Preparing for the Certified Kubernetes Administrator Exam

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Why Get Certified with Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Exam?

The use of Kubernetes is growing at an incredible rate. Having such unprecedented growth also means it’s very important to find the right talent to manage Kubernetes. 

There are various reasons for the popularity of Kubernetes. It is not only well-architected and extensible, the community is awesome. A lot of projects are being built around Kubernetes. At a minimum one or two new projects around Kubernetes are launched for every Kubecon, which is a cloud native conference that is conducted thrice yearly. These are projects that are presented at Kubecon. There are way more projects in reality. 

Hence, The Cloud Native Computing Foundation(CNCF) & Linux Foundation(LF) have created CKA, CKAD and CKS(coming soon) certifications.

Getting certified with CKA means you’re knowledgeable to perform administrative tasks in a Kubernetes Environment. 

Apart from establishing credibility, CKA is needed in the below cases 

  • For a service to be eligible for Kubernetes Certified Service Provider(KCSP), the company must have at least 3 CKA’s.
  • To get certified with Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS), you should have completed CKA.

I hope I have convinced you that getting certified with CKA is a good thing to consider. Now, let’s move to getting certified.

About Exam:

  • The CKA exam is conducted by CNCF, a subsidiary of LF.
  • The exam is two hours long.
  • The exam consists of 15-20 performance based tasks. (No multiple-choice questions; everything is hands-on)
  • You get six clusters with varying configurations and capacities to work with.
  • The exam is valid for three years from the date of issue.
  • The exam is proctored by a remote proctor through audio, video and screen sharing feeds.
  • You get two attempts, which should be availed within 1 year. If you clear the exam in the first attempt, then you will not get a second attempt.
  • You can open one extra tab apart from the exam tab to view Kubernetes Docs and GitHub repository of Kubernetes.

Recent Updates to the CKA Exam:

I took the exam before the update (at version 1.18) and the update is rather big this time around. Usually the update for the CKA exam only updates the Kubernetes software version of the environment but the update from 1.18 to 1.19 version of the exam brought various changes to the CKA exam itself.

  • The duration of the exam has been shortened to two hours from three hours.
  • There are fewer questions in the exam (previously, it was 24).
  • The passing score is reduced to 66%.
  • You can always find the updated curriculum here.
  • Security has been removed from the curriculum altogether, as there is a new certification for that.

Previously the CKAD was mostly considered a subset of CKA with a few additions. Now with the update, we can see(from the curriculum) that CKA and CKAD are more distinct and focused than earlier versions of the exam.

Books:

I’ve never gone through any books, but if you prefer books and want to read something, here are a couple of books that I keep hearing about:

  • Kubernetes in Action
  • Kubernetes Up & Running

Courses:

At this point in time the course has not updated the curriculum to the latest version. The course is updated at times so we might see an update soon. But still would recommend this course as this is the most detailed course with a lot of content.)

  • For a fun & challenging Kubernetes learning and practice go through this free course on KodeKloud. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you might just love it – Game of Pods

Note: At this point there is no course which is up to date with the latest version of the exam 1.19

  • This is not a course but a really good resource to get you to understand Kubernetes. This sets up the infra on Google Cloud but you can imitate it locally also – Kubernetes The Hard Way. This resource does not use kubeadm which simplifies the cluster creation. Knowing just the kubeadm way is also enough for the exam.

Preparing for the CKA Exam:

Troubleshooting weighs the most as per the new curriculum, so it is very important that you had lots of practice.

There are various ways you can practice. Not all exercises need a full-fledged cluster to work with.

  • Katacoda – is an online platform where you can provision a playground and work with a Kubernetes cluster right from the browser. Apart from the playground there are various exercises available which you can follow without any local setup.
  • Minikube – is a software which will set up a local Kubernetes cluster. It is simple and easy to use. It is used by a lot of people for the local Kubernetes Cluster.
  • Kind – stands for “Kubernetes in Docker”. It is the fastest local Kubernetes cluster deployment tool. I highly recommend it.

Note: Some exercises like building a cluster or troubleshooting a node cannot be done with the above methods. You’ll need actual nodes and deploy a full Kubernetes Cluster with kubeadm.

Apart from courses above, it’s important to get familiar with Kubernetes official docs. Most importantly, go through:

Tips for the Exam:

  • In the exam you’ll only get one terminal to work with, so it is useful if you could learn to use tmux – it enables you to split your terminal into multiple terminals.
  • Don’t write yaml, Generate yaml the imperative way. Imperative way is generating yaml with kubectl. – Managing Kubernetes Objects Using Imperative Commands.
    For example:
    kubectl run node –image=busybox -o yaml –dry-run=client
    will generate a yaml output to the terminal with above details. This is a simple one, as the input gets larger and yaml can get confusing, the imperative way can be a lifesaver in such times.
  • Since the exam itself is in Chrome, it is often a good idea to disable Ctrl+W for the period of exam. I’m used to linux and to close almost anything I hit Ctrl+W, if you’re like me be sure to disable this shortcut for the duration of the exam. Also traditional Ctrl+C, Ctrl +V also won’t work in the exam environment.
  • Enable kubectl auto-completion for efficiency. This is a step you shouldn’t miss
    source <(kubectl completion bash)
  • I’m used to typing commands so I’ve skipped this step. But, you can set some aliases of a few commands to your comfort and put it in bashrc file like
    k = ‘kubectl’
    kgp = ‘kubectl get pods’
    and so on

My Experience:

Certified Kubernetes AdministratorAt the time of my exam, the exam had 24 tasks for 3 hours and it was ample time for completing the exam. Here’s my certification on Acclaim . After the completion of the exam, I received the result within 3 days.

All the Best for your Exam:

Keep in mind that questions are shortened, meaning weightage for each question will increase. CKA  Exam duration is shortened, so be careful with time management in the exam. 

Don’t be afraid to take the exam since the curriculum has changed. Prepare and practice well and give it your best shot. If it misses, you’ll still have a second attempt.

If you have any further query, feel free to comment below.

Good Luck and do share your experience in the comments section if you attempt the exam.

 


Co-Founder at F-drones | IIT Bombay


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