You always wanted to challenge yourself regarding your knowledge in cloud native technologies and skills that are necessary to architect a modern container-orchestration-platform?

All that supported by complimentary technologies from the Cloud Native ecosystem like Kubernetes, Helm, Velero etc. under aspects of continuous delivery of your applications?

Then I got good news for you! There is an exam released by VMware – a technology vendor which is very active in the Kubernetes world – which checks your knowledge and skills in this topics: The VMware Master Specialist – Cloud Native certification.

After using Kubernetes, Container-Images and software from the Cloud Native ecosystem in my projects for many years, I decided to finally challenge myself.

Long story short, I finished the Cloud Native Master Specialist exam in 2021. Yippeah! It was quite a challenging one.

In this blog post I would like to share my experience with the exam and instruct you with some useful links to achieve the certification.

To give you a basic understanding I would like to give you some insights about the exam in general.

Exam Info

The VMware Cloud Native Master Specialist exam is a multiple-choice exam with about 67 questions, where you always get 4 possible answers of which 1 is correct. It is available online and proctored via Pearson Vue (https://home.pearsonvue.com/).

You get 100 minutes - resulting in about 1.5 minutes per question - and it costs about $250. There is no free retake unlike the CKA exam.

In addition, you need at least 300 out of 500 points to pass, which means you need to score at least 60%.

Believe me, even though 60% sounds good at first, it's pretty hard as the questions are quite tough!

No use of the browser or other programs is allowed and you will be observed throughout the exam. No one else inside the room is allowed and all tables and walls must be empty.

Prerequisites

CKA/CKAD

First it is a hard requirement to pass the CKA exam (Certified Kubernetes Administrator). I have both CKA and CKAD (Certified Kubernetes Application Developer) certifications, so that was not a big deal.

For the CKA you should read and get to know the full documentation of Kubernetes.io​, do e.g. an Udemy course like this one: Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Practice Exam Tests and you should already have some hands-on experience with Kubernetes. For instance you could try to deploy "Kubernetes the hard way" (https://medium.com/fme-developer-stories/kubernetes-the-hard-way-on-aws-8fe7a9cb17b1) by yourself.

Especially the Udemy course is pretty helpful since it ships with an included Kodekloud practice training​. This practice training also contains three mock exams which helped me a lot to see how the CKA exam looks like. Be aware that the CKA and CKAD exams are practice-oriented exams, not multiple-choice tests. You need to solve issues inside a kubernetes cluster as well as deploy stuff, upgrade/operate clusters etc.

VMware Certified Professional - Application Modernization

When I did my Cloud Native Master Specialist in 2021, there was no hard requirement for the exam except the external CKA exam.

That changed with the new VMware Master Specialist - Cloud Native 2022 exam. Now you need to have already achieved the VMware Certified Professional – Application Modernization 2022.

Here is a short summary by VMware about this exam:

»The VCP-AM certification validates a candidate’s expertise with VMware Tanzu Standard Edition including vSphere with Tanzu, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and Tanzu Mission Control. This certification also demonstrates fundamental cloud native skills including containerization, Kubernetes, and application modernization.«

Preparations

First of all, there is no Udemy course or any other good way to prepare for the exam, apart from the list of links that VMware itself provides. You need to understand Kubernetes in depth and a few tools like Velero, Helm, Docker, Sonobouy etc. To achieve a great result, I would recommend you to build at least one Kubernetes Cluster like e.g. described in https://acloudguru.com/course/kubernetes-the-hard-way or by building one yourself e.g. on EC2 with kubeadm. This will help a lot to understand Kubernetes in its depth. But you should also read all of the material provided in the aforementioned links!

 

There are three blog-posts that I can highly recommend:

https://itq.eu/knowledge/vmware-cloud-native-master-specialist-exam/

https://johannstander.com/2020/02/26/vmware-cloud-native-master-specialist/

https://mankowit.se/2020/09/vmware-certified-master-specialist-cloud-native-2020-passed/

 

Most important topics include:

  • Kubernetes basics (Pods, Nodes, Deployments, StatefulSets etc)
  • Network: (Ingress, LoadBalancer, NodePorts, Network-Policies..)
  • Namespace Separation vs Cluster Separation
  • FluentBit / Logging / Metrics (Prometheus!)
  • Webhooks (Mutating / Validating)
  • RBAC (Roles & Rolebindings)
  • Secrets / ConfigMaps
  • OIDC (dex in particular)
  • LDAP, PSPs
  • 12factor Apps
  • CNI (Flannel)
  • Basic understanding of AWS is pretty helpful (such as AWS VPC)
  • Helm (Best practices)
  • Sonobouy (purpose, basic commands)
  • Velero (purpose, basic commands)
  • Open Policy Agent (OPA)
  • Building docker images (Best Practices, Multi builds)

Good luck to everyone trying to pass the CKA, CKAD, VMware Certified Professional – Application Modernization or VMware Cloud Native Master Specialist!

Tags: Cloud Computing