Prometheus is one of the highest velocity CNCF projects, with broad adoption across the IT industry globally, so it’s no wonder that the Prometheus Certified Associate (PCA) has become one of our most popular certifications. 

This pre-professional certification is designed for candidates to get to grips with the fundamentals of data monitoring, metrics, alerts, and dashboards using Prometheus. So why should you consider joining the ranks of those already certified? We spoke to Prometheus Co-Founder and PCA Co-creator Julius Volz, and recently-certified CNCF Ambassadors Alessandro Vozza and Aditya Soni, to break down why the PCA is fast becoming a highly-desirable asset for anyone in tech. 

What is Prometheus?

Prometheus is an open source metrics-based monitoring and alerting stack. It provides libraries and server components for building an entire monitoring pipeline: tracking and exposing metrics, collecting and storing them, and then querying the metrics with a powerful query language, PromQL, for alerting, dashboarding, ad-hoc debugging, and more. 

Today, Prometheus has become the de-facto standard for open source metrics-based monitoring and alerting, and you will find broad Prometheus adoption across the entire IT industry. 

In fact, Prometheus usage is especially strong within the cloud native space, and most Kubernetes users will come into contact with it. For example, all Kubernetes cluster components, from the Kubernetes API Server to the Kubelet, natively expose metrics in a Prometheus-compatible format. Prometheus also has excellent support for dynamically discovering services, endpoints, and other cluster objects on Kubernetes clusters. 

How did Prometheus come about?

Google alumni Julius Volz and Matt Proud founded Prometheus in 2012. Both were working at SoundCloud, and missed Google’s internal monitoring tool Borgmon, which they had used to monitor the systems and services they were responsible for.

“We started building what would later become Prometheus, first in our free time, and then increasingly during work time. After several years of building and adopting Prometheus at SoundCloud with a growing number of people, we officially announced Prometheus to the wider world in 2015. Shortly after, we joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in 2016, as the second hosted project after Kubernetes,” Volz said.

“Shortly after the announcement, Prometheus occupied the #1 spot on the front page of Hacker News for an entire day. Contrary to our expectations, users and engineers around the world all really understood the need for a monitoring tool like Prometheus, especially in combination with the recently launched Kubernetes project. People welcomed Prometheus with excitement and from that point on, we started seeing explosive growth in usage, code contributions, and other forms of community engagement.”

Since 2016, Volz has been helping users around the world use and extend Prometheus in various ways, first as a freelancer and, since 2020, through his company PromLabs. PromLabs began as a commercial software organization around Prometheus (like creating the query builder PromLens), but these days Volz focusses on user education and teaching Prometheus concepts, and creating free content like blog posts or YouTube videos, all explaining how Prometheus works and how to use it in the best possible way.

What’s the PCA exam like?

We sat down with CNCF Ambassadors Alessandro Vozza and Aditya Soni, who were recently certified, to get the inside scoop on the Prometheus Certified Associate certification and why it’s been valuable to them.

Q: What are the top three things you learned by studying for, and taking this exam?

Aditya: An understanding of Prometheus from scratch to advanced level, installing, managing and integrating Prometheus with other Cloud Native tools, and implementing different use cases for monitoring & fetching logs with the help of PQL. 

Alessandro: It re-enforced my knowledge of SRE concepts like error budget, and deepened my knowledge of PromQL language. Moreover, it made me understand what a well-architected Prometheus deployment look like

Q: The Prometheus Certified Associate validates some of the knowledge associated with this course. Can you tell us more and how you think being certified on Prometheus is a great asset for your career today?

Aditya: A DevOps/SRE professional monitoring the system is a crucial part to take care of and being certified on the same with credentials really makes it worth it in day-to-day life & organization projects.

Alessandro: I learned Prometheus “on the front line”, by trial and error and long time spent fine tuning queries; I wish I had this course and certification sooner to cut to the chase and focus on what matters when it comes to Prometheus and observability topics, with real-world examples and learnings. So glad I could now demonstrate my knowledge and not just theorize about it

Q: Why do you think the cloud native ecosystem needs this course now?

Aditya: It’s indeed a great course for observability and monitoring of systems as Prometheus is a wider-use tool for the same. It has integrations with other ecosystem tools also that make it more efficient to have in the Cloud Native Ecosystem. 

Alessandro: Observability is crucial to many branches of cloud native knowledge like FinOps, GreenOps and DevSecOps (as demonstrated by OpenTelemetry being the second largest project in CNCF); this is the time to double down on learning the top open source observability suite and get confident with PromQL and SRE concepts.

Get started on the PCA Certification

The PCA is a pre-professional certification designed for an engineer or application developer with special interests in observability and monitoring. Ideal candidates may have achieved Kubernetes certifications such as KCNA, CKA, or CKAD or have completed Prometheus-specific training or Cloud Engineer bootcamps.

It demonstrates a candidate’s understanding of best practices for monitoring cloud native applications and infrastructure using Prometheus. A PCA digital credential ensures the candidate understands how to use observability data to improve application performance, troubleshoot system implementations, and feed that data into other systems.

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