focused mostly on the KodeKloud CKA practice labs and practice exams the past 3 weeks to finalize my preparation. I went through each practice lab several times to make sure I understood the concepts properly, and then performed each lab in both the KodeKloud simulated lab environment, but also on 2-3 Kubernetes clusters in my own home lab.

The exam itself was not as difficult as I anticipated, but it still took nearly the full allotment of time to complete the 24 exam questions. The questions themselves were clearly written and the expectations from each question was clearly called out — there was no ambiguity on what I tasks that were expected. The best part of a practical exam, especially one like the CKA exam, is the ability of the candidate to check their work and know that the question was fully completed before moving on.

During all the practice labs, I also created template YAML files and posted them inside a GitHub repository — GitHub.com/virtualelephant/cka-studyguide. This was just one more way to reinforce the learnings as I went through and practiced the various exercises on multiple clusters.

A few callouts:

  • Understand how to interact with etcd and where to find the certificate paths that will be required when using the etcdctl CLI.
  • Understand how to run a Pod on a specific node at start-up.
  • Understand how to run a Pod on a specific node based on labels.
  • Understand how to create users and assign them roles and privileges.
  • Leverage the -o wide syntax for all kubectl commands. The additional information it provides, saved me several minutes when debugging or troubleshooting an issue.

That was it for me. I think overall it was one of the better certification tests I’ve taken in my career. I am looking forward to driving into the deep-end now of the VMware Tanzu portfolio and continuing to understand where the Open Source offerings in the Kubernetes space line up and compliment the systems.


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