Red Hat Certified Cloud Architect – An OpenStack Perspective – Part One

The Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) is the highest certification provided by Red Hat. To many, it can be looked at as a “holy grail” of sorts in open source software certifications. It’s not easy to get. In order to receive it, you not only need to already be a Red Hat Certified Engineer  (RHCE) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (with the Red Hat Certified System Administrator, (RHCSA) as pre-requisite) but also pass additional exams from various technology categories.

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Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

There are roughly 20 exams to choose from that qualify towards the RHCA. Each exam is valid for 3 years, so as long as you complete 5 exams within a 3 year period, you will qualify for the RHCA. With that said, you must keep these exams up to date if you don’t want to lose your RHCA status.

An RHCA for OpenStack!

Ok, the subtitle might be misleading – there is no OpenStack specific RHCA certification! However you can select exams that will test your knowledge in technologies needed to successfully build and run OpenStack private clouds. We feel the following certifications demonstrate skills that are crucial for OpenStack:

Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

The first two are strictly OpenStack-based. To become a Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack, you need to know how to deploy and operate an OpenStack private cloud. It is also required that you have a good knowledge of Red Hat OpenStack Platform features and how to take advantage of them.

A Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack is expected to be able to deploy and work with Red Hat Storage as well as have strong troubleshooting skills, especially around networking. The EX310 exam has recently been refreshed with a strong emphasis on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and advanced networking – which can be considered ‘must have’ skills in many OpenStack Telco use cases in the real world.

Since Red Hat OpenStack Platform comes with Red Hat CloudForms, the knowledge of it can be as crucial as OpenStack itself. Some folks even go as far as saying CloudForms is OpenStack’s missing brother. The next certification on the list, the Red Hat Certified Specialist in Hybrid Cloud Management, focuses on managing infrastructure using Red Hat CloudForms.  Where OpenStack focuses on abstracting compute, network and storage, CloudForms takes care of the business side of the house. It manages compliance, policies, chargebacks, service catalogs, integration with public clouds, legacy virtualization, containers, and automation platforms. CloudForms really can do a lot, so you can see why it is essential for certification.

But what about … Ansible?!

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Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

For workload orchestration in OpenStack you can, of course, natively use Heat. However, if you want to become a truly advanced OpenStack user, you should consider exploring Ansible for these tasks. The biggest advantages of Ansible are its simplicity and flexibility with other platforms (not just OpenStack). It is also popular within DevOps teams for on- and off-premises workload deployments. In fact, Ansible is also a core technology behind the Red Hat OpenStack director, CloudForms, and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. It’s literally everywhere in the Red Hat product suites!

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One of the reasons for Ansible’s popularity is the amazing functionality it provides through many reusable modules and playbooks. The Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation deeply tests your knowledge of writing Ansible playbooks for automation of workload deployments and system operation tasks.

Virtualization of the nation

The last three certifications on this list (the Specialist certifications in Virtualization, Configuration Management, and OpenShift Administration), although not as closely related to OpenStack as the other certifications described here, extend the capability of your OpenStack skill set.

Many OpenStack deployments are complemented by standalone virtualization solutions such as Red Hat Virtualization. This is often useful for workloads not yet ready for a cloud platform. And with CloudForms, Red Hat Virtualization (RHV) and Red Hat OpenStack Platform can both be managed from one place, so having a solid understanding of Red Hat Virtualization can be very beneficial. This is why being a Red Hat Certified Specialist in Virtualization can be so crucial. Being able to run and manage both cloud native workloads and traditional virtualization is essential to your OpenStack skillset.

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Photo by 贝莉儿 NG on Unsplash

Puppets and Containers

To round things off, since Red Hat OpenStack Platform utilizes Puppet, we recommend earning the Red Hat Certified Specialist in Configuration Management certification for a true OpenStack-focused RHCA. Through it you demonstrate skills and knowledge in the underlying deployment mechanism allowing for a much deeper understanding and skill set.

Finally, a popular use case for OpenStack is running containerized applications on top of it. Earning the Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration shows you know how to install and manage Red Hat’s enterprise container platform, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform!

Reach for the stars!

Whether you are already an OpenStack expert or looking to become one, the Red Hat Certified Architect track from Red Hat Certification offers the framework to allow you to prove those skills through an industry-recognized premier certification program. And if you follow our advice here you will not only be perfecting your OpenStack skills, but mastering other highly important supporting technologies including CloudForms, Ansible, Red Hat Virtualization, OpenShift, and Puppet on your journey to the RHCA.

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

So what is it like to actually GET these certifications? In the next part of our blog we share our accounts of achieving the RHCA! Check back soon and bookmark so you don’t miss it!


Icon_RH_Transportation_Space-Rocket_RGB_Flat (1)Ready to start your certification journey now!? 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 our authors:

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 12.23.14 pmChris Janiszewski is a 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!



Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 12.23.23 pmKen 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!