How to Pass the KCNA - Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate

Yesterday I took the Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate Exam (KCNA) certification exam, and this morning I got the results that I passed, yey! While some may consider it a beginner-level exam, it does require a solid foundation and practical experience with Kubernetes and related Open Source projects to successfully pass.

The KCNA certification exam is conducted online and costs $250, which includes one free retake. If you do not pass on your first attempt, you have the opportunity to take the exam again within one year of your initial purchase.

I’ve compiled a list of 15 options to build a Kubernetes playground and I highly encourage you to get hands-on experience by playing with any of the tools mentioned in my blog post. Familiarizing yourself with the kubectl command line is crucial and the practical, hands-on approach solidifies your understanding of Kubernetes and allows you to internalize the concepts more effectively.

Now, let’s delve into the key domains covered in the KCNA exam:

Key Domains

Kubernetes Fundamentals (46%)

To excel in this domain, you need to have a deep understanding of:

  • The problem Kubernetes solves
  • The architecture of Kubernetes and the roles of its components
  • The hierarchy of Kubernetes components, from Cluster to Node to Pod to Container
  • Concepts such as services, deployments, replicasets, daemonsets, statefulsets, configmaps, secrets, network policies, RBAC, service discovery, manifests, autoscaling, and load balancing
  • The required elements in a Kubernetes manifest
  • The usage of kubectl and common Kubernetes commands
  • Knowledge of YAML and JSON
  • The ability to extend the Kubernetes API

Container Orchestration (22%)

  • Understand the problems that Container Orchestration resolves
  • You must have an overview of the different types of Open Standards:
    • Container Runtime Interface (CRI) and different runtimes available
    • Container Network Interface (CNI)
    • Container Storage Interface (CSI)
    • Service Mesh Interface (SMI)
  • What Namespaces and Cgroups are

Cloud Native Architecture (16%)

  • How the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is structured
  • Serverless tools for Kubernetes
  • Helm and Helm charts

Cloud Native Observability (8%)

  • You must be able to define observability and know the difference between logs, metrics and traces
  • What is Prometheus and Grafana
  • Common kubectl commands to view logs of pods, specifications, dry-run etc

Cloud Native Application Delivery (8%)

You need to define and understand various tools and concepts related to application delivery in a Cloud Native environment. This includes:

  • DevOps
  • GitOps
  • CI/CD
  • What an SRE does

Resources to study

To further enhance your understanding and preparation for the KCNA certification exam, here are some recommended resources:

Tips for taking the KCNA certification exam

  • Sign into your exam at least 30-15 minutes before the start time. The proctor needs this time to check your ID and review your workspace via your webcam.
  • Since the KCNA exam is conducted from home, it’s important to have a clean and non-cluttered space available to you. Make sure to prepare your workspace the day before the exam. Remember, you must be alone in the room during the exam, so plan accordingly.
  • Keep in mind that you need to have your webcam and audio on throughout the exam. As this can drain your battery, remember to have your laptop charger handy.

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