As many of you know, I’m not a fan of technical certifications — it seems like they reward people who can regurgitate technical trivia rather than the ones who can actually do the work (but may not be able to recall the canonical port number for LDAP traffic, as a quick example from both a past interview and a past exam). Having said that, last fall Oracle offered to select partners the opportunity to beta test some new certification exams. I signed up for about five and have gotten results back for most of them. So far, I’m three out of four (want to know which ones? Look here).

Here’s the thing: I signed up for two exams where I knew absolutely nothing about the product outside of what I have read on marketing slicks (Exadata and GoldenGate). I have since had the opportunity to do a GoldenGate deployment; still starting at zero with Exadata. I almost passed the GoldenGate one and did pass the Exadata one. So what does that say about the certification exam that I am now certified on a product I’ve never used?

— Update —
And now I’m four for five (although database security is a bit of a gimme for me…)

— Update 2 —
I reached out to Oracle about my Exadata exam result, and this is their response:

The problem arises from the cost and limited availability of Exadata Database Machines. Although most implementation exams require hands-on experience, we could not expect partners to purchase a Database Machine to prepare for the exam, and we don’t even have very many of them for courses and practice in house. This situation was amplified by the fact that many of the key features of Exadata just work – they are not configurable.

Because of this, the decision was made to make the “Implementation” exam for Exadata a detailed technical exam. Someone who understands how the Exadata technology works will be in a good situation to properly use the machine, and this corresponds with the course and test material.