contributed by Jim Czuprynski, Oracle ACE Director
With Oracle OpenWorld 2019 just around the corner, it’s a great time to pause and consider the future direction of IT in general and our professions in particular. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my nearly 40-year-long career – 20 of those years as an Oracle DBA - so I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my insights.
I subscribe to several daily and weekly briefings on the state of IT around the world, and the most frightening aspect is the almost-daily announcement of yet another security breach, ransomware attack, or advanced persistent threat (ATP). One spot of good news is that almost all of these breaches involve what I consider to be less than superior technology – for example, cheap but unsecured Cloud environments – or simple human oversight.
I firmly believe that Oracle Database technology is still among the strongest in terms of its security features, and that’s backed up by its Cloud implementation because there is no way not to store data at rest in encrypted fashion. Add to that the end-to-end encryption capabilities of SQLNet networking for data in transit and you’ve got a robust, secure, difficult-to-penetrate platform for DBAs and developers alike.
I’ve just been re-discovering one of my favorite Isaac Asimov novels, The End of Eternity, in which he writes that his main character matured as he “sharpened his ability on the honing strap experience.” I thought that was an excellent metaphor for what an Oracle DBA goes through as they mature into a solid IT professional.
With all the changes in the DBA role in the past few years, it’s obvious that the best way to survive in the role is to become a professional. And that means experience is simply not enough any more to maintain your footing; you’ve got to obtain external, reliable proof that your “chops” are real. I believe the best way to do that is to pursue and obtain one or more Oracle certifications, especially the Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) designation. And with the dramatic growth in interest in Autonomous Database, it might also be a good time take a look at those offerings, too.
I won’t shade the truth: Achieving the OCP – and maintaining that designation throughout my career’s arc – hasn’t been easy for me, mainly because I’m a terrible test-taker, and the test questions are sometimes difficult to decipher. That’s when I harken back to the words of Jimmy Duggan, Tom Hanks’s character in [the movie] A League of Their Own, said: “It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
Finally, I’d be especially wary of anyone promising a faster way to achieving certified expertise than mastering the “why” of database features. I encourage all of us to take a solemn pledge to avoid concentrating our efforts on merely passing the requisite certification test via shortcuts like “brain dumps” and cheap (or free!) online courses taught by non-qualified instructors.
Most importantly, if you observe anyone advocating these solutions, be sure to report any apparent violations to preserve the value of the honest toil and struggle we’ve all expended to master the concepts that underpin the knowledge that’s being certified.