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Chef Certification 2.0 - Certified Chef Developer

A little while ago I posted about my experience so far with the Chef Certification process, covering what I had done as part of the Cert journey and looking at what it takes to pass each of the badges. At the time I had not yet completed the process to gain the Certified Chef Developer certification but things have changed since then.

Certifed Chef Developer

So, yesterday I found out I had passed my most recent exam which meant that I had earned the title of Certified Chef Developer. It feels great to have finally completed the journey as it was a little bumpy throughout (as discussed in my previous post)

Following on from my last post, I have since sat 2 more exams, Extending Chef and the newly released Deploying Cookbooks. Unfortunately, I failed the extending Chef exam however between then and now, Chef has released Deploying Chef. This is an additional badge which provides an alternative path towards being certified.

I'll cover each of the badges in a bit more detail:

Extending Chef

Extending Chef badge
  • Tricky
  • In-depth look at libraries, Handlers, Ohai and Custom Resources
  • 2 parts, 1 theory 1 practical.

Overall I found the Extending Chef exam pretty difficult as it was a deeper look at an area of Chef I was less familiar with. I was less surprised when I found out I had failed the first part due to this fact. The exam had a lot of focus (as per the scope) on Libraries, Custom Resources, Ohai plugins and Handlers and questions generally provide you with options that mostly sounded correct but it is that extra bit of experience that I was lacking that helps to whittle it down to the expected and actual right answer.

I think this exam and my result for it are a good example of where the Chef Certification is aimed at people who actually know and use Chef often, rather than simply studying to pass. I'm sure people can and will study just to pass but I like the fact that this isn't aimed at everyone.

Deploying Cookbooks

Deploying Cookbooks badge
  • Focus on cookbook deployment
  • Dependency management
  • Environments, roles and data bags
  • Node attribute searching
  • 1 exam, made up of multiple choice theory questions with practical tasks to answer said questions.

I found out about this newly released exam a little while ago, after Chef reached out to me to offer me early beta access to the exam. Stated as an alternative path to the Certified Chef Developer certification, Deploying Cookbooks focuses much more on elements such as Cookbook dependencies, Using Environments, PolicyFile vs Roles etc. This was my favourite exam so far as it had a great mix of practical and theory in a single exam. Throughout, you have access to docs.chef.io which I used to verify some of my answers. You also have access to a VM throughout that has a chef dev environment setup - meaning you can run knife commands to get answers and verify your thought path.

I feel this exam was much more realistic. In reality, I would have access to all these tools (and our friend Google) to troubleshoot issues or validate solutions - You still need to know and have knowledge in the topics to know what to look for if you are validating an answer so I would certainly say don't rely on this resource throughout.

Where to next

Now that I am certified, the pressure has been lifted for now. I would like to have another crack at the Extending Chef exam as it would be good to have all 4 badges. Soon, Chef will be releasing at least 1 more Certification path which will be made up additional badges, plus the ones they already have - So having all 4 under my belt will surely speed that process up.

My main takeaway and advice for the Chef certifications are to be confident in almost all areas in the Badge Scopes. I found more often than not that the exam scope was extensive and accurate in comparison to the exam content. If you are planning to go down this route yourself and you are not sure about any of the major topics mentioned, definitely give yourself enough time to practice and perfect your cooking skills.

Some cool ways to do this is to be as practical as possible. Set up your own Chef org at manage.chef.io and go about creating a well-made cookbook that implements multiple dependencies, tests, Libraries/Custom Resources etc. Then practice managing and deploying these changes to multiple nodes - preferably differing OS platform and families to give you that extra bit of insight.

Good luck and let me know what you all think about the process. Have you already completed? How did your experience compare to mine? It'd be great to see.

 Neil

Neil Stewart

Neil Stewart

Cloud Systems Developer at Cloudreach. Passion for DevOps and Cloud Infrastructure development. AWS Certified in 5 areas and working towards Chef certification. Apple lover and general tech enthusiast

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