Eye on Certification: Database

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It seems kind of tautological to say that more information exists today than ever before. The thing is, barring some unforeseen catastrophe that ushers in an epoch of human civilization bearing a resemblance to the Mad Max movies, that assertion always will be true. One hundred years from now, some CertMag columnist could rewrite the statement, “More information exists today than ever before,” and it will be just as accurate as it is today. As data accumulates with the passage of time like some snowball rolling down the side of a mountain, the call for database administrators (DBAs)—those professionals who organize information in a meaningful way so it can be easily maintained, retrieved and updated—will likewise grow. And as the demand for DBAs rises, so too will the need for certifications that verify skills in this discipline.

Here’s an overview of some of the top database credentialing programs out there today.

Oracle, the database market leader, offers a suite of certifications that progress in levels from associate to professional to master. DBAs should identify early on whether they’ll pursue the certifications for Oracle Database 10g, a relational database designed for grid computing, or Oracle9i Database. The first level of certification includes the Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate and Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Associate credentials. The former requires passing one exam, #1Z0-042 Oracle Database 10g: Administration I. The latter involves two tests: Candidates can choose between #1Z0-007 Introduction to Oracle9i: SQL, which is online, and #1Z0-001 Introduction to Oracle: SQL and PL/SQL, which is proctored, but the third exam, #1Z0-031 Oracle9i Database: Fundamentals I, is mandatory for all participants. Both associate-level certifications are required to proceed to the professional stage of credentials.

The Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional designation indicates its bearers know how to configure an Oracle database for multilingual applications, use various methods in recovering and tuning the database, and employ technologies like Resource Manager, Scheduler and Automatic Storage Management (ASM). This certification requires successful completion of #1Z0-043 Oracle Database 10g: Administration I, as well as an Oracle University-administered hands-on course component for all new Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) candidates. (It isn’t required for those who are upgrading their existing DBA OCP credential from a previous version.) Oracle University is expected to offer details on special accreditations within this certification later this year.

Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professionals, who manage database functions for various projects, have skills that include network administration, backup and recovery, and tuning a database. Like the Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional, the Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professional has a hands-on course requirement for all new OCP candidates directed by Oracle University. Participants also must pass #1Z0-032 Oracle9i Database: Fundamentals II and #1Z0-033 Oracle9i Database: Performance Tuning tests. Also, the Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professional contains a one-exam special accreditation, Managing Oracle9i on Linux, which allows Oracle 9i DBAs to demonstrate their knowledge of installation, administration and configuration of the Oracle9i database on the Linux OS.

At the top of the company’s database certifications is the Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Master. This credential verifies comprehensive and extensive comprehension of a wide variety of topics such as installation, troubleshooting, backup and recovery, and tuning. The prerequisites include earning the Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional and completing advanced-level coursework. The final stage involves an intensive two-day, hands-on practical examination. More details regarding the 10g OCM Practicum, OCM pre-requisites and Oracle9i DBA OCM upgrade requirements will be available sometime this year.

Like the Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Master, the Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Master credential is for the most knowledgeable and experienced Oracle DBAs. The requirements and subject matter are similar: Candidates must earn Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professional, complete sophisticated coursework and pass the two-day practical examination, the Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Master Exam.

For more information, see http://www.oracle.com/education/certification.

The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) credential, designed for professionals in the database administrator, developer and analyst roles, shows that candidates have the skills necessary to lead organizations in the successful design, implementation and administration of Microsoft SQL Server databases. The certification is appropriate for individuals who build physical database designs, develop logical data models, create physical databases, create data services by using Transact-SQL, manage and maintain databases, configure and manage security, monitor and optimize databases, and install and configure SQL Server.

MCDBA candidates are required to pass one SQL Server administration exam and one SQL Server design exam. In addition, MCDBA candidates have the option to pass either one Windows 2000 Server or one Windows Server 2003 exam to fulfill the networking systems core requirement. In addition to the core exam requirements, participants also must pass one elective exam that provides proof of expertise with a specific Microsoft server product.

Microsoft recently announced that it was restructuring its certification program around job roles and technical areas. As a result, the certifications for its SQL Server 2005 will have two credentialing classifications. Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: SQL Server 2005, the Technology Specialist-level certification, will branch out into Enterprise Data Management, Developer Productivity and Business Intelligence certifications within Microsoft Certified Professional Developer credential group in the SQL Server 2005 program. The company will continue to offer the regular MCDBA through the end of the year.

For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/learning.

Big Blue offers a number of certifications around DB2, Informix and some of its other database products. IBM’s database certification program begins with the Certified Database Associate certification, which is designed for entry-level DBAs, as well as users of the DB2 product line. Holders of these certifications will have a basic grasp of administration, SQL, installation, creation of databases and database objects, and security and transaction isolation, as all of these pertain to DB2 Universal Database 8.1.

At the intermediate level, IBM offers the Certified Database Administrator, which essentially explores many of the same issues found in the Certified Database Associate credentials, but in a more in-depth fashion. This certification provides certificants with knowledge that allows them to implement and maintain DB2 in several different environments, which includes tasks like data access and information integration.

IBM Certified Advanced Database Administrator, the company’s certification for expert DBAs, is designed to help these professionals apply DB2 products on Linux, UNIX (AIX, HP-UX and Sun Solaris), Windows or any combination of these. Other complex tasks required of upper-level DBAs covered in this credential include database performance, high availability and networking.

For more information, see http://www.ibm.com/certify.

Sybase has certified tens of thousands of IT professionals on its data

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