The Start of the RHCA Journey

I’m starting my Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) journey!

It took me some time to get my mind set on this, and it was important to understand the reasons I’m willing to do this in the first place.

Why Red Hat?

I do Linux system administration for a living. Although the world is moving towards DevOps, containers and automation, this doesn’t change the fact that Linux remains the go-to choice for the cloud, and regardless of the job title, one still does a lot of sysadmin work day in, day out.

I’ve been running Linux in production for the past 7 years, with the last 4 years being Red Hat based OS exclusively. Over time, I transitioned from running servers on Debian to Ubuntu and then to Red Hat/CentOS. As much as I like Debian, Red Hat has become my distribution of choice. As a result it just seemed natural to learn it in depth.


I’m a self-taught RHCE. I’ve passed the exam a couple of years ago. To attain and maintain RHCA status, an RHCE must pass at least 5 architect level exams.

If you’re reading this, then you’re likely aware that Red Hat exams are hands-on. As a result, they have something of value. You get presented with complex problems, and more often than not you need to know where to find information on a RHEL system to be able to solve them.

This testing methodology is advantageous because it does not require you to simply memorise things, but to know where to find answers. Of course, you need to memorise bits and pieces, but it’s muscle memory that’s the key to success.

Having said that, there are three things required to achieve RHCA: practice, practice, practice. You need to perform the tasks over and over to be an expert in using a product, be it Red Hat High Availability clustering, Satellite or OpenStack.

Why am I doing this? Motivation and Expectations

I’m a person who’s eager to learn new things. This includes looking for challenges that would help me grow both personally, and professionally.

As I said some time ago, RHCA is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s also a massive undertaking and should not be taken lightly. This alone makes me want to pursue it. To become better at what I do.

To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Never, ever think small. If you're going to accomplish anything, you have to think big. No matter what you do, work, work, work!"

I’m doing this for myself. It’s a pet project that I feel is worth investing time and resources. I’m not doing RHCA to get a new job. There are easier and less time consuming ways of achieving this.

I expect this journey to be a lengthy process with lots of challenges that I’ll need to overcome, including exams, travel and life itself.

Chances are that things won’t always go my way even if I’m well prepared, therefore it’s important to be honest with myself and understand why I’m doing this.


I don’t have a strict deadline, but my aim is to pass the exams by the end of the year. I started planning my RHCA studies back in 2018 so that I would have plenty of time in 2019.

The First Exam: EX436 High Availability Clustering

I support Pacemaker high availability clusters, therefore the decision to take the EX436 was somewhat easy to make.

EX436 will be my first exam, and I’m already approaching the end of the study process. I use official documentation available on Red Hat’s website and my homelab.

My homelab for HA clustering is simple: a laptop with a quad-core CPU, 16GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, running KVM hypervisor and four RHEL 7.1 virtual machines. One VM is used to provide storage services, and the other three VMs are for clustering. In terms of networking, I use five network interfaces (2x corosync redundand rings, 2x iSCSI multipath, 1x for LAN). Corosync and iSCSI networks are non-routable.

17 thoughts on “The Start of the RHCA Journey

  1. Hello,

    It is nice to hear that you are aiming for RHCA. I will attend RHCE in april, but I am a little bit concerned about RHEL 8. I know that is still in beta, but from what I have understood, it is expected for Red Hat to release RHEL 8 final in the second part of the year(RHEL 6 was about 7 months between the first beta and final release, and RHEL 7 was about 6 months).
    I guess after the the final release, some Red Hat exams will use RHEL 8.
    Best of luck in achieving your goal :)

    • Hi, thanks very much!

      With regards to RHEL 8, I don’t think there is much to worry about.

      RHEL 7 was released in June 2014. RHEL 6 training and RHCSA/RHCE exams were available for purchase through February 2015. In other words, Red Hat gave candidates 8 months to purchase exams for RHEL 6 after RHEL 7 was released. On top of that, candidates were allowed 1 year from the purchase date to take the exam on RHEL 6.

      With all this in mind, I think it’s safe to say that you’ll be able to take the exam on RHEL 7 until at least the end of the year. If you want to play safe, simply purchase the exam on RHEL 7 now, by doing so you will be certain that the exam will be on RHEL 7.

  2. Hey Tomas, it’s amazing that you’re starting your RHCA journey. There is a long road ahead, but it’s worth it. Remember the Gentoo days? Two days to compile the system, was totally worth it in the end.

    BTW, I saw your post on Red Hat learning community, and I get the feeling. It’s difficult to pick RHCA exams when you’re interested in several different things. My advice is to trust your gut. Whatever you decide, it will be fun, and you will learn a ton. Good luck!

    • Yea, old good Gentoo, haha. Thanks Sado, will do. I’ve got two exams that I’m studing for at the moment (finished preparing for one and started another one, while I wait to take the former), will see how it goes. Thanks again!

  3. Hi Tomas,

    Does getting one cert of these of RHCA will renew your RHCE?

    My RHCE is expiring next april and i think to take the RHCA ansible automation and maybe openshift , do you think this will extend the validity of RHCE? , Thanks

  4. Hi, Tomas,
    Is it too late to start preparing to RHCA by using RHEL 7 in spite of appearing RHEL 8. I got RHCSA and RHCE v.7 in this year.

  5. Hi Tomas,
    Thank’s for your post’s some exams what i prepared i did a cross check for your notes and sometimes your notes give some extra knowledge to pass some questions in the exam. i missed this in the books so thanks.

    your blog was a real inspiration to pass some exams and i passed new exams what you did not follow.
    but in the end your way of approach of study inspired me and i copied the way of thinking that worked for me so far.

    the rhls subscriptions is ended now and i achieved the Red Hat Certified Architect Certificate.

    about a year i’ll wil renew the rhls to hold on my rhca. I preferred now openshift en for the next year i go for the kubernetes certification.

    in corona time it was difficult to take exams. because everything was closed. 3 months i could not take an exam.
    but not least i passed all the exams in 10 months included the corona shut down.

    you can follow me up whit this link;
    i think with your inspiration i passed my rhca 2 weeks ago.

    the last exam what i take was at home. that was a verry good experience because a 3 hour exam i took it in 2 hours.
    in 5 minutes “realy” i had the results.

    kind regards,

    Patrick Harder.

    • Hi, thanks for your message! I’m doing more or less the same thing as I was before to be honest with you which, is Linux/DevOps/Cloud/AWS, but with much more focus on Kubernetes these days. I work as a Cloud Architect that allows me to design, develop, build and test infrastructure solutions based on Red Hat products.

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