December 31, 2008

What's your 2009 New Year Resolution?

It is now hours away from the New Year - 2009!

As we get an extra second this year, let me pause to reflect on the past year. Throughout the year we got hundreds of e-mails and have replied to all of them within a reasonable time. We appreciate the attention from our blog readers from all over the world and for your thoughtful comments, opinions and suggestions.

Thanks to everyone for making this blog the most popular Oracle certification related blog. This year we were overjoyed to welcome the Oracle Certification Program (OCP) Team blog and personally I had the opportunity to meet and talk to all the team members at 2008 Oracle Openworld (OOW). In 2009, look forward to the featured interviews with the Oracle OCP team.

The new year would see the launch of R12 Production exam in May or June time frame. Please join the OCP Blog R12 Beta Challenge and ensure that the Oracle Certification Program team have statistically significant number of beta exam candidates to launch the production exam without further postponement. Information about EBS R12 would be discussed by the EBS R12 Advisor on the Oracle EBS R12 Blog. So please visit the blog regularly in 2009. There would be exciting monthly prizes on the OCP Blog including the Apple iPod Nano for the Nano9s practice questions!

It is now time for 2009 New Year resolutions.

Here's my top 5 resolutions (not in any particular order):
- Make a blog post a day
- Run a marathon for charity
- Achieve Oracle EBS R12 certification credentials
- Write Oracle EBS Certification Handbook

- Help others get certified on their chosen Oracle track

What's your 2009 New Year resolution?

December 30, 2008

12 Steps to a Cure

On the Oracle Certification team blog, one of the most thought provoking post has been the seven part series on the topic of cheating. If you did not get a chance to read them, here are the links:

The word first reminded me of high school memories of pranks of the past similar to those portrayed in a hilarious comedy that you can watch on DVD - Cheats. However, the issue is more serious when it pervades the world of professional certification where the 'test of purity' of the gems for an Oracle jewel is doubted as there are hundreds of 'fake' ones available for 'sale'.

For those who are 'addicted' to this habit, allow me to propose a twelve step method to get a cure. The twelve step method is inspired from a highly successful program followed by Alcoholics Anonymous to rid themselves of their love for the bottle.

Step 1: The initial feeling - "I can't pass the exam without it"
For those who have adopted the bad habit of looking at help kits that promise 'guaranteed' questions and answers among other cash-back promises, the intital feeling of failure is justified. One has to recognize this fear and look towards people and institutions who can help them follow the righteous methods.

Step 2: Recognize that somebody else can help you
There are dozens of individuals who are regulars on Oracle Certification forums, blogs like this one and your peers who can guide oneself to the most effective methods of Oracle certification exam preparation.

Step 3: Welcome others to help you
"No man is an island, entire of itself". Introduce oneself to the experts as well as peers who have taken the certification exam. Express your fears and shortcomings to them. If someone comes forward to help, allow them to start the healing process instead of insulating oneself against them.

Step 4: Take inventory of your skills and knowledge level
Having decided on taking a certification exam, scan the exam content and take an inventory of your knowledge level. You may be surprised how many topics you know quite well and maybe fewer where additional study is needed. The more practice and hours that you spend of preparing for the exam, the better are your chances of performing after the exam - that is on the job. Knowledge never goes waste. You may not be applying it immediately but sooner than later there would be opportunities to utilize it.

Step 5: Share your knowledge and experiences
Knowledge is an unique resource that increases when you share with others. Sharing exam preparation experiences, study notes and tips from those who have taken the exam are all priceless. Share your doubts and questions of Metalink/OTN forums and see how dozens of members are ready to help you with the answer.

Step 6: Show your willingness to change
It is indeed a difficult path at first on the road to change. For those who are fighting a battle against their bulge, remember the first time giving up your favorite dessert when dieting or going to the gym on a regular basis. It is a change in lifestyle to say the least. It all starts with a willingness to change like getting a gym membership.

Step 7: Work towards removing your shortcomings
The Seven Wonders of the modern world like the Great Pyramid and the Taj Mahal were not built overnight. Thousands of skilled workers worked decades to build them. To achieve the wonders of Oracle certification, work on your areas of deficiency for days, if not weeks. No mountain is high enough for a determined climber.

Step 8: Identify those you have harmed
It may not be difficult to identify those you harmed because of your habit. Some of these have been discussed in the Oracle Certification Team blog posts. The person who has been harmed most is yourself as you have missed a great opportunity to be evaluated sincerely and be recognized as one the best.
Step 9: Make amends
Each individual has one's own way to make amends. Would leave the thought here for individuals to think of their own positive action to make amends for their past deeds.

Step 10: Daily or weekly review
Review your addiction on a daily or weekly basis. Soon you would not even require a 'nicotine' patch to overcome the 'withdrawal symptoms' because none would be there!

