Why Kubernetes?

When containers first broke onto the scene, it was immediately apparent that it was a disruptive technology. What was not clear was how containers were going to be scaled and orchestrated effectively. In the early days, the container orchestration competition was intense, with applications such as Docker Swarm, Apache Mesos, and Kubernetes aiming to address this issue. However, in the last six years, Kubernetes has differentiated itself and pulled away as the clear container orchestration choice.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) backs this assertion in their yearly survey, with 92% of respondents using containers and 83% of respondents using Kubernetes in production. The widespread adoption can in part be credited to Cloud providers recognizing Kubernetes as the best choice. There are over 90 verified cloud platforms that offer Kubernetes as a service. And with all of this buy-in, it’s not surprising that 451 research predicted a container technology market worth 4.3 Billion by 2022.

Where Do I Fit In?

Containers, Kubernetes, and the Cloud have changed the typical IT management architecture drastically in the last decade. The DevOps Engineer job title has popped up to address the new automation and container technologies and ever-changing landscape. Don’t get flustered by the massive CNCF landscape; regardless of your IT journey, there is always a place for you in the Kubernetes ecosystem.

Developers can leverage containers for repeatable, consistent application environments. When developers understand and utilize Kubernetes, they allow operations to understand the application and its requirements better. This cross-functional capability is a massive value add to businesses and organizations.

Operations can use Kubernetes’ expertise and its ecosystem to create observable, dependable environments that developers can work in. To take full advantage of container technologies, operation teams need to take the friction out of the development process. To do that, operations teams need to understand the barriers developers face and what each application requires. This insight will kickstart operations with the context they need to automate, scale, and observe their systems.

Security teams have different requirements than the typical teams. The goal of containers is to increase development speed, and security teams need to enable that speed while keeping their environments secure. To achieve this, security teams need to understand the container ecosystem and leverage their existing security knowledge without interfering in the development process.

What Can I Do?

The CNCF and the Kubernetes ecosystem are incredibly welcoming, with many resources to help you get started or extend your knowledge. Along with the documentation, meetups, slack channel, website, the CNCF and Linux Foundations have partnered to create hands-on exams to educate and test your knowledge about Kubernetes. Currently, there are three certification exams available:

These certifications are a great way to level up your knowledge of Kubernetes and are frequently used by recruiters and organizations to vet potential employees. Each exam is different, and this blog will discuss what you should know to pass the exams and provide resources to help you on your certification journey.

Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

The CKAD is built for developers who will interact in a Kubernetes environment. Application concepts and architectures, runtimes, and the programming language basics are essential. Widely considered the easiest of the three exams, the CKAD focuses on:

  • Core Concepts
  • Configuration
  • Multi-Container Pods
  • Observability
  • Pod Design
  • Services & Networking
  • State Persistence

It is best to review the documentation and candidate handbook, so there is no confusion about what you are signing up for. With that in mind, here a few resources to help you get started:

Developers should start with this exam as it will be the most familiar; however, operations and security people may get more out of the CKA.

Certified Kubernetes Admin

The CKA is built for operations teams, sysadmins, and DevOps Engineers who will focus more on Kubernetes features and functionality over container runtimes. This exam is designed to test general knowledge and applicability of everything Kubernetes, including general workflow, storage, debugging, and more. The documentation highlights the following core competencies:

  • Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration
  • Workloads & Scheduling
  • Services & Networking
  • Storage
  • Troubleshooting

Like the CKAD, it is best to review the documentation and candidate handbook beforehand. Luckily, many excellent course reviews have been created over the years. Below, you’ll find these links and a few other resources to help you get started:

As stated previously, operation teams and their associates will get the most out of this exam. The CKA also serves as a requirement for the CKS exam, and it will be useful should you choose to pursue a more security-focused role.

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist

The final feather in the cap comes courtesy of the CKS. The CKS is also created for operations and sysadmins but focuses on security considerations and tooling. Security teams will get significant use out of the CKA requirement since it teaches security teams about the day-to-day challenges of operation teams. Overall, both operations and security teams will get a lot of use out of the CKS. The documentation highlights the following core competencies:

  • Cluster Setup
  • Cluster Hardening
  • System Hardening
  • Minimize Microservice Vulnerabilities
  • Supply Chain Security
  • Monitoring, Logging, and Runtime Security

The CKS is the newest exam and is slightly different from the CKA and CKAD. As always, read the documentation and candidate handbook before making any spending decisions. StackRox is a massive supporter of the CKS and its community benefits. We have put in significant time to bringing you resources that will help you get started:

The CKS is considered the most challenging exam, with a focus on Kubernetes and supporting security applications. It is also one of the most popular exams currently available as security talents become more widely valued.


The three Kubernetes certificates are one of the best hands-on exams for testing your Kubernetes knowledge. The industry widely recognizes the certificates as a reliable measure of competence. You can use them as a starting point to dip your toes in the Kubernetes ecosystem - or use it as a way to pad and validate your previous expertise. And with a free exam retake, it’s hard to go wrong.

We look forward to seeing your certificates posted on LinkedIn!


Kubernetes, Security, cloud scale, StackRox, CNCF, Certification

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