Exactly two and a half years ago I figured I needed to learn Kubernetes, because it had piqued my interest. To this end I have purchased some hardware and ended up getting this enclosure built:
I've spent quite some time - about a year, in fact - migrating my services to it, also improving my understanding and operational knowledge of containerization in the process. Considering the scale of my own operations I've never needed Kubernetes per se, but I believe in learning by doing and properly at that, even when starting small.
Eventually I had everything (like website, e-mail, calendar, address book, SCM and all the things people normally host - they do, don't they?) running on this tiny box with all its cute lights instead of the SmartOS-based NAS I've built (and still use for media storage and streaming). It was far from perfect, but it worked and I've made peace with the minor inconveniences that didn't itch enough to warrant scratching. About a quarter of a year later I've attended an official classroom course on Kubernetes which made me realize I've gotten some things wrong and I've re-architected my solution, then more or less knowing what I was doing.
Another quarter had passed and I no longer felt happy with the maintenance burden and overall rigidity of my solution. I also wanted to boot out most of what never belonged into a family home anyway. Having been an AWS customer for a while by that time already, I've decided to get rid of the physical cluster and move "to the cloud". I wanted to retain most of the liberty I've until then enjoyed, though, and being unwilling to pay extra for it anyway, I've ruled out a managed service. I've set my sights on endorsed IaaS automation solutions and quickly found and embraced kops. This came with the added benefit of also pulling the plug on a privately hosted image registry, turning to ECR instead. Migration had only cost me a few days during the winter holiday, leaving only a few minor wrinkles to be ironed out in the weeks that followed. (I've only really been upgrading via kops since then.) I even managed to find a new home for the PicoCluster gone dark - it's in service even as you read this.
I've since then started to actually make money with what I've learnt throughout the course of this journey by delivering courses myself and further honing my related skills on the job. I have recently taken the administrative exam and can now tell I've "been there, done that, got the t-shirt". Overall I can state it's all been an investment I'm generally pleased having made.
Fourteen months later I've leveled up by taking the security exam as well.