Friday, October 12, 2012

The Oracle Exadata 11g Essentials (1Z0-536)

Mr. Larry Elison said in one of his recent appearance when launching Exadata X3-2, "SAP Hana is kinda small... about 0.5TB small. It is indeed small. Mine is bigger." and something like that, although I can't remember his exact words.

Too bad, Mr. Bill Gates' Microsoft ain't jump on the bandwagon yet on a totally Microsoft based appliance. Microsoft is working with alliance partners like HP or so in current appliance wave.

So what's the big deal about appliance based solution?

Yeah? What's the big deal?

Appliance is not something new. Seriously.

Early days of computing solution actually were appliance-based! Computer engineers assembled a dedicated computing machine using their own proprietary hardware, software, networking devices, storage and components with performance centric mentality to maximize utilization of available resources. Use some marketing catch words from principals like IBM and Oracle: Balanced Configuration.

Then computing components became commoditized, leveraging economic of scale, drastically lower down prices, improve adoption and innovations. Too bad, the commoditization happened individually for each component. Solutioning process nowadays spends a hell of time and efforts to assemble these "unbalanced" components together and it requires a hell of group of specialized people like systems engineer, storage expert, network specialist and so on together to make sure the end result can somehow meet the real customer needs.

Change is inevitable. Complexity sucks.

Appliance based deployment lowers complexity.

Wait! Oracle actually try to differentiate appliance and appliance-like platform. Exadata is actually a appliance-like platform. What it really means is that Exadata provides almost full flexibility in operating the Oracle database software as if it is in a non-Exadata environment. A true appliance is more limited in terms of configuration. Emm, the characteristics of these two kinds are usually overlapping and we shouldn't waste too much time to try to identify the idiosyncrasy of both since they shall eventually converge into single definition.

So, there are Netezza, Exadata, SAP HANA, Greenplum, HP Vertica, SmartAnalytics and the list goes longer with many smaller players in the market. Gartner Magic Quadrant paper should be able to point out few names in this area.

Anyway, enough of the gibberish speech about appliance.

I think appliance is great as it will cut down my time in assembling a BOM for proposals, although sometimes the price tag is hard to fit into the budget unless Oracle or any appliance vendor is kindly to give out GREAT bid price for us.

I took and passed 1Z0-536 The Oracle Exadata 11g Essentials. Scored 84% . To me, 84% is a score that has plenty of rooms for improvements. I would attribute this below-than-my-average score to the lack of literature about Exadata in the circulation. This is an area for enhancement. Oracle, please take note.

My preparation materials basically include OPN learning materials about Exadata under the specialization track, "Achieving Extreme Performance with Oracle Exadata (Oracle Press)" and many whitepapers/articles.

Some major subject areas tested in the examination are IORM, Database Machine specs and best practices. I got ambushed by some questions about ASM attribute and state of the disks. OUCH! No idea at all what the hell they are and I can only count on my common sense. Non-Exadata Oracle specific knowledge would be a great use here.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MCTS 70-178 Microsoft Project 2010, Managing Projects

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Suddenly I became nostalgic.

You know, Microsoft Project is one of some early batch of software that I used during tertiary education time besides the obvious DOS, Windows operating system, VB (Not .NET you young people!) and et cetera.

I remembered times when being instructed to present my project schedules which ended up with printing of few ten pages of "partial" gantt charts and stitched them together using double sided tapes or glues. Guess not easy to be a project manager during those times. :D

Anyway, transition from the yawning old version of Microsoft Project to the state of the art version of 2010 (2013 on its way) is phenomenal. Number of users grow into millions and with some quarter of them with a chartered PMP qualification. Still, more projects failed in this decade than the total of few previous decades added up. Microsoft Project is just a tool, and it really can't help if you don't understand the essential of managing a project.

Anyway, back to the story of 70-178.

You see, to me, this examination is nothing but just a milestome to tell people that I'm more proficient in using this tool than others. Technically, it's not a tough one either. I have passed various other exams, which I personally think at a different playing field than this exam.

So, don't worry too much if you are taking this exam anytime soon.

What you really need to prepare are:

  • Download the trial version/buy the licensed copy of Microsoft Project 2010
  • Use the software alot, and explore various of its features
  • Understand the basics of project management (If you are a PMP, congrats that you are on a faster track to pass this)
  • Read one or more books on Microsoft Project 2010. I scanned through most of them and I think "Microsoft Project" title from Sybex is short and concise (about 400 pages) whereby "Microsoft Project In Depth" from QuantumPM is indeed, in depth (about 1000 pages).
Well, my passing rate of 962/1000 should indicate to you that the preparation materials above are sufficient. Right?

Can't get the damned "Gangnam style" out from my head. Geez.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

COG-622: IBM Cognos 10 BI Administrator

This is a pretty simple test, perhaps due to the simplicity of Cognos 10 BI administration? Not really, I think the exam is out-of-sync to the actual administration needs of Cognos 10. Too many theoretical questions and the test misses the more essential adminitrative aspects and not reflective of a milestone that only a seasoned administrator will achieve. OR, most likely, I'm just too over qualified for it ;-)

My study materials are:

Cognos 10 Hand Book
Cognos 10 Architecture and Deployment Guide
Cognos 10 Installation and Configuration Guide
Cognos 10 Administration and Security Guide
Few VMs to play with

I have also developed a 3 days Cognos 10 Administration Boot Camp training course with tons of learning slides and hands-on labs.

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After I passed my TOGAF foundation two months back and with additional two months of preparation and extensive study of TOGAF 9.0 specification, I finally settled my TOGAF Certified certification.

The exam was a tough one, depending on how you perceive it. It is questionably easy to pass without a thorough understanding of the topics as many exam takers commented that you just need to pick the longest answer or the most TOGAFish answer. However when you really spend time to delve into each of the scenarios' questions and relate it to available answers, it demands serious understanding and application of the knowledge in TOGAF in order to figure out the best possible answer. The open book nature of the examination allows candidate to cross examine their answer, however only useful if only the candidate knows where to find related information in the book efficiently since TOGAF covers lots of topical grounds in the book.

My score was 85% which means for 2 out of the 8 questions, I had chosen the suboptimal answer. Too bad I don't know which one I screwed up. Too bad.

This is just the start of a wonderful journey with TOGAF certified title. Well done!

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TOGAF Foundation

A long awaited first architect level certification of mine, though foundational level, serves as a catalyst to boost value for my employer and clients. It is not a tough paper to pass, comparing to its Part 2 brother. I listed the materials that I used for examination preparation below:

  • TOGAF Version 9.0 documentation (Optional but recommended, especially if you are like me going for Part 2 soon)

  • TOGAF 9.0 Foundation Study Guide (Sufficient to pass part 1 but hardly flying color)

  • Misc. TOGAF 9.0 Summary documents (For understanding only)

  • Few years of architecting experiences (Optional but useful for really understand TOGAF values)

My score was 93% which is aligned with my usual passing standard. I think preparation works for Part 2 would be more interesting because it requires drilling deep into in-and-out of TOGAF 9 specification. Sounds fun!

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