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New To Kubernetes? This CNCF Certification Is For You | Katie Gamanji


Guest: Katie Gamanji
Company: CNCF
Show: Let’s Talk

At KubeCon North America 2021, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced a new program called Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) certification. CNCF already has many advanced courses and certifications for cloud-native technologies. So what is this program about? Katie Gamanji, the Ecosystem Technical Advocate at CNCF explains that this program is meant for beginners and novices of the ecosystem. It can be seen as an onboarding certification that can also benefit managers, executives, and marketing folks who don’t have deep knowledge of these cloud-native technologies.

In this special episode of Let’s Talk Kubernetes @ KubeCon, Gamanji covers these points:

  • What is the focus and goal of this course?
  • What are the core components (curriculum) of the course/certification?
  • What’s the ‘real’ value of this certification for users and organizations?
  • What role did Gamanji play in the creation of this certification?
  • It’s entry level yet comprehensive course
  • Will it be available globally?

If you are interested in the certification, please check out this page. There is a beta going on which may give you ‘free’ access to the course.


Swapnil Bhartiya: This is Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to a special edition of TFR newsroom for KubeCon and CloudNativeCon. CNCF has announced the Kubernetes and Cloud Native associate certification. And today we have with us, once again, Katie Gamanji, ecosystem advocate at CNCF, to talk more about this certification. Katie, first of all, it’s great to have you on the show again.

Katie Gamanji: Thank you for having me again. I’m very excited to announce a new program for the Cloud Native community.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So let’s get started with the basics. Tell me a bit about what is this Kubernetes and Cloud Native associate program certification all about?

Katie Gamanji: So the KCNA exam actually resulted from the feedback from the community to have this more inclusive and beginner-friendly examination. Previously, if listeners are maybe familiar with the Kubernetes certification, currently, we have three levels of certification. This is going to be CKAD, CKA, and CKS. So Application Developer, Administrator, and Security Specialist. And all of these exams are aimed at very high-skilled professionals that have hands-on experience in production pretty much daily. Because the nature of the exam is you are pretty much faced with a terminal and you have to solve all of the challenges as part of the exam. Now, while this is a very good examination and a very good indicator of someone’s skills, it’s not necessarily friendlier for beginners or people who are just introduced or they’re new to Cloud Native and they don’t yet have that hands-on experience in production. So, the case in the exam is a multiple choice examination and it’s aimed at this kind of new beginners and novice within this ecosystem.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So it’s more or less like Kubernetes is onboarding kind of certifications of people who are fresh. They’re still…

Katie Gamanji: Pretty much. Yeah, absolutely. So I like to see this as kind of a on-ramp or onboarding or pretty much this is going to be the gate for you to, once you take this examination, it’s going to be easier for you to show your interest in Cloud Native, but at the same time, you’re actually going to have the first step to demonstrate your skills as well. So you actually have an understanding and you can actually showcase some proof of that as well. Because again, maybe to mention here, the Cloud Native landscape is, it’s quite wide. We have over 100 tools within, at the CNCF graduation, incubation and sandbox. So there’s a lot, plenty of projects, plenty of areas that Cloud Native encompasses. And we try to maybe identify these areas where, as long as you have the fundamental knowledge, it’s going to be easier for you to explore all the tools within the ecosystem. So we’re trying to, again, certify this fundamental knowledge of the individuals within the community.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you also talk a bit about some of the components are in the curriculum of this certification?

Katie Gamanji: Based on the name of the exam, which is Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associates, so major part of the exam is going to be focused on the Kubernetes fundamentals. So all of the individuals that will take the certification should be ready to understand the Kubernetes fundamentals. And we include the resources, we include the architecture, the APIs, how containers, how scheduler works and so forth. So pretty much how the main components are put together to provide this orchestration platform. Thereafter, we’re going to look into the fundamentals of the orchestration as well. So how the individuals are understanding the way we, for example, how the controller managers, or for example, how we do the packaging of an application using Docker or other Cloud Native tools as well.

Thereafter, we’re going to cover the Cloud Native architecture, and this is going to be more focused on autoscaling. And this does mean horizontal autoscaling, vertical autoscaling, cluster autoscaling. So everything which is in regards to how we do this Cloud Native architecture for scale, we’re going to cover some server lists as well, we’re going to cover governance, personas, open standards. So again, quite extensive, so we really want to kind of understand if an individual has an understanding of how this Cloud Native fundamentals and principles are built and provided for different tools within the ecosystem. And towards the end, we’re going to cover the observability and application delivery. So really, we’ll dig into the understanding of telemetry data. We’re going to have some questions about Prometheus, cost management, and when it comes to application delivery, we’ll talk about tools such as Helm, GitOps, including ArgoCD and Flux. So quite extensive, but at the same time, we’re really digging into that core understanding of the principles and fundamentals of the existence of the Cloud Native ecosystem.

