Choosing the Right Associate Oracle Certification: 11g or 12c

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One of the most important resources that a company possesses is data. It represents the core of both practical processes and decision-making for most organizations. As such, data management is a critical component of a company’s operations. It is no surprise, then, that database administrators (DBAs) are in high demand. Job growth for DBAs is projected to remain robust and is an excellent area of specialization for IT professionals.

If you are currently an Oracle DBA, earning an Oracle certification is a smart move. You may be uncertain which certification you should pursue. Some people say that you’re better off with 12c. Others assert that 11g is the way to go.

Both sides are right in their way because it depends. Both certs are valuable. You can not go wrong with either. However, the optimal choice for you depends on your experience, software environment, and career goals.

To help determine which cert is right for you, it’s helpful to examine a couple of factors. The differences between the releases and your situation are important to consider. Let’s take a look at these factors to help you figure out which path you should take.

Differences Among Oracle 11g, 12c, and 18c Platforms

While each release has unique features, they are all based on the same Oracle core platform. They are not entirely different products. They are versions of a product on a continuum of ever-improving performance and efficiency.

Oracle 11g: A key feature of Oracle’s “g” release is their support for grid computing. This allows resources to be distributed and virtualized to meet system demands. Other enhancements include automated tuning features, performance analysis tools, and Real Application Testing. The 11g release improved the database infrastructure’s overall efficiency, manageability, and resiliency.

Oracle 12c: The most significant innovation in the 12c release is its introduction of multi-tenancy. This allows multiple, pluggable databases to share a common infrastructure — without compromising security. Multitenancy is ideal for cloud deployment, which is another key enhancement in 12c. Others are new caching mechanisms, in-memory aggregation, invisible columns, and multiple indexes. These features serve to improve overall efficiency and performance.

Oracle 18c: Oracle’s newest release supports cloud and hybrid cloud configurations. With autonomous patching and tuning, 18c is lauded for its “self-driving” capabilities. Machine learning systems reduce the need for a DBA’s involvement in many tasks. Additionally, 18c marks the beginning of a new, annual release model. Oracle intends to provide incremental enhancements through frequent updates. System autonomy, cloud services, and annual updates make Oracle a highly cost-effective and efficient platform.

Requirements for Oracle Certified Associate Certification

Currently, certifications are only available for 11g and 12c. Oracle has not yet released any information about certification for 18c. For both 11g and 12c, you will need to pass two exams.

Exams Required for Oracle Certified Associate 11g:

  • 1Z0-071: Oracle Database SQL or

  • 1Z0-061: Oracle Database 12c - SQL Fundamentals

  • 1Z0-052: Oracle Database 11g - Administration I

Exams Required for Oracle Certified Associate 12c:

  • 1Z0-071: Oracle Database SQL or

  • 1Z0-061: Oracle Database 12c - SQL Fundamentals

  • 1Z0-062: Oracle Database 12c Administration

As you’ll notice, both exams share the same introductory course. Successfully passing both exams earns you either 11g or12c Oracle Certified Associate Certification (OCA).

Which OCA Certification Should I Take?

The requirements for both certs are similar, which makes it even harder to choose between them. But this is where your situation and goals come into play. Here are some valuable questions and answers to help guide you in the right direction.

Both certifications require passing the Oracle Database 12c SQL 1Z0-071 exam first. Does it make sense to take a step back and earn the 11g?

In most cases, no. Earning the most current credentials is invariably the right move. Unless specific circumstances make 11g the best choice for you, you’re almost certainly better off going for a 12c cert.

Technology is always changing, and IT pros need to stay current — except where companies aren’t caught up. In those cases, it might make sense to earn the 11g.

What sort of specific circumstances would make the 11g a better choice?

If your company is running 11g and has no intention of upgrading (ever), then an 11g cert makes sense. However, it is unusual for an organization to dismiss the possibility of upgrading completely. Especially when a newer release delivers more efficiency and cost-savings — as 12c does, it’s wise to think carefully about certifying simply to support an older release.

What if I have not worked with Oracle for several years? Isn’t it better to fill that gap with the 11g than to leap into the more-advanced 12c?

Any lapse in experience with Oracle databases may inspire you to go for the older 11g certification. It’s common to a break from the technology during a job or role change. Depending on the systems you were operating in the meantime, you feel like you need the “g” step to get back up to speed. That would be understandable.

But again, it’s wise to give it thought. 11g and 12c are essentially the same core product, so the learning curve is minimal. The differences between the two releases center on enhancements, not on primary changes. If you go for 12c, you’ll get everything from 11g, plus a little more. And if you’re coming back after a break, learning Oracle again will be relatively easy.

How about if I’m new to both Oracle and database administration? It’s daunting to leap into the sophisticated features of 12c. But will start with 11g limit my opportunities?

Not. All of the releases are based on the same core product. That means that a knowledge of the fundamentals will leave you qualified to work with any release. Upskilling to 12c will be easy if you’re familiar with 11g.

There are other RDBMS platforms out there. What’s the best choice for experienced DBAs who want to build skills and credentials specifically with Oracle’s system?

Anyone with foundational knowledge about database administration and SQL should feel comfortable aiming for 12c. You’ll encounter functions and elements of Oracle’s platform and extension language, PL/SQL, which might be new. The operational logic and principles won’t be alien, though skills and knowledge acquired working with other RDBMS will easily translate to Oracle’s system.

What if I want to certify for the newest release, 18c? What’s the best way to prepare for that?

There is no certification path for 18c, yet. If you want to prepare in advance for it, a 12c certificate is absolutely the way to go. While 11g covers the fundamentals of the Oracle system, it doesn’t include the most important innovations of the “c” releases. Multitenancy and support of cloud configurations are the pivotal enhancements of the newest versions.

An 11g certificate will give you basics, but it may not adequately prepare you for 18c. If you have your eyes on the most current certification, you should invest in learning the 12c.

A Smart Investment

Whatever your circumstances and goals, you are not well-served by earning any Oracle certification, particularly if there’s an element of SQL. The modern world is becoming increasingly data-driven. Organizations of all types need specialists to help them manage and analyze their information.

The Oracle platform is the most widely used RDBMS in the world today. That is not likely to change anytime soon. Given the growing need for DBAs and the persistent popularity of Oracle, earning either certification is sure to advance your IT career.

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