Oracle U. defends OCP title

Sara Cushman, Assistant Site Editor

Defending their new DBA certification requirement against critics who say it's costly and unnecessary, Oracle described the move as part of a new strategy to ensure that only top-shelf candidates receive the company's stamp of approval.

Complaints about the $2,000 price tag on a new course requirement can be addressed two ways, said Oracle officials. First off, DBAs can take less expensive, alternative routes to fulfilling the course requirement rather than writing a check to Oracle University. More importantly, any money spent on professional certification is chump change compared to the cost of relying on a DBA who leaves a customer in a lurch.

"Some of our customers could lose $100,000 instantly in lost transactions if their systems go down,'' said one Oracle U. spokesperson. "Therefore, Oracle owes it to them to provide a certification that's not just a piece of paper, but that really means a person can do the job.''

Any 9i candidates who have taken at least one exam prior to Sept. 1st are exempt from the new hands-on course requirement.

Oracle certified professional candidates who don't want to pay the $2,000 directly to Oracle can go to any Oracle authorized education center or attend a university or technical school offering the course. The tradeoff, said Oracle, is that typically courses at these schools take a few months to complete. Cost-conscious DBAs may want to search out Oracle instructor-led online courses, usually priced at

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about $1500. The cost of Oracle U. certification rose from less than $500 to an estimated $2,500 with the recent addition of the hands-on class.

Oracle U. is also moving away from multiple-choice exams that they said allow people to "regurgitate memorized facts from a book.'' Instead they will apply scenario-based exams that force test takers to analyze a situation and apply their knowledge.

Some experienced DBAs still object. Chuck Hankle, a senior Oracle database administrator with Descartes Systems Group in Pittsburgh, won't start the 9i OCP track as a result of the changes. He will instead be satisfied with his nine years of experience and Oracle 7 certification. "There is no good reason to force me to sit through a class when I probably have as much real-world experience as the instructor," he explained.

Oracle has a solution for Hankle, though, and others like him. One course option, Oracle 9i New Features, is designed for seasoned DBAs. The material builds on the knowledge veteran DBAs have and applies their skills to the newest technology, candidates can fulfill the new requirement this way.

Others say Oracle's new game plan is welcome and long overdue. "I, for one, would say that this should have been in place much earlier," says Ravinder Bahadur, a SearchDatabase member who responded to a story that appeared on the Web site when Oracle first announced the changes. "It really raises a question of the value of the certification if a non-Oracle, non-DBA can pass the exams by just reading books. With a hands-on requirement, at least we know how much are we really worth."

Feedback on this story? Send your comments to Assistant Site Editor Sara Cushman

For more information on certification requirements, go to Oracle University

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