I passed the EX294 this week and obtained my RHCE certification. I have some feedback that I hope others will find useful, and constructive criticism that I hope can be used to help improve the certification.
The consensus among my peers with whom I have discussed the decision to focus the exam on Ansible, is that it is wrong, and it has caused irreparable damage to the reputation of Red Hat Certifications and devalued the credential as a whole. The former EX300 exam was a logical progression in the role-based certification track from the EX200 required for the RHCSA, focusing on more advanced skills required for the core product. The requirement of the EX294 to use a secondary (specialization) product completely deviated from the RHCE track being a role-based certification.
From what I can tell, the EX294 is based largely on the former EX407 exam, which was a specialist certification. As far as I can tell, the former EX300 has been rebranded as the EX358 and is now a specialist exam. All Red Hat Linux Engineers will be required to use RHEL, but not all Red Hat Linux Engineer roles will require using Ansible (there are a lot of other automation platforms organizations might choose to implement instead of Ansible).
This might sound like I just don't like Ansible, which isn't the case. It's a great product, especially when used with Satellite or Tower (or AWX). Agentless configuration management was a game-changer most platforms still don't offer. It does not change the fact that it is still a specialization that doesn't belong on a role-based certification track.
I did read the blog post explaining the reasoning:
I disagree with the reasoning for the focus on Ansible. It comes off more like a sales pitch.
You can verify I did pass the exam and this isn't just me being sore about failing: https://rhtapps.redhat.com/verify/?certId=130-182-322
Hopefully, this can be viewed as constructive criticism that can be used to improve the credential (I did my best not to make it a rant, but it is hard to see something once held in high regard, become a point of shame more than pride).