Tuesday, May 27, 2008

End of the "Road to Datastage certification" :D

I feel very happy at the end of my journey :D (So, unfortunate that there are no emoticons in blogger ;) ). I finally("finally", because I have been planning to take this for a long time now) cleared my Datastage Certification. There are a few things which give you the joy comparable to getting your certification. I want to thank my friends Ajay Prakash and SubhaKarthik for giving me the moral support for this certification.

I had blogged (Road to Datastage Certification) about how all this certification stuff started. I had planned to take the certification on 26th of this month. I applied for a leave on this day, to buy myself time to read the documentation for my certification. Booked the test at 5:30 PM in the evening by taking a cue from Vincent's experience with the exam. I started the day well by getting up at 6:30 AM and jogging for some distance. I was preparing happily when this guy from the prometric center calls me up at around 2:00 PM and says that I won't be able to take my certification because of some problem with their server (From when did Prometric centers start having servers of their own :?, I thought it might have been a problem with their internet connection). He asked me to call him up before I started to the exam center, in case the server issue gets fixed. I was very disappointed on hearing this, as I was highly pumped up to take the exam. Anyway, I kept reading the documentation, and trying out things on my VM. At around 5:10 PM I called up that guy, and got a happy reply from him saying that the server was up. I quickly went through the important notes I had jotted down during preparation (No matter how much preparation you do, you will never be "satisfied" with your preparation ;) ). I got on my bicycle in my tracks and a T-shirt and got off to the certification center. I reached the center by 5:25 PM (It's about 250 yards from my home) and, by the time I got in front of the computer to take the test, it was 5:38 PM. I finished the exam in about an hour and reviewed all the answers in the next 15 minutes(finished 30 minutes before the end time). I clicked on the End button with my adrenaline on an all time high!! I was on Cloud number "99" when I saw that I passed the exam with a good score. I thank God for this, and happily come out of the exam

As for the exam, It was a moderately tough exam, It had 79 questions most of which had multiple answers. There were also a few questions which ask you to drag and drop the right boxes in the options given (I was impressed ;) ). In all, if you prepare well and have some good experience in developing Parallel jobs, debugging jobs and administering Datastage, the exam shouldn't be very difficult. If you don't do all that, don't panic, go through the documentation which comes with the Datastage client, that should help you out with things you don't do.

This was the split up of questions in the exam:

Section/Category Number of Items
  1. Installation and Configuration 6 out of 79
  2. Metadata 4 out of 79
  3. Persistent storage 10 out of 79
  4. ParallelArchitecture 10 out of 79
  5. Databases 9 out of 79
  6. Data Transformation 11 out of 79
  7. Combining and Sorting Data 8 out of 79
  8. Automation and Production Deployment 7 out of 79
  9. Monitor and Troubleshoot 7 out of 79
  10. Job Design 7 out of 79
  1. Go through the installation and configuration guide, Especially the configuration on a Unix machine and the configuration of Enterprise Edition on USS. There were a few questions about the Unix Kernel settings, so don't ignore them.
  2. Metadata would be an easy section, Read about different types of datatypes in Datastage, ways to import metadata. Also know about different OSH datatypes.
  3. Persistent Storage is a section which asks questions about Datasets and Filesets. This should be another easy section if you have played around with Datasets. Know how data is stored in these two files
  4. Parallel Architecture is a huge thing and you should read the Parallel job developer's guide and the Parallel job Advanced developer's guide to score in this section. There was a question about conductor nodes, section leaders and players, which was taken straight out of the Parallel job developer's guide.
  5. This is one section which consumed a lot of my time for preparation, I have just used Oracle as the database in my Datastage jobs. But this is not enough, you are supposed to know "everything" about Oracle, DB2 and Teradata (These were the only databases on which I got questions). Read through the complete documentation for these stages, and don't forget the environment variables which effect these stages.
  6. Data Transformation is an easy stage if you have created even a few jobs in Datastage Parallel edition, This should be the section with which you are most familiar. Questions in this section can be answered with a little preparation.
  7. This section has a lot of questions about the sort stage, join, merge, lookup and aggregator stages. Make sure that you know all the environment variables which effect the performance of these stages. Also go through the differences between similar stages (such as the differences between Merge and Lookup).
  8. This is an interesting section which covers Job Sequences (which are not documented in the Parallel Job Developer's guide!!) and stuff about the command line interface to Datastage. Know all the things possible with the use of "dsjob" and similar commands.
  9. This section had a lot of show and tell questions. It had a question which had an exhibit of a job log and asked us to pick up the log which has the OSH code. For this section go through all the Environment variables present in the Reporting category and know how each variable effects the job log.
  10. The last section (Am I happy :D) , It has questions in which you are asked to optimize the design of a job.

On a scale of 1-10 for toughness, I would say that this test stands at 8.5 (I love fractions ;) ). It is tough in that it tests the breadth of your knowledge in Datastage.

I was a guy who didn't belive in certifications, I was of the idea that no certification can measure your actual skill on a Tool, because with enough time and with "NO" practical experience, you can get a pretty decent score in any certification. I guess I was wrong, These are a few benefits I didn't know about a Certification:
  • You get a LOT OF CONFIDENCE when you are certified, it gives you a benchmark against which you can compare yourself with the rest of the guys.
  • More importantly, it fills a lot of gaps in your knowledge. I can't really list out the technical stuff I learnt during the preparation for my certification. This makes you a better developer however good you currently are.
  • It is a humbling experience (It was for me!). You get to see the things which you don't know, It's like a reality check which is good to have. And it opens up possibilities for your jobs, You connect to the inquisitive child within you during the preparation.
  • It gives you a very good break from the routine stuff which you do every day.
  • Finally, it may get you a better job :D
If these things don't motivate you enough, then you got some serious problems ;)
I would encourage people to take certifications (doesn't matter which certification you take). Now, I will stop my lecture about certifications and put down a few useful resources which helped me with my certification.

Resources I used:
Please leave comments if you find this post helpful, or if this post "helped" you in wasting time ;)
That is all I have for now, Whew! Blogging is no easy thing!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Congratulations.. I am very happy for you on completing your certification.
I will also be applying for the same next month. Thank you for the useful tips...

Bye

Minhajuddin said...

Wow, Comments make me feel very happy :D

Anonymous said...

very useful post...thanks dear :-)

ORION said...

Hi,

Congratulations..

And the way you posted is also very nice..

Keep rocking.... ALL THE VERY BEST

Ray said...

Found this post via Google, great stuff! It's given me an insight of what I need to study for (instead of reading the PDFs from cover to cover!)

Thanks and congrats!

Anonymous said...

very useful post.. am planning to take certification next month..

RajeshSamuel said...

Hey buddy.. Am hunting for a DataStage Certification Prep book in Chennai? Google or amazon hasn't spotted any books in this regard. So just skