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Author's profile photo Denys van Kempen

Get Certified: CKA | Certified Kubernetes Administrator

In this blog post you will find some personal insights about how to get certified as Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) by the CNCF and Linux Academy.

For insights about the Cloud Foundry program, see

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Once you passed the exam, you will receive a digital badge from Credly.

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About the Exam 

CNCF

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program was created by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), in collaboration with The Linux Foundation. The program was introduced in 2017 and updated in 2020.

SAP is a platinum member of the CNCF together with companies like AWS, Apple, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat, VMWare, and many others.

CKA

Information about the exam is published on the CNCF website. This is also where you can register for the exam and access exam resources like the candidate handbook.

The CKA program was introduced in 2017 and renewed in 2020. The certification is valid for three  years.

The cost of the exam is a bit above market average. There are, however, occasional discounts of which the Cyber Monday deal (up to 60% off) is the most predictable.

The candidate handbook and certification FAQ is maintained on the Linux Foundation website.

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Topic Areas

Exam Page

What you need to know is maintained in the exam curriculum.

The curriculum is regularly updated. Make sure to check the CNCF GitHub repository before taking the exam.

Exam Format

The CNCF / Linux Foundation exam is very different from the multiple choice question-type exams commonly used for certifications. Instead of answering many questions, you need to complete a limited number of activities, using commands and a browser terminal.

You have access to the documentation (see below) and in theory could simply look up how to perform the activity. In practice, however, you would need a few days using this approach and not the two hours at your disposal. Hence. being familiar with the documentation is important as is some fluency working with the Linux shell with an editor like vi(m), in order not to waste precious time.

Image source: https://docs.linuxfoundation.org/tc-docs/certification/lf-candidate-handbook/exam-user-interface

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How to Prepare

Introduction to Kubernetes

If you are already familiar with containers, a good place to start is the Linux Foundation course hosted by edX. in a few hours, you learn the backgrounds of container orchestration, the architecture, security, services, storage, and networking.

The LFS158x course is free but as with most edX courses, you can get access to the questions and final exam by paying a fee and receive, assuming you manage to pass the tests, a certificate of completion.

Kubernetes Fundamentals

The CKA preparation course by the Linux Foundation covers what you need to know for the exam. Each topic is introduced with a short video, some reading material, links for additional information, and lab exercises.

As with the exam, the training assumes you are familiar with Linux system administration and know how to handle a command line editor. Anticipate a steep learning curve otherwise.

In addition, a lab environment is not included. The material does include a short video how to create your own lab environment with Google Cloud but this assumes some familiarity with GCP, GCE, and GKE. Again, anticipate some challenges here. Using a local setup with Minikube will not not suffice for the installation and cluster configuration topics.

As the LFS258 course is a bit of a deep-dive, the rating perhaps is a bit below a consistent five star. However, I would recommend the course exactly because it is challenging and forces you to get out of tutorial-video-binge-watching mode and get hands-on with a terminal and documentation. You will appreciate having learned the necessary survival skills when you take the exam.

Kubernetes Exam Simulator

As the exam is 100% hands-on, the best preparation is to practice, practice, practice.

The good news is that when you sign up for the exam, you get access to two sessions on the Kubernetes Exam Simulator. Should you with to practice a bit more, you can purchase additional sessions for a very reasonable fee.

The simulator will help you get familiar with the type of questions you can expect, setting the context, how to approach the activities, working with YAML generators, vi(m), command line aliases, and other time savers.

Documentation

For the exam you have (and need) access to the Kubernetes documentation. The better you know the docs, the more likely you pass the exam.  Make sure to read the Concepts section, go through the Tutorials, try out the Tasks, and bookmark your favourite YAML recipes.

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Additional Resources

Kubernetes Training | anynines (Free)

For a free training course by CNCF and Cloud Foundry Foundation member anynines (a9s for those that dig k8s) created for the Cloud Computing lecture at the Saarland University of Applied Sciences (HTWdS).

For the playlist on YouTube, see

This course provides a more gentle introduction to the cold shower approach of the Linux Foundation yet includes lab exercises and the necessary documentation references. The course is under development and does not cover all exam topics.

There is also a Container Basics training. As you might have guessed, as container orchestration administrator you are expected to be familiar with containers.

Katacoda (Free)

O’Reilly’s Katacoda is another free resource you can use to put on your lab coat and practice your Kubernetes skills.

There are a lot of labs available through Katacoda, each covering different scenarios, many out of scope of the exam, so make sure to keep the exam objectives at hand and avoid lab burn-out. To narrow down the menu options, you can also access the labs via any of the instructors, e.g.

You do not have to enter any command in a Katacoda lab, just click the link, and with a bit of practice you might be able to finish a lab in less than 30 seconds. Unfortunately, at the exam you will have to enter commands, so you might want to take the opportunity for some practice and enter commands whenever you can. Using aliases is perfectly legal and nothing stops you from going off-script and practice what you want to learn.

Play with Kubernetes (Free)

For more practice, you can request a free 3-hour session on Play with Kubernetes labs site provided by Docker.

 

Running Kubernetes clusters is expensive. The platform is very popular so you might get an out of capacity messages. Please try again later…

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Books and Tutorial Videos

There is a lot of learning material available about containers, Kubernetes, and the CKA certification. This is great news for the lifelong learners. However, for those wishing to pass the exam it may be more of a distraction and not necessarily the best way to prepare.

Practioners warning: no amount of book reading or video tutorial watching will suffice to pass the exam. Hands-on experience is required. Make sure to spend most of your time in the lab, not on your couch.

KubeAcademy (Free)

VMware’s KubeAcademy offers several learning paths and video tutorial courses about containers and Kubernetes of great quality and at no charge.

For some advice how to prepare for the exam, see

KodeKloud (Paid)

The popular and highly rated KodeKloud CKA course on Udemy is similar to the Linux Foundation LFS courses but with (much) more training tutorial content, labs, and several mock exams. You can access the material from the company website directly or through Udemy.

Kelsey Hightower (Free)

Kelsey Hightower is a CNCF Top Ambassador, open-source contributor, engineer at Google Cloud, book author, and keynote speaker. To learn how to build a Kubernetes cluster from scratch, see

For a good read (and a free copy), see

Nigel Poulton (Paid)

Nigel Poulton has been writing creating learning content about containers since 2014. For his books and video courses, some also available on Udemy and Pluralsight, see

LinkedIn Learning (Paid)

For those with a subscription, there are many courses about Kubernetes and containers on the platform. Use the ratings and publication date for the most relevant material. For a short CKA exam tips course, see

Pluralsight (Paid)

For those with a subscription, there is a 19 hour CKA Certification Prep Path on Pluralsight presented by Anthony Nocentino with lab demos and many exercises.

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For the author page of SAP PRESS, visit

Over the years, for the SAP HANA Academy, SAP’s Partner Innovation Lab, and à titre personnel, I have written a little over 300 posts here for the SAP Community. Some articles only reached a few readers. Others attracted quite a few more.For your reading pleasure and convenience, here is a curated list of posts which somehow managed to pass the 10k-view mile stone and, as sign of current interest, still tickle the counters each month.

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