Thursday, April 11, 2013

Should I Get Certified as an Oracle 11G DBA or as a 12c DBA?


Before you read too far into this article, take a look at the date it was written. All of the points I will bring up here are time-sensitive. The older this gets, the less relevant it will become. That said, right this minute, the advice that I would give to anyone is overwhelmingly in favor of becoming Oracle Certified Professional in 11G by taking the exams 1Z0-052 and 1Z0-053 (plus an exam fulfilling the SQL requirement). Once you have your 11G OCP certification, you can take the Oracle 12c upgrade test (1Z0-060) when it becomes available. The reasons why I make this recommendation follow.

Right now, 12c is not out yet
Obviously this is the first of my points that will become obsolete. Oracle might release 12c at any time. However, until they do, why would you consider putting your career on hold waiting for an unknown release date?  No company is using Oracle 12c as a production database. No one is including 12C certifications as a requirement in job offers. 11G is the version that most companies with a production Oracle database are using.

Right now, the 1Z0-062 and 1Z0-063 tests are not out
As with the above point, this is subject to change at any time. However, until it does, you can’t even begin studying for the exams because the topics are not published. There are no third-party books available and even the 12c documentation is not available. Once the exams are released, they will be released as a beta. Personally, I hate betas (which is a subject for another post), but you might feel differently. If you want to take it, the beta period will last for about fourteen weeks. For about eleven weeks after that, the post-beta evaluation will be run. If you take the beta exam, you won’t know your score until a week or two after the post-beta evaluation. If you want to take the production version, you cannot schedule it until after the post beta period. Either way, this means you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) take Admin II (1Z0-063) for about twenty-six weeks after the start of the Admin I beta. Again I ask – why would you even consider putting your Oracle career on hold for this length of time?  Even if the beta was released tomorrow, in the time it would take to get your scores for 1Z0-062, you could have studied for and taken both 1Z0-052 and 1Z0-053.

Oracle 12c installations will be in the minority for quite some time
When Oracle 12c gets released, there is not going to be a mad scramble by companies abandoning 11G in favor of 12c. There will certainly be some early adopters. However, the vast majority of installations will move to it at a very relaxed pace. Companies running Oracle databases have huge amounts of money invested in the data and the applications currently on them. Switching to a new release is not an automatic process that is performed without significant advance planning. For the first twelve to eighteen months, the installations of 12c are likely to be a tiny fraction of those with 11G. During this period, you really want to have an 11G certification, not a 12c certification.

Companies moving to 12c will want people with 11G knowledge
When companies do move to 12c, they will likely be on 11G and need someone experienced with that version and knowledge about how to upgrade. If you look at the topics list for 1Z0-052, you will not see any on upgrading from prior releases. You will, however, see that topic on the 1Z0-050 ‘New Features’ exam. This will be the same for release 12c. Oracle professionals who have knowledge of 11G and have taken the 12c upgrade exam will have more of the information needed by companies moving to 12c than will professionals that have taken the 12c DBA certification track alone. The topics on the Oracle New Features exams specifically cover the reasons why upgrading makes sense and how the new release enhances the capabilities of the Oracle database. The topics on the Admin I and Admin II exams do not have this focus.

Once 12c has been released and adoption starts to climb, my emphasis on just how important it is to become 11G certified and then upgrade to 12c will diminish. That said, I cannot imagine recommending going straight for the 12c certification until mid-to-late 2014. I think that it will take at least that long for 12c installations to be significant enough to consider skipping 11G DBA certification.