Oracle Certification: Doing More With Less

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Cost-cutting is a serious matter for IT departments in today’s economy. In 2003 and beyond, budget constraints and limited resources will be a constant issue as IT professionals make decisions on where to focus their energies and how to prioritize their work. Think of your own job role. Have you been asked to do more than when times were flush? Are you covering multiple job roles or additional focus areas as compared to your role in 1999 or 2000? If yes, you need to be careful with how you allocate your limited time to be able to balance it all. But you also need to think about adding additional skills to maintain your value to the organization.

CIOs and IT directors must prioritize their limited resources. The focus for executives is managing their overall IT budget, their goals for the year and how those goals can be achieved through effective head-count management. Decision-makers look at solving their limited-resource issues in many ways. However, their primary concern is ensuring that their teams are comprised of the right technologists. With fewer people on the IT team, it is critical that team members have skills in multiple areas and work efficiently together.

So how do you make yourself an indispensable team member? Consider the challenges your organization faces as you approach the management of your skills portfolio. Your ability to pick up on new technologies as the market changes is critical. Stay current with what you do now, but also look to expand yourself. For example, many companies are moving to a more comprehensive database solution that addresses mission-critical issues such as data privacy, identity management, scalability and high availability. Thus, if you are already a DBA, you may want to consider adding Oracle DBA skills to your toolbox. This will be especially valuable for companies migrating from Informix or Microsoft SQL Server to Oracle. Companies moving to Oracle need staff members who can understand both, and that’s a rare breed!

Microsoft systems professionals (such as MCSEs) can always gain more career security by adding Oracle as an additional skill set in order to support an Oracle database on the Windows platform. The same is true for UNIX and Linux, as well as Solaris administrators.

Oracle certifications provide a set of credentials that endorse your skills as a database administrator, Internet or enterprise application developer or Web server administrator. Each credential maps to distinct learning paths that are based on delivering the exact skill sets required for each particular job role. Credentials are also tiered as they relate to recognizing the level of knowledge, skill or proven experience an IT professional has.

Three Tiers of Oracle Credentials
Oracle’s Certified Associate credential (OCA) recognizes foundation-level skills for Oracle9i developers, DBAs and Web administrators. It is a credential that does not require a huge investment to earn. The Certified Professional credential (OCP) continues to be recognized worldwide as the measuring stick for making accurate hiring decisions in support of Oracle technologies. OCP is currently available to both DBAs as well as developers. At the top of the range of certification credentials offered is the Oracle9i Database Certified Master (OCM). This program is reserved for the top-level experts who act either as senior-level DBAs or as contract consultants and offers a credential that endorses proven abilities based on a combination of highly technical hands-on training from Oracle University and a revolutionary performance-based practicum exam. The practicum requires candidates to visit an Oracle location and actually perform the specific job tasks of a senior-level DBA in a live application and system environment.

Now let’s take a closer look at each of the job-role focus areas that Oracle’s certification credentials are built to support.

Web Administration
Demand for the Oracle9i Application Server (9iAS) is growing. Analyst firm IDC calls the product “what enterprises need to build a robust, scalable e-business infrastructure.” 9iAS provides the middle tier for Oracle’s three-tier architecture solution, allowing for a thin-client model that can cut costs significantly for any organization. The savings come from lower requirements for each user’s client system in regard to system power and software applications licensing. The Web browser becomes all the user really needs to access the entire organization’s list of business applications.

With the growing popularity of Oracle’s middle tier, it makes sense to consider certifying on the technology. The Oracle9iAS Web Administrator Certified Associate (OCA) requires one comprehensive exam, which tests candidates on topics such as configuring 9iAS components like the Oracle HTTP Server, Oracle9iAS Web Cache and Oracle9iAS Containers for J2EE. Candidates should also know how to deploy PL/SQL applications as well as J2EE applications such as Servlets, JSPs, Web applications and Web services. Lastly, Oracle9iAS Single Sign-On (SSO) and Oracle Internet Directory (OID) are introduced as part of the security concepts of Oracle9iAS as well as an understanding of LDAP and the Oracle Internet Environment.

Oracle9i Database
Oracle9i databases offer increased scalability and availability, higher security and greater reliability, especially when backed with certified Oracle9i DBAs. Computer Reseller News (CRN.com) recently surveyed both large- and small-scale organizations in regard to which certification credentials have the highest value. The only database credential to make the “Top 10 Most Valuable Certifications” listings was the Oracle DBA OCP. Certification Magazine’s own contributing editor, Ed Tittel, recently found that “given the key importance of data as an organizational asset, it should come as no surprise that DBAs remain in high demand.” Tittel goes on to acknowledge, “By the numbers, Oracle leads the DBMS/DBA certification area.” Hence the continued need for more DBAs in the marketplace, a welcome difference from what is being seen for other job roles and focus areas—contraction.

Oracle’s 9i Database Administrator certification is divided into three tiers: Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Associate (OCA), Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professional (OCP) and Oracle Database Certified Master (OCM). Note that although certification at the OCP level is still available for supporting the earlier Oracle8i database, OCA and OCM credentials are only available on Oracle9i.

Oracle9i Developer
Oracle9i Forms Developer’s integrated set of “builders” allows business developers to easily and quickly construct sophisticated database forms and business logic with minimal effort. The result is big savings for IT managers, allowing them to build and maintain business applications with more efficient and productive development project schedules. The real cost savings come from the result of automating business processes across the enterprise. Every user is affected: Their time to complete processes is shortened, and the support they require to be successful with those processes decreases.

Recently, the new Oracle9i Certified Developer track was announced. This track includes both OCA and OCP credentials. Although the Oracle6i OCP is still available, much has changed since its release back in 2000. The new Oracle9i Developer Suite builds on the industry standard while setting the course for the future of PL/SQL development tools. Getting skilled and certified with Oracle9i Forms will open opportunities for you to take on projects for new solutions as well as existing ones.

Training Options
Oracle delivers training through a var

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