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Previously we learned about what the Red Hat Certified Architect certification is and what exams are included in the “OpenStack-focused” version of the certification. This week we want to focus on personal experience and benefits from achieving this milestone.
Let’s be honest, even for the most skilled engineers the path to becoming an RHCA can be quite challenging and even a little bit intimidating! Not only do the exams test your ability to perform specific tasks based on the certification requirements, but they also test your ability to repurpose that knowledge and combine it with the knowledge of other technologies while solving extremely complex scenarios. This can make achieving the RHCA even more difficult; however, it also makes achieving the RHCA extremely validating and rewarding.
Many busy professionals decide to prepare for the exams with Red Hat Online Learning (ROLE), which allows students to access the same robust course content and hands-on lab experience delivered in classroom training from the comfort of their own computer and at their own pace. This is made even easier through the Red Hat Learning Subscription (RHLS).
RHLS provides access to the entire Red Hat courseware catalog, including video classrooms, for a single, convenient price per year. This kind of access can help you prepare for all the certifications. We found that before sitting an exam, it was important to be able to perform 100 percent of the respective ROLE lab without referring back to any documentation for help; with RHLS this is much easier to do!
While documentation and man pages are available during an exam, they should be used as a resource and not a replacement for deep knowledge. Indeed, it’s much better to make sure you know it by heart without needing to look! We also found that applying the comprehensive reviews found at the end of each ROLE course to real world scenarios helped us better understand how what we learned in the course applied to what we would do on a day-to-day basis.
For example, when taking the Ansible ROLE course DO407, which uses a comprehensive virtual environment and a video classroom version, we were easily able to spawn instances in our own physical OpenStack environment and apply what we had learned in the course to the real world. By putting the courseware into action in the real world it better allowed us to align the objectives of the course to real-life scenarios, making the knowledge more practical and easier to retain.
What about formal training?
We wouldn’t recommend for anyone to just show up at the examination room without taking any formal training. Even if you feel that your level of proficiency in any of these technologies is advanced, keep in mind that Red Hat exams go very deep, covering large portions of the technology. For example, you might be an ‘Ansible Ninja’ writing playbooks for a living. But how often do you work with dynamic inventories or take advantage of delegation, vaults or parallelism? The same applies for any other technology you want to test yourself in, there is a good chance it will cover aspects you are not familiar with.
The value comes from having the combination of skills. Take the example of an auto mechanic who is great at rebuilding a transmission, but may not know how to operate a manual transmission! You can’t be an expert at one without knowing a lot about the other.
For us, this is where Red Hat training has been invaluable. With every exam there is a corresponding class provided. These classes not only cover each aspect of the technology (and beyond) that you will be tested on, but also provide self-paced lab modules and access to lab environments. They are usually offered with either a live instructor or via an online option so you can juggle the education activities with your ‘day job’ requirements!
More information about the classes for these exams can be found on the Red Hat Training site.
How long does it take?
It doesn’t have to take long at all. If you already have an RHCE in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenStack is not a new subject to you, the training will serve as an excellent reminder rather than something that you have to learn from scratch. Some people may even be able to complete all 5 exams in less then a month.
But does everyone want to go that fast? Probably not.
When our customers ask us about what we recommend to achieve these certifications in a realistic timeframe we suggest the Red Hat Learning Subscription to them. As mentioned, it gives you amazing access to Red Hat courseware.
But it is more than that.
The Red Hat Learning Subscription is a program for individuals and organizations that not only provides the educational content to prepare you for the exams (including videos and lab access), but also, in some cases, may includes actual exams (and some retakes) at many Red Hat certified facilities. It is is valid for one year, which is plenty of time to work through all the courses and exams.
This kind of flexibility can help to shape an individual learning path.
For instance, imagine doing it like this:
With the Red Hat Learning subscription you could schedule all the exams in advance in two month intervals. These exams then become your milestones and give you a good predictable path for studying. You can always reschedule them if something urgent comes up. This lets you sign up for classes, but don’t take them too far apart before your exam. Then re-take all the self paced labs a week before your exam, without reading guided instructions. After that you should be in a position to assess your readiness for the exams and reach the ultimate goal of an RHCA.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pass on the first try, it’s not unusual even for subject experts to fail at first try! Simply close the knowledge gaps and retake the exam again. And with RHLS, you’ve got the access and time to do so!
The benefits of becoming RHCA can be substantial. Outside of gaining open source “street cred”, the most important aspect is, of course, for your career - it’s simple: you can get better at your job.
And of course, being better at your job can translate to being more competitive in the job market, which can lead to being more efficient in your current role and potentially even bring additional financial compensation!
But becoming an RHCA is so much more. It helps to broaden your horizons. You can learn more ways to tackle real life business problems, including how to become more capable of taking leadership roles through translating problems into technology solutions.
As a proud Red Hat Certified Architect you will have the tools to help make the IT world a better place!
So what are you waiting for ... go get it!
Ready to start your certification journey? Get in touch with the friendly Red Hatters at Red Hat Training in your local area today to find all the ways you can master the skills you need to accelerate your career and run your enterprise cloud!
About the authors:
Chris Janiszewski is an Red Hat OpenStack Solutions Architect. He is proud to help his clients validate their business and technical use cases on OpenStack and supporting components like storage, networking or cloud automation and management. He is the father of two little kids and enjoys the majority of his free time playing with them. When the kids are asleep he gets to put the "geek hat" on and build OpenStack labs to hack crazy use cases!
Ken Holden is a Senior Solution Architect with Red Hat. He has spent the past 3 years on the OpenStack Tiger Team with the primary responsibility of deploying Red Hat OpenStack Platform Proof-Of-Concept IaaS Clouds for Strategic Enterprise Customers across North America. Throughout his 20 year career in Enterprise IT, Ken has focussed on Linux, Unix, Storage, Networking, and Security with the past 5 years being primarily focused on Cloud Solutions. Ken has achieved Red Hat Certified Architect status (RHCA 110-009-776) and holds Certified OpenStack Administrator status (COA-1700-0387-0100) with the OpenStack Foundation. Outside of work, Ken spends the majority of his time with his wife and two daughters, but also aspires to be the world’s most OK Guitar Player when time permits!