Swapnil Bhartiya: As you said, it’s for very, very beginners who are getting started. What does this certification mean for them or for companies? Other certification, when you look at, as you mentioned the other threes, when you have passed those, we do know that, “Hey, you are able to handle these kind of things in production.” So it does… You wear a badge there, “Hey, I have done this.” So companies also look at that. But with this certification, what is the actual real value that is either for the people who are taking it and for the companies?

Katie Gamanji: So I’m going to mention the Open Source Job Report from this year, which pretty much mentions that hiring managers, they still have difficulties in identifying the Cloud Native technologies and practitioners. And based on the numbers, I think 92% of them do reported this difficulty. So how to identify those practitioners? How to identify the right people to do our call migration or to improve volume infrastructure and so forth? And as well, based on the reports, 72% of the employees are more likely to employ individuals that have a certification. So something, again, which is proving their skills. So coming from the market demand, this was, again, a gap we wanted to fill and KCNA, again, is a great example for us to fill that gap and actually provide that leverage for novice within the Cloud Native community.

Anyone who would take this exam, again, because it’s a multiple choice, it’s not hands on experience. So the multiple choice has this kind of entry-level character. So that means that you don’t necessarily need to be an engineer. For example, if you are a program manager or if you’re someone from the marketing department, but you’ve been, I don’t know, chatting with engineers within your organization and want to try and kind of do Cloud Native, this is going to be the right certification for you as well. And because you… Well, at the end of the day, you’re going to have that badge, but the badge is valid by the employers, as boosting the reports and the data. There is something, there is a gap in the market. Employers won’t identify those highly skilled engineers and practitioners, and this is going to be connecting the dots, pretty much. It’s going to be the bridge between the employers and the novice adopters or practitioners.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s talk about your role in creation of this program.

Katie Gamanji: I have been one of the co-leads for the KCNA exam. So currently we had four leads, including Chris Aniszczyk, which is the CTO of CNCF, Jeff Sica, and Divya Mohan, both of them community members as well. So we were the leads in creation of the KCNA exam. The purpose of a lead is pretty much, make sure that we have this holistic vision of all of the areas and all of the questions that are going to be part of the exam. Because, as part of the process, we had around 30 SMEs that were invited to contribute, to write the questions and pretty much provide their expertise for the exam.

Katie Gamanji: And as leads, we just needed to make sure that there is no overlap, that we have this vendor neutrality, which is at the core of the Cloud Native kind of nature and principles. And we pretty much had to make sure that it really covers not just the easy kind of questions, but really goes into some of the core characteristic of the Cloud Native. Again, vendor neutrality, mutability, we’re going to talk about open standards, the Kubernetes architecture, all of their resources as well. So it’s not something which is, I wouldn’t say it wouldn’t present a challenge. That’s the thing, it’s an entry-level examination, but you still need to be quite prepared to take the exam because it covers quite a few areas. So how the Kubernetes architecture would have the container. The Cloud Native architecture overall, what are the fundamentals there? We’re going to cover networking, security, observability, application delivery, including tools like GitOps. So yes, it’s entry-level, but it covers a wide range of applications as well. So it’s still there’s a level of preparation that’s required for this example.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So what you’re telling is that even if it is entry-level, it still had the characteristics of the CNCF Cloud Native communities world.

Katie Gamanji: Yes, I think that’s necessary to get individuals ready for a CKAD, for example, which is going to be the next level. We’re trying to keep the quality and the quality bar. Again, it’s not going to be something very kind of shady questions of very specific things that you can find hidden in documentation or something like that. No, we’re still going to focus on the high levels, but we really will dig into your core understanding. So, for example, within an application, we always have this pod. Pod is the atomic element within a cluster. But within a pod, we have containers and we have different types of containers. Things like that, we really have to have the understanding of the hierarchy of different resources and how these resources interact with each other. It’s not just going to be based on the definition, and you’ll actually need to understand how they connect and communicate between themselves to have this full application delivery within a cluster.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Now, most of the CNCF or Linux Foundation courses or certification exams are global. With this one, is it available everywhere? Anybody can take it or it’s for a specific region?

Katie Gamanji: So currently the KCNA exam is developed fully in English. So anyone who is able to understand English or understand technology using the English language, they would be able to take the exam. So we don’t have any restrictions in terms of the region. Now to actually maybe remove the language barrier, we are thinking to translate the exam in different languages to make it available in different regions around the globe. Currently, we are thinking to have translation in Chinese and in Japanese and hopefully more in the future.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Katie, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about this new subdivision program. And as usual, I would love to have you back on the show and I’m excited about our next conversation. Thank you.

Katie Gamanji: Thank you very much for having me and I hope everyone is going to have an extraordinary KubeCon.


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