Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud 2019 Specialist : My Thoughts

You’ve probably heard that Oracle have made some training and certifications free in recent times (here). We are approaching the end of that period now. Only about 15 more days to go.

Initially I thought I might try and do all the certifications, but other factors got in the way, so I just decided to do one. You can probably guess which one by the title of this post. 🙂

I had seen a few people speaking about their experiences of the training videos, so I thought I would give my opinions. Remember, this is my opinion of the training materials and exam, not my opinion of the cloud services themselves. I am also aware that this was free, so my judgement is going to be different than if I had to pay for it.

The Voices in the Videos

A number of people have been critical about the voices on the training videos. I really didn’t see a problem with them.

When you record videos and do presentations you have to decide who your target audience is. A large number of people that use Oracle have English as a second language. Having spent years presenting around the world I’ve learned you have to slow down a bit, or you lose some of the audience. I do this on my YouTube videos, and it can make them sound a bit monotone at times. When I’ve recorded my videos at my normal talking speed, people have responded to say they were brutally fast. You can’t please everyone. You have to make a choice, and for some professional training materials that probably means speaking slower.

I listened to most of these training videos at 1.5 speed and it was fine. The fact I wanted to listen to it this way is not a criticism of the training. I’ve listened to a number of Pluralsite courses at 1.7 speed, and I tend to listen to non-fiction Audible books on a higher speed. You just have to find what works for you.

It’s just my opinion, but I thought the voice was fine.

Content Inconsistencies

There are inconsistencies between the training materials and the documentation. I originally listed some, but I don’t think it’s really helpful. As with any training material, I think it’s worth going through the training material and documentation at the same time and cross referencing them, as well as trying stuff out if you can. It helps you to learn and it makes sure you really know what you are talking about.

Why are there inconsistencies? I suspect it’s because the cloud services have changed since the training materials were recorded. Remember, there is a quarterly push to the cloud, so every three months things might look or act a little different.

What should you do? I would suggest you learn both the training material, and the reality where the two diverge, but assume the training material is correct for the purpose of the exam, even if you know it to be wrong in reality. This is what I’ve done for all previous certifications, so this is nothing new to me.

How did I prepare?

As mentioned above, I watched the videos at 1.5 speed. For any points that were new to me, or I had suspicions about the accuracy, I checked the docs and my own articles on the subject. I also logged into the ADW and ATP services I’m running on the Free Tier to check some things out.

I did the whole of this preparation on Sunday, but remember I’ve been using ADW and ATP on and off since they were released. If these are new to you, you may want to take a little longer. I attempted to book the exam for Monday morning, but the first date I could get was late Wednesday.

Content

The training content is OK, but it contains things that are not specific to Autonomous Database. Sure, they are features that can be used inside, or alongside ADB, but I would suggest they are not really relevant to this training.

Why? I think it’s padding. Cloud services should be easy to use and intuitive, so in many cases I don’t think they should need training and certification. They should lead you down the right path and warn of impending doom. If the docs are clear and accurate, you can always dig a little deeper there.

This certification is not about being a DBA or developer. It’s about using the ADB services. I don’t think there is that much to know about most cloud services, and what really matters goes far beyond the scope of online training and certifications IMHO. 🙂

Free

The training and certifications are free until the middle of May 2020, which is when the new 2020 syllabus and certifications for some of the content comes out. By passing this free certification you are passing the 2019 certification, and they will stay valid for 18 months, then you will have to re-certify or stop using the title. I guess it’s up to you whether you feel a pressing need to re-certify or not.

Update: Some of the other training and exams are already based on the 2020 syllabus. Thanks for Adrian Png for pointing this out. 🙂

I’m sure this would not be popular at Oracle, but I would suggest they keep the cloud training and certifications free forever. Let’s be honest. Oracle are a bit-player in the cloud market. They need all the help they can get to win hearts and minds. Making the cloud training and certification free forever may help to draw people in. I don’t see this type of material as a revenue stream, but I’m sure some folks at Oracle do.

From what I’ve seen, the training materials are entry level, and something I would encourage people to watch before using the services, so why not make them free? That’s rhetorical. I know the answer. 🙂

Would I pay for it?

No. I watched the material to get a feel for what they included. I’m not saying I already knew everything, because I didn’t, but I knew most of what I wanted to know before using this stuff. Of course, if I had come in clean, this would have been pretty helpful I guess, but I think it would have been just as easy for me to use some of the online docs, blog posts and tutorials to get to grips with things. That’s just my opinion though. Other people may feel differently.

Would I have sat the exam if I had to pay for it? No. I don’t think there is anything here that I wouldn’t expect someone to pick up during their first few hours of working with the service. It’s nice that it’s free, but I’m not sure it makes sense to pay for it.

What about the exam?

The exam just proves you have watched the videos and have paid attention. If someone came into my office and said, “Don’t worry, I’m an Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud 2019 Specialist. Everything is going to be OK!”, I would probably lead them to the door…

I don’t think the exam was so much hard, as confusing at times. There were some questions I think need revision, but maybe I’m wrong. 🙂

What about doing the exam online?

This freaked me out a bit. You have to take photos of yourself at your desk, and photos of the room. Somewhere at Pearson Vue they have photos of my washing hanging up. 🙂 You are told not to touch your face, so as soon as I heard that my whole head started to itch. I started to read the first question out loud, and was told I had to sit in silence. I understand all the precautions, and they are fine. It just felt a bit odd. 🙂

So there you have it. Having promised myself I would never certify again, it turns out I’m a liar… 🙂 If you get a chance, give one of the training courses and exams a go. You’ve got nothing to lose. You can read more here.