Step 11: Grow out, grow yourself
Within a few weeks, you would be more confident about your skills, your own self and your work and communication would show this difference. Last but not the least, the joy of achieving success in the certification exam would not be clouded by any doubt of your capabilities or colored with unfair means of the past.

Step 12: Carry this message to others
Spread the word about your success. Spread the message that one can succeed without the 'addiction'. Forward this blog post - "12 Steps to a Cure" to those who are 'addicted' and are suffering. It is our dream to have this menace eradicated and elevate Oracle Certification (and your self) to the high pedestal that is richly deserved.
This blog post has been inspired from the best-seller "Understanding the Twelve Steps" by Terence T.Gorkni, Prentice Hall-Parkside Publications.

December 28, 2008

Meet The Experts: Oracle Certified Master Nandakumar

We have featured Oracle Certified Associates, Experts and Professionals till date. It gives me great pleasure to present to you this week's featured expert - Oracle Certified Master (OCM) Nandakumar Thukkaram.

OCP Advisor (OCPA): Hello, Nanda - Welcome to the OCP Blog. Please tell us about your professional background and Oracle experience.

Nandakumar Thukkaram (NT): I did my graduate studies in Computer Applications and working on Oracle technologies for the last five years. I started my career as a DBA with SQL Star International (an Oracle partner and OATC). For the last three years, I am working at the India development center of Oracle Corporation. I have worked on several competency areas include core DBA activities, Oracle Internals, Data Backup, Data Recovery, RAC, High Availability and Performance Optimization. Recently, I have joined the Oracle E-Business Suite team.

OCPA: Your blog discuss the latest and greatest releases and products. How do you keep abreast of these changes and pick up the skills on these new technologies?

NT: I am fortunate to be working at Oracle. I have made a conscious effort to regularly update my skills on the latest versions and its features. I share some of my learning on my blog.

OCPA: Which of the latest versions/technologies excites you the most?

NT: Oracle Database is the best product especially the 11g release with several amazing features. I am looking forward to working on EBS R12 with 11g Database with RAC and Data Guard.

OCPA: Which certifications did you achieve before attempting OCM credential?

NT: I got my OCP credentials on Oracle 9i, 10g and 11g and 11i Application DBA tracks. I also got Oracle Certified Expert (OCE) certification for 10g RAC track.

OCPA: How long did you prepare for your OCM exam?

NT: OCM exam needs extensive practice on each topic and basic understanding of all areas. I prepared for three months to prepare both for the theory (online exam) and practical (on the system) exam.

OCPA: Please share your OCM exam experience with us

NT: The OCM exam tests your knowledge at an advanced level so that one would be able handle issues over a wide ranging area. More than the certification exam itself, the experience you undergo during the preparation for the exam is very rich and unforgettable. Also, one needs to perform successfully within the allotted time period to pass the practical exam.

OCPA: What advice and tips do you have for aspiring OCM candidates?

NT: Please read through all the topics at least twice before you start your practice on the system. Start with the topics that seem easier for you so and finish all practicals related to it. This would give you a fair idea of what lies ahead and also help you gain more confidence. Practice as much as possible. The more errors you encounter the better as you will learn more from it. I practiced for three to five hours everyday and followed a plan. Keep the records of your practice so that you can revise them later.

OCPA: Lastly, what benefits did you get from your Oracle certification experience?

NT: More than the certification itself, the greatest benefit is the experience and knowledge you gain while preparing for the exam! As an Oracle Certified Master (OCM) there is global recognition like being featured on OTN. It also keeps you on your toes and motivates you to update regularly as everyone has a high expectation of your work and you want to make sure that they are not disappointed!

OCPA: As a small token of thanks, may I present you an OCP Blog T-Shirt*

NT: Thanks for the gift! Wish all OCP Blog readers all the very best for their certification exams!

*Editor's Note: Nanda's OCP Blog t-shirt is ready for shipment. If you are keen to win OCP Blog gift items and be featured on 'Meet the Experts' section, please e-mail the blog editor at

December 26, 2008

Christmas Gifts from OCP Team

The holiday season is in full swing now with gifts being exchanged between friends and family. The Oracle Certification Program (OCP) Team has done their part - R12 Beta Exam Dates have been extended to April 15, 2009!

There are two exams for which the beta testing period ends on January 31, 2009:
1Z1-225 Oracle EBS R12: Inventory and Purchasing Fundamentals and 1Z1-226 Oracle EBS R12: Inventory and Order Management Fundamentals

For the following exams, the beta testing period has been extended to April 15, 2009:

  • 1Z1-206 Oracle E-Business Suite R12: System Administration

  • 1Z1-215 Oracle EBS R12: General Ledger and Payables Fundamentals

  • 1Z1-216 Oracle EBS R12: General Ledger and Receivables Fundamentals

  • 1Z0-244 Oracle EBS R12: Advanced Supply Chain Planning
Take advantage of the OCP Blog R12 Beta Challenge now. Register for the exams and enter you name for the monthly drawing for exciting prizes. Starting January 2009 there would be a monthly drawing for one Apple iPod Nano for Nano9s - Daily Practice Tests. Surely, that should be sweet music to your ears as you prepare for the R12 Beta Exams!

