OpenStack has become the de-facto private cloud solution in today’s market. The demand for professionals and people with expertise is rising daily, as evidenced on the job boards or social media. But for your average IT infrastructure engineer, OpenStack is not simple. The amount of moving parts that are involved in maintaining and operating an OpenStack cloud infrastructure, is at minimum hard, and sometimes mind boggling.
Currently, three OpenStack Certifications tracks are available. Why so many? Probably due to the way that OpenStack has evolved over the years. In the past a relatively small number of people knew how OpenStack worked, how it was deployed and how it was operated. These people were most probably the ones who actually contributed code to the project. As the project grew, more people became involved and obviously wanted to learn more.
Preparing for OpenStack Certification
To become acquainted with OpenStack you can begin by trying it out, taking online courses and joining the communities.
Play with OpenStack
One option to get acquainted with OpenStack is to use DevStack which is a script that will install a fully functional OpenStack environment on your laptop, desktop or even in a virtual machine. DevStack is targeted at developers and CI systems to use the raw upstream code. It may make many choices that are not appropriate for production systems.
Another option that offers a plug and play installation and deployment of OpenStack is Stratoscale Symphony. Stratoscale eases OpenStack deployments with a software-defined solution that offers quick initial deployment and inherent robustness.
OpenStack Community Mailing Lists
OpenStack is a globally distributed community and like any open-source project, a good deal of the communication between the developers, users, operators and anyone interested in OpenStack happens on the mailing lists. Be warned, sometimes the volumes of email that come into your inbox can be overwhelming
Yes that old chat medium, text based, without pictures and emojis and all the new fangled extras we have today. The OpenStack community uses IRC heavily, for everything and each and every project. It is part of their DNA. So if you have a question that you can’t solve or find an answer for on the internet, hop onto IRC and join #openstack and someone will surely help you out.
OpenStack Community Online Courses
You can find information on vendors that provide official training in the OpenStack Marketplace, be it at a general or beginner level or more advanced and specific topics to advance your knowledge. The OpenStack Foundation have done a great job of collecting all of this in one location, making it easier to find and consume. Check OpenStack Training Courses.
Once you’ve decided that OpenStack is a good fit for your organization, choose how to deploy OpenStack by looking at the tools, packages, preparing a plan and ensuring that your IT staff is well equipped to manage the process.
Take an Exam and Get Certified
1 – OpenStack.org
Certified OpenStack Administrator – COA
The OpenStack Foundation recognized a gap and also an opportunity, and decided to provide the Certified OpenStack Administrator – COA. The program was launched at the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo in 2015 and was developed through the collaboration of a number of organizations that participate and contribute to OpenStack.
This will be a hands-on exam and the requirements for this test include:
- Knowledge of OpenStack components and architecture
- Configuration and management of Nova, Swift, Cinder, Neutron, Glance, Heat, Ceilometer and Keystone
This exam will be vendor agnostic and will test the baseline skills of an OpenStack Administrator, someone who has at least six months of OpenStack experience and who provides day-to-day operation and management of an OpenStack cloud.
The Exam will be updated according to the release versions of OpenStack, perhaps not on a 6-month cadence, but the exam will not stay static. The exam should be available in the upcoming OpenStack Summit in Austin, 2016.
The price for the exam is not yet known, neither are the testing locations nor duration of the exam.
2 – Mirantis
Mirantis offers several certifications.
MCA100 OpenStack Certification Exam
This is the basic, entry level certification. It is a multiple choice exam, which is taken online and has a minimum pass score of 70%. The exam outline is described as follows:
- Understand how things work in an OpenStack Environment
- Understand OpenStack Architecture
- Know how to troubleshoot common OpenStack failures
- Knowledge of the core projects, their capabilities and usage
- Knowledge and ability to work with platform components such a message queue, database etc.
There are no restrictions on eligibility to take this exam. The exam can be taken all over the world and real-world experience is the best preparation for this exam. The exam costs $400.
MCA200 OpenStack Certification Exam
This is a performance based Hands-on exam, with 30 scenarios or questions and tests knowledge on the following:
- Manage and Operate OpenStack Environment using command line utilities and the Horizon GUI
- Create, manage and configure OpenStack identities (projects, users, quotas, etc.)
- Create, manage and configure OpenStack Networking, Instances, Volumes and Security
This exam assumes that you are well acquainted with OpenStack and have hands-on experience working with Linux and OpenStack. The exams are held after the completion of Mirantis courses delivered over the globe as per the published schedule and the exam costs $600.
3 – Red Hat
Red Hat is associated with Linux, and of course they also came out with their own certification track in 2011. They also have two levels of certification available.
EX210 – Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) in Red Hat OpenStack exam
A few courses are available to help prepare for this exam, and it is part of their recommended Red Hat OpenStack Administration (CL210) course.
It is also usually available at OpenStack Summits and assumes that you are able to do the following:
- Install and configure Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform
- Manage users, projects, flavors, roles and quotas
- Configure and manage images
- Manage compute nodes, Swift, networking and Cinder
The exam is a hands-on exam which takes three hours and can be taken at a number of locations around the world. The cost for the exam is $400.
EX310 – Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) in Red Hat OpenStack Exam
This is a more advanced exam than the EX210, and is a hands-on test for three hours which will test you on the following:
- Perform common administrative tasks on an existing Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform installation
- Install and configure Red Hat Ceph Storage in a multi-node environment:
- Configure and utilize the Ceph Calamari
- Integrate Ceph block devices with OpenStack services such as Glance, Cinder, and Nova
- Create and work with virtual network devices
- Provision tenant networks with DHCP agents
- Manage network ports and VLANs
- Create instances and attach them to specific VLANs
- Create and manage floating IP addresses
- Configure Load Balancing-as-a-Service (LBaaS)
- Troubleshoot virtual network devices
Red Hat recommends that candidates take the Red Hat OpenStack Administration III (CL310) to prepare for the exam.
Candidates must hold a current RHCSA in Red Hat OpenStack certification at the time the exam is taken and have real world experience in managing, installing, and operating a real-world environment. The cost for the exam is $600 and can be taken around the globe.
No surprise that the exam can be vendor specific. In the Red Hat exams you will be tested on Red Hat specific technology, Red Hat deployment tools and Redhat specific storage. The Mirantis exam includes topics that are Fuel specific.
For a streamlined installation and configuration of OpenStack environments, Stratoscale Symphony offers a hardware-agnostic software stack that is 100% compatible with OpenStack. Stratoscale distributes all physical and virtual assets and workloads in real time, delivering rack-scale economics to data centers of all sizes with unparalleled efficiency.
To summarize, OpenStack professionals are in high demand today. There are a number of options available to you get you on your way and deepen your knowledge. Dive right in and take the plunge!
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