Tackling any exam is not easy, but Red Hat exams which are performance-based, have their own special difficulties. Most people who take Red Hat exams are using the Red Hat Subscriptions, which can cost anywhere from $5500-$7500. Some companies will pay for their employees’ subscriptions and some come out of pocket. I decided that the route I wanted to take was to come out of pocket but to find less costly ways to prepare for and take and obtain the certifications. I am currently preparing for the Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation, and am using Linux Academy predominantly to prepare for the exam.
Linux Academy recently added a refresh of the course I completed so I decided to complete the refresh as well. The course is about 21 hours long and the instructor is Stosh. This course, of course, is geared toward the Red Hat EX407 Red Hat Specialist in Ansible Automation. The course goes through setting up Ansible on a control machine and configuring ssh so that the control machine can access the remote nodes. The course has taken me through understanding the core components of Ansible such as ad hoc commands, static and dynamic inventories, modules, variables, facts, plays and playbooks, and configuration files.
When I began learning Ansible and taking the Linux Academy course, the most challenging piece for me was getting ‘ssh’ set up properly so that the control machine and remote nodes can talk to one another. Also, understanding the syntax and how plays and a playbook is constructed. And with there being well over 500 modules, understanding how and what modules to use such as when to use the copy or service modules and others.
The other areas that I had to learn include:
*Basic playbook and syntax demonstration
*Use Variables to Retrieve the Results of Running Commands
*Using Conditionals to Control Play Execution
*Error Handling-Ignore Errors
*Error Handling-Block Groups
*Selectively Run Specific Tasks in Playbooks Using Tags
*Using Ansible Templates
*Ansible Variables – Magic Variables and Filters
*Working with Ansible Roles (Ansible Galaxy)
*Creating and Applying a Role in Ansible
*Applying In-Line Roles and Role Dependencies
*Parallelism in Ansible
*Using Vaults in Playbooks
The most challenging areas for me have been Ansible Roles and Templates. In my training, I have learned that the role is the primary mechanism for breaking a playbook into multiple files. It allows for the simplification of writing complex playbooks and it makes them basically easier to reuse. Below is an example of the basic structure of a role.
An Ansible role has a name, such as database. Files associated with the database role go in the roles/database directory, which contains the following files and directories:
-roles/databases/tasks/main.yml – Tasks
-roles/databases/files/ – Holds files to be uploaded to hosts
-roles/databases/templates/ – Holds Jinja2 template files
-roles/database/bars/main.yml – Variables that shouldn’t be overridden
I got more comfortable with the concept by taking quizzes and practicing creating playbooks with roles.
Template in Ansible is a file that can be dynamically filled in using variables. Common use cases are configuration file management. You can take a skeletal configuration file and put variables in key areas that you are likely to change depending on the host they are deployed to. Templates are typically used by providing a template file on the ansible control machine and then using the template module within the playbook to deploy the file to a target server or group. Templates are processed using the Jinja2 template language. These concepts will be on the actual ansible exam, so I have made sure to go over this concept more than once to make sure I have a grasp of it.
Completing the four hour Linux Academy practice exam made me realize the areas that I struggled with. The grading function of the practice exam is not yet available, but it was not hard to figure out what areas I needed to go back and review because the struggle was real.
Make sure you complete the four practice exams as many times as it takes until you can smoothly get through it without much of a challenge. Don’t assume what will or will not be on the exam – the objectives are there for a reason. Once you complete the Linux Academy course, complete the practice exam several times. The grading function will hopefully be available soon, so it will be that much easier to know what you need to go back and review.