Big changes for Oracle’s DBA certification track in 12c
Since release 10g, the administration portion of Oracle’s DBA certification track has consisted of two exams for candidates who have no previous certification (Administration I and II), or a single upgrade exam for candidates that have earned their OCP for an earlier release. Oracle University has started rolling out the 12c versions of these exams.
At this time only the Admin I exam (1Z0-062) and the upgrade exam (1Z0-060) have been through their beta period. The production versions of these exams will be released in late 2013 or early 2014. However, the list of topics for all three exams has been available for some time. Oracle University has shuffled the information covered by each exam significantly. The result is a major departure from the earlier two releases.
1Z0-062: Oracle Database 12c: Installation and Administration
The name has changed slightly, but this is the equivalent of the Administration I exam of earlier releases. The test contains a total of 85 topics compared to 50 in 11g and 86 in 10g. The big drop in topics from release 10g to 11g was caused largely by three factors.
First, 10 of the removed topics were on Oracle SQL that duplicated material covered in the SQL Fundamentals exam. Second, a handful of topics were moved to the Administration II exam in 11g. Finally, a number of topics were consolidated. For example, the 10g exam has three topics on the Database Configuration Assistant while the 11g exam has only one.
The biggest increase in topics for the 1Z0-062 exam is due to the addition of material that is in the Administration II exam in the 11g DBA Track. The topics on performance, space management, resource management, and memory management were pulled directly from 1Z0-053 topics.
One aspect that I find puzzling is that the test designers at Oracle University decided to pull the topics on upgrading a database to 12c into the Administration I exam. These topics were part of the upgrade exam in the 11g track (1Z0-050) and it seems to me that they were a better fit there.
I do not think there is any doubt that the 1Z0-062 exam will be more difficult than 1Z0-052 is. Not only is there a greater amount of material to study, much of it is on topics that came from the exam that was designed for an OCP-level certification. Candidates should plan to spend extra time preparing for this exam.
1Z0-063: Oracle Database 12c: Advanced Administration
While the number of topics in the Admin I exam increased significantly, the number in Admin II has been decreased. The 10g version of the exam contains 64 topics, compared to 72 in 11g. This has dropped to 57 in 12c.
About 60 percent of the 11g Admin II exam is on information related to backup and recovery of the database. The remaining 40 percent is split between a variety of subjects. All of the topics that exist in the 11g exam that are not related to backup and recovery have been either moved to the Admin I exam in 12c or eliminated entirely. This purge was done to make room for 25 new topics on Oracle’s Multitenant Architecture. The resulting exam is still heavy on backup and recovery (56 percent by topic count).
While the count of backup and recovery topics has been reduced slightly on the 12c exam, they have been broadened in many cases. For example, the 11g exam has a topic “Create and configure a recovery catalog”. The closest topic on the 12c exam is “Create and use an RMAN Recovery Catalog”.
The 11g exam has two additional topics on the catalog that have been eliminated from 12c: “Identify situations that require RMAN recovery catalog” and “Synchronize the recovery catalog.” Both of those topics (along with configuration) could legitimately be considered part of using a recovery catalog. As a result, even though this exam has 15 fewer topics than the 11g incarnation, I think that the material covered is at least as broad.
1Z0-060: Upgrade to Oracle Database 12c
Due to the nature of “New Features” exams, they always have a completely different set of topics from one release to the next. However, the 12c version goes an extra step in making this exam different from previous incarnations. In addition to a set of topics about features that were added in Oracle 12c, the exam has a section on “Key DBA Skills.” The 1Z0-060 exam has 49 topics on new features, plus 34 on Key DBA skills, for a total of 83. By contrast, the 10g new features exam had 79 topics and the 11g exam had 58.
Another departure from previous upgrade exams is that 1Z0-060 allows Oracle Certified Professionals whose credentials are as old as release 7 to upgrade directly to 12c. Previously, upgrade exams generally allowed Oracle professionals to bump their credentials by one or two releases. It is not clear if this is a permanent policy change by Oracle University. It is possible that the 1Z0-060 model will be a one-time occurrence and the next upgrade exam will return to the legacy behavior.
The addition of the DBA skills section makes for a more thorough test. Previous exams have been largely a matter of memorizing the existence and basic functionality of whatever new capabilities were added to the current release of Oracle. They never actually tested whether or not candidates had the knowledge to be a DBA.
Candidates taking an upgrade test must have passed two Administration exams in the past, and presumably have been working as a DBA in the interim. However, that may not always be the case. Including a “Core DBA Skills” section in every upgrade exam might be overkill. However, having one every few releases seems reasonable.
When compared to earlier exams in the DBA track, these contain a broader set of topics than has been the case. I have always argued that the primary value of any IT certification is the amount of information that must be learned while preparing for it. By that standard, the 12c exams are more valuable to certification candidates than their predecessors.