Why DB2 Certification is Cool

You may have noticed that I’m down to one new post a week at this point. I have two big excuses. The first is that I had a big go-live last week that required the movement of user data from one WebSphere Commerce database to another on a more recent version of Commerce, a more recent version of DB2(8.2 to 9.7), and a different operating system (AIX to Linux). That was actually one of the more complicated changes I’ve done in a while, and it required over 50 hours of my time alone testing to get right. Also, I’m getting ready for the 2012 IDUG NA Tech Conference on May 14-18, where I plan to up my certifications from 9 to 9.7.

Sometimes it seems that certifications are only pieces of paper that HR and Recruiters pay attention to. And you really can pass some of the certification tests with very little real-world experience. If you do so, they really are barely worth the paper they’re written on. If you’ve been in the field very long, you’ve encountered a paper DBA who knows all the answers on paper, but isn’t all that good at troubleshooting or actually working with DB2. Certification alone may not mean all that much.

But for someone who does work with the product I find a strange value in certification beyond getting the attention of Recruiters and mildly looking good on year end performance review. What certifications do for me is they force me to learn things outside of the rut that I usually work in. As I’m reading/preparing, I come up with a dozen questions that lead me in different directions and lead me to re-think some of the fundamentals of how I’m currently doing support. Just a few examples from this morning include:

  1. DAS is deprecated – didn’t know this, but sounds good to me. I never use the thing, but always create it because some of the clients I build systems for will want to use it.
  2. May want to reconsider the use of automatic runstats – only for use between my weekly full runstats. With statistics profiles, it could be mildly useful. Note to self not to use real-time stats if I do, though – they sound like a bad idea for OLTP databases. Still couldn’t use them alone due to the lack of rbind and the inability to control order with respect to weekly reorgchk and reorgs.
  3. Administrative task scheduler sounds interesting. May want to consider it for running my hourly snapshots. Should I re-write my scripts to use stored procedures more?
  4. Restrict option on the create database command – interesting. I generally revoke at least some of PUBLIC’s permissions on database creation. Hmmm
  5. Table Partitioning – how could I use that to make deleting data in WebSphere Commerce databases faster?

Most of those have led me to research beyond the study notes I’m working from (DB2 9.7 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows Database Administration: Certification Study Notes). And all are broadening my horizons. Even if I don’t take any direct action, they start me thinking in different directions, which to me is always a positive. Even though I’ll learn a ton of stuff at the conference and through sources like the DB2Night Show, they allow me to focus on my areas of interest – which may be good, but also sometimes allows me to stay in my rut. Once I get to the Advanced DBA Certification prep, that becomes even more true as I study topics like federation and more detailed partitioning (DPF, Range, and MDC) that I rarely touch on in my day-to-day work.

I know that renewing my certifications is not going to get me a promotion or a raise, and I’m not planning on switching jobs soon, so it’s not to impress recruiters, but it takes me even farther to thinking about how I’m doing things and other ways I could be doing them.

On a side note, can someone please start writing study notes for the Advanced Database Administrator certification test?

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