Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Upgrading from Older Releases of Oracle


A reader of my prior post about choosing between 11G or 12C when pursuing a new DBA certification asked for advice about upgrading. He currently holds the Oracle Certified Professional DBA certification for release 8i and wanted to know if he should upgrade directly to Oracle 11G. Rather than making a quick reply in a comment, I decided to create a larger blog post on the topic.

What is Possible?
It is only possible to upgrade if you have the Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) designation. There is no upgrade path if you only hold the Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) designation. You can also only upgrade where a test exists. Below are the six upgrade exams that Oracle Education currently offers:
  • 1Z0-030 -- Oracle9i New Features for Administrators
  • 1Z0-035 -- Oracle9i DBA New Features for Oracle 7.3 and Oracle8 OCPs
  • 1Z0-040 -- Oracle Database 10g: New Features for Administrators
  • 1Z0-045 -- Oracle Database 10g DBA New Features for Oracle8i OCPs
  • 1Z0-050 -- Oracle Database 11g: New Features for Administrators
  • 1Z0-055 -- Oracle Database 11g: New Features for 9i OCPs


The specific question asked was about upgrading directly from an 8i OCP to 11G. As you can see from the list above, there is no single upgrade test available to jump directly between those two releases. That said, there are four possible combinations of exams that will upgrade an OCP certification from 8i to release 11G:
  1. 1Z0-045 & 1Z0-050 -- This path will add two additional releases to your credentials. After passing both exams, you will be certified in three releases of Oracle: 8i, 10G and 11G.
  2. 1Z0-030 & 1Z0-055 -- This path also requires only two exams and results in three certifications, but the releases of Oracle will be 8i, 9i, and 11G.
  3. 1Z0-030 & 1Z0-040 & 1Z0-050 -- This route adds one more exam, but also results in a an additional certification. Upon completing the three exams, you will be certified in four releases of Oracle: 8i, 9i, 10G and 11G.
  4. 1Z0-052 & 1Z0-053 -- Strictly speaking, this isn't an upgrade path. However, this route came up some time ago in the OTN Oracle certification forum. I was assured by a certification manager that for an 8i OCP, taking these exams would result in the candidate being Oracle 11G certified, and would not require a hands-on training class. In the end, the candidate would be certified in 8i and 11G.


What is Practical?
Taking certification exams costs money and preparing for them takes time. You want to get the best return on the time and money invested. Getting a certification that you'll never get any value back from is simply a waste.  Of the four options above, three will provide you with one certification per test.  The last provides only a single certification in return for passing two exams.  I don't see any reason to use that particular set of tests to upgrade to 11G.  Either of the other two-test upgrade paths will give you more in return for your investment.
In order to choose between the other two-test routes, you must decide which version you would rather skip.  From that perspective, as a general rule, the older a release, the less value that you will gain from being certified in it.  Oracle 9i is definitely losing market share to the newer releases.  Skipping that release when upgrading makes considerably more sense than skipping 10G.
If you have some personal reason not to skip a release and you have no objection to spending extra time and money on an additional exam, then you can certainly take the three-test route (1Z0-030 & 1Z0-040 & 1Z0-050). However, for most people upgrading from Oracle 8i, I would recommend upgrading to 10G, and then to 11G (1Z0-045 & 1Z0-050).  For DBAs upgrading from even older releases (7.3 or Oracle8), I would recommend a similar path using the 1Z0-035 upgrade exam and then 1Z0-050.