January 8, 2009
OCP Advisor interviewed Ben Prusinski, Managing Principal from IT Convergence - a high energy database architect, author, speaker, multi-linguist and Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) and Oracle Certified Professional (OCP). An Oracle Magician indeed as his eponymous blog - http://oracle-magician.blogspot.com says.
OCP Advisor (OCPA): Please tell us about your professional background and Oracle experience
Ben Prusinski (BP): I have worked as an Oracle database consultant, administrator and developer for past 12 years. In addition to my experience with Oracle, I have also worked on MySQL, MS SQL Server and IBM DB2 UDB database systems. I started with version 7.3.4 on Oracle and UNIX (Sun Solaris) platform and was fortunate to learn clustering and high available technologies since then with OPS (Oracle Parallel Server) which later evolved into Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) and physical standby database which became Data Guard.
My focus is with financial, manufacturing, government, defense and technology industries with a specialty in Oracle High Availability (HA) technologies especially RAC and Data Guard as well as Oracle database performance tuning, upgrades, migrations and database security.
I am also the author of an upcoming book on database migrations to Oracle from Rampant TechPress called "Migrate to Oracle" which should be available in the spring of 2009.
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?
BP: I have been a beta tester for new releases of Oracle database software. By trying out new versions of the Oracle database, I am able to quickly learn and maintain skills and knowledge in advance of key new technologies for the Oracle software stack. Conferences and user groups are another way that I share and learn about new advances with Oracle and other database products. Lastly, I try to take a new course or two every years to maintain and build my knowledge base.
OCPA: New Oracle technologies are being introduced every year. Which technologies excite you most? What's your advice for learning these new skills/technologies?
BP: The new features for database monitoring and testing for Oracle 11g excite me quite a bit. Oracle 11g provides a one-stop shop to monitor all database trace files and log files in the Automatic Diagnostic Repository or ADR. The Data Recovery Advisor in 11g also fascinates me by providing more tools to quickly resolve backup and recovery issues.
Of course, the new Oracle Exadata server introduced at the Oracle OpenWorld 2008 conference this year fascinates me by providing a super computer for high performance database environments.
My advice for learning these key new technologies in order to acquire skills is to participate in the Oracle user community by attending local and national (IOUG) user group meetings and conferences to learn and share knowledge. Besides, its a lot of fun and great way to meet new colleagues and friends.
Second, download and install the new releases of the Oracle software to experiment and understand how the Oracle database really works!
Third, read the documentation for new features and notes on Metalink for key new features. Many hidden nuggets of wisdom are available for free. You would be amazed at how many experienced DBAs never actually have read the documentation or installed Oracle software!
OCPA: What motivated you to take the OCA and OCP certification exams?
BP: I work as an Oracle consultant and many clients insist on certifications. Even though I have many years of real world Oracle DBA experience, many companies also want their in house DBA talent to possess Oracle database certifications. With the challenging economy, I see a lot more clients and employers wanting both years of experience and the certifications.
(Editor's Note: Please read a related blog post entitled: Certain Measures for Uncertain Times that echo's the same observation as that of Ben)
OCPA: How did you prepare for your OCA and OCP exams?
BP: I prepared for both the OCA and OCP exams by studying the Oracle 10g OCA/OCP certification guide from Oracle Press as well as taking the practice exams from Transcender and Self Test Software as recommended by Oracle Education. I also installed and configured Oracle 10g databases in my home lab environment on Windows and Red Hat Linux. This helped immensely to focus and retain the knowledge to pass both exams. I spent a total of 3 months to pass both the 10g OCA and 10g OCP exams. I recommend that candidates use the Oracle Education study preparation guide as a starting point to get certified.
OCPA: Please share your OCA/OCP exam experience with us.
BP: I had a good experience preparing, taking and passing the exams. It helped me to review certain Oracle 10g new features that I had little to no experience with before. As an Oracle DBA and consultant, we do not always have the opportunity to use every new feature. The exam experience allowed me to brush up on weaker areas in my skill set as well as to work with features that I had not used before such as the Oracle 10g Database Resource Manager and Oracle 10g Scheduler.
OCPA: What advice and tips do you have for aspiring OCA/OCP candidates?
BP: Study, study, study! Get real experience first. Just memorizing a bunch of terms will not benefit you for OCA and OCP. You really want to understand the material. Then you will easily pass the exams. I was able to quickly pass with flying colors on the first try because I already had a solid Oracle DBA background. Beginners to Oracle will require more hands on experience and preparation time to master the content. Do not try to cram for the OCA and OCP with only a week to pass because you will fail. Spend at least 4-5 weeks for each exam preparation as there is a lot of material to digest.
OCPA: Lastly, what benefits did you get from your Oracle certification
BP: Credibility. Recognition as an Oracle expert. The Oracle certification has given me new benefits in that I have increased confidence working with new and existing clients since I have proven baseline knowledge and competency on Oracle database technology. More importantly, it helped me to improve my basics for Oracle database administration while refreshing my knowledge of certain little used features with Oracle 10g. Plus I have a cool new certificate that I can frame and display with pride!
OCPA: As a small token of our thanks, we shall ship you one OCP Blog T-Shirt from the OCP Blog Gift Shop.
BP: Please send me a large one!