December 25, 2008

Lessons from Black Friday Rush

A very popular question from the blog readers is "How much time is required to prepare for Oracle certification exams?"

As always, answers to questions like this start with the word "depends". A lot depends on individual expertise on all the topics listed in the exam content. Also it depends whether its a foundation (read easier) or an advanced level exam.

Typically there are 18-20 topics for each exam. Assuming one has complete mastery of all the topics, about two hours may be devoted on an average to review the topics. This means a whole work week or 40 hours is needed to prepare for the exam! Most of us have a 'day job' whether working for a living or studying in a college or university. It takes a high level of commitment and motivation to spend even two hours every day to study for a certification exam. About 3-4 weeks of regular study would then make one exam ready.

There are some lessons one can learn about exam preparation from one of the busiest shopping days in United States called 'Black Friday'. 'Black Friday' is the Friday after Thanksgiving, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Though 'Black Friday' is not an official holiday but many employees (including myself) have the day off. Hence, the number of potential shoppers increase manifold. The term 'Black Friday' originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black, that is, turning a profit. In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside, the stores shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have only a few of the big draw items. Retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier, sometimes at midnight) and offer door buster deals to draw people to their stores.

Oracle beta exams are like the mega discounted deals. Certification candidates are rushing to take the exam before the beta testing period or 'deal' period ends. To take advantage of the deals, shoppers wait in queue for hours (for the popular Apple iPhones some were in line for nearly 48 hours!) to be one of the first to enter the store. Are you one of the early shoppers? Did you start preparing for the beta exams months ahead of time? There are a few experienced shoppers I know who plan their buying strategy weeks ahead. Are you one of those experienced certification veterans who have perfected the test taking plan? One person I know likes to build a project plan around the exam preparation and likes to execute it as his own project manager. Perhaps you can do that too and get a PMP certification in the bargain!

Please share your beta exam preparation story with us.

Let me take the opportunity to wish all our blog readers the very best for the holiday season!

Depending on the occasion you celebrate: Wishing you a Merry Christmas OR Happy Hanukkah OR Happy Kwanzaa OR Happy Al-Hijira OR Happy New Year 2009!

May all your certification dreams come true!

December 18, 2008

Featured Expert Wins Oracle ACE Award

It is my pleasure to share a second good news in as many days. One of our featured experts, Sabdar Syed, has won the coveted Oracle ACE Award.

Sabdar Syed is presently working as an Oracle Database Administrator for Saudi Hollandi Bank in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at Riyadh. Sabdar is an Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) in Oracle 10g, 9i and 8i, an Oracle Certified Expert in Oracle 10g RAC Administration and Oracle 11i Applications DBA Certified Professional as well. For Sabdar's ACE profile, please click here

A prolific contributor on the Oracle Certification forum on OTN, Sabdar is also an avid blogger.

Please join me in congratulating Sabdar on this remarkable achievement. Sabdar is a true inspiration to thousand of Oracle Certification candidates. As I mentioned in one of my blog posts, the next step for an Oracle Certified Professional is to become an Oracle ACE. Sabdar has made the prediction come true!

Sabdar - the OCP Blog community is very proud of you and join you in the celebrations!

December 17, 2008

Featured Expert Elected to OAUG Board of Directors

Our most recent featured expert on the OCP Blog, Isaac Patrick Gresham has been elected to the OAUG Board of Directors!

Please join me in congratulating Patrick on this stupendous achievement.

As part of Oracle Certification community, we look forward to Patrick's thought leadership and direction in making the Oracle user group family more vibrant and relevant in 2009.

Patrick, the OCP Blog community is very proud of you!

December 9, 2008

Oracle University Goes Green

Oracle University has always been on the forefront of enhancing the education experience and addressing student requests. One of the most frequent requests was for a 'soft copy' of the student guides.

As part of the Green Initiative, Oracle Univeristy is now replacing printed student guides with downloadable eKits for each Live Virtual Class and certain classroom courses. The eKits would provide tremedous flexibility and portability to the students.

The plan as outlined by Oracle Univeristy is to provide the eKits online one week prior to the start of class. Students can prepare questions and print important concepts and procedures before the actual class. The eKit would be available for download for a total of 45 days. The icon below signifies if the course includes the eKit.

It is estimated that this would lead to savings of 100 million printed pages every year! Oracle gets our vote as the Green Company of the Year!