Cheers

Tim…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

28 thoughts on “Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud 2019 Specialist : My Thoughts”

  1. I take a small test for Autonomous database before I read the materials and watch the videos and I passed the exam with my database and cloud basic knowlege.

  2. There are definitely some questions in the exam you would fail if you’ve not used ADW/ATP, but there are certainly some a basic DBA should know the answer to, or at least be able to deduce by a process of ellimination.

  3. Thanks Tim,
    I think your review is quite correct and balanced.
    Regarding online exam; it is very nice to have the possibility to take the exams from home at any hour you like, since we are mostly WFH and lockdown would in many countries prevent you from reaching a certification center, or an office. Proctors have been very kind to me…

  4. Wait – what? You are not allowed to touch your face? Do they think you’ve pasted answers to your chin and you’re rubbing them off onto your hands? Strange rules, Dr. Tim, for strange times …

  5. I had one proctor ask me to take off my glasses. Which I did. Then put them back on and he told me to take them off. I indicated that I need them for reading (I can manage without them but seriously…). Finally after I stuck them up to the camera and let him look through them, he was satisfied that I could use them. Oh, and my desk space has three monitors, all of which he had me unplug and leave the cords hanging draped over the front. Good times.

  6. I think the biggest problem with the videos is there voices are not clear and the subtitles don’t match what is being said on a number of occasions. Whilst I can understand it, I just find it unprofessional and not a very finessed course when there are loads of bits which say “[inaudible]”. In some of the architect courses, a number of videos have subtitles and a number don’t. Again, unprofessional and unfinished.
    Across the free training materials there were some topics where haven’t kept up with cloud changes – and also some things in the exams which weren’t even covered in training. I took a few (up to professional architect) and thankfully passed them all, but I’d say you need experience over the qualifications (which is always true I guess).
    The actual content of the architect courses was ok (though the professional one does repeat some of the associate material), but the presentation quality of the courses let’s them down. Ok for free, I’d be mad if I’d paid for an OU subscription for them.

  7. John: That’s interesting. Maybe I got lucky and the Autonomous Database training was better than some of the other stuff.

    Glad you passed your exams! 🙂

  8. I am currently watching the videos as I plan and prepare to take the exam on Sunday 3rd May or Monday 4th May. Hope everything goes smooth.

  9. I also did tthree other exams. This was by far the easiest.
    I’ve never used ADW and watching all the vids and doing some practical exercises is a must to pass.

  10. Wholly agree with this review Tim. Like you I thought I would do all 5 and have only got round to the one (ADB). Still a fortnight to go so I might do the Foundations course. Having sat the ADB one yesterday I think experience over course material would be necessary. I can also see now wrt the ADB exam why there is no practice paper – there really isn’t that much to ask!

    Hoping Oracle might keep these free since as a revenue stream it must be a drop in the ocean and as you say, given their position in the market (Zoom not withstanding): hearts and minds and all that.

    Glad I wasn’t the only one who had to cover monitors or remove drinks mats from the desk or close the curtains so no-one could show me the answers on cue-cards like the old TDK advert (can’t even work out the logistics of that). I didn’t get any face-touching reprimands though and I did have to keep blowing in my hands as I’d forgotten to put the heating on.

    Has made me want to look much more into analytic views, so there’s a plus.

  11. I am having trouble booking my order for the exam. My visa cards are not getting approved. I know these exams are supposed to be free, but does it mean I still need to have money on my account before using my visa card for booking a slot? I contacted the pearsonvue online support but they cant do anything. Below is the response I got from them. Did anyone experience this before managing to write their exams?
    ***********************************************************************
    There are some sort of issues going on website while placing the order. For queries on how to schedule the exam for free, you would directly need to check it with Oracle.
    ************************************************************************

  12. Knox: I don’t remember filling in credit card details. The discount code automatically applied making it £0. I’ve certified before, so maybe they have my card on record and I didn’t get prompted though…

  13. What is the difference between 1Z0-931 and 1Z0-931-F, please anyone who can help me please.

  14. Amon: No idea. Maybe the “-F” means free? If you have any questions like this, you should probably ask them of Oracle Education directly.

  15. Hi Tim,
    Please I am unable to book a date between now the mid of May before the free test expires.
    Secondly, I see 150 usd tag on this exam. I am supposes it’s free on pearson vue.
    Please assist me with more information.
    Regards.
    Samuel

  16. Samuel: You need to speak to Pearson View. I can’t assist you. I don’t work for either Oracle or Pearson Vue. Sorry

  17. Hi Tim,

    Were there any hard set questions on configuring GoldenGate?

    I’m dreading taking this exam…

  18. To pass the Oracle Cloud Specialist 2020 Exam, apart from the video training offered by Oracle, should a seasoned on-premise DBA log into the free cloud tier and get some training? If so, is there any specific training material available on the internet somewhere please? I have gone through the videos and find everything easy, understandable and uncomplicated. Except I have not logged into the free tier to play around. I do not mean to sound lazy but I did have a login session which expired after a month and I was asked to create a new email account and access it again that way. I find all these restrictions towards your own group a bit restrictive. Why cannot Oracle provide more time for people to access free services with the same account! Azure has better services when it comes to the free tier. Anyway, wish to know if anyone passed the exam by just watching the videos.

  19. There are some changes in the topics from Autonomous 2019 to the new Autonomous 2020 exam topics.

    Better make sure YOU have gone through 2020 topics solid.

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