KCNA Certification Addresses Kubernetes Skills Shortage

The Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) have combined their respective training expertise to create a Kubernetes certification for IT professionals.

IT professionals that pass the Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA) multiple-choice exam will be able to prove they have mastered the fundamentals of managing a Kubernetes environment. The two open source consortiums have also made available an online Kubernetes and Cloud Native Essentials (LFS250) training course to prepare IT professionals for the exam.

Specifically, the exam is intended to demonstrate knowledge of basic kubectl commands, Kubernetes architecture, the overall cloud-native landscape and security, among other things. In addition to those fundamentals, the exam addresses container orchestration, governance, observability, telemetry and application delivery.

Katie Gamanji, ecosystem advocate for the CNCF, says the KCNA certification will provide a foundation for the development of other certifications and offers a starting point for certification candidates that want to tackle other certification tests, including Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) and Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS).

The exam also provides a means of addressing the current Kubernetes skills shortage by addressing entry-level training requirements, adds Gamanji.

Most IT professionals are conflicted when it comes to certifications. Most would prefer to be judged by their hands-on experience rather than whether they can pass a multiple-choice test. However, human resources professionals often rely on certifications to determine which IT professionals to interview, so the surest path toward being hired for a role or increasing their salaries is for IT professionals to gain certifications. IT professionals that gain, for example, Kubernetes expertise are often working toward becoming site reliability engineers (SREs) and can command salaries that are significantly higher than the average IT administrator.

While Kubernetes itself has been around since 2014, the platform is just now being more widely adopted by mainstream enterprise IT organizations. Kubernetes is simultaneously the most powerful and the most complex IT platform to be deployed by enterprise IT teams in modern times. It provides IT operations teams with orchestration capabilities needed to scale container workloads up and down on demand to help curtail infrastructure costs. However, deploying and maintaining Kubernetes clusters requires a significant amount of IT expertise that is challenging to find and retain.

In the longer term, the hope is that advances in automation will make it easier for mere IT mortals to build and deploy applications on Kubernetes platforms which will drive a new era of hybrid cloud computing. No one knows for certain how long it might take to achieve that goal. While more cloud-native applications based on Kubernetes are being deployed in production environments, the bulk of applications in the enterprise are still based on monolithic architectures.

Ultimately, the biggest issue holding back further adoption of Kubernetes is the general lack of IT expertise. The KCNA certification represents a significant effort to address that shortage by making it easier for IT professionals to acquire the entry-level skills required to succeed. Once that foundation is laid, the rate at which Kubernetes is being deployed should substantially increase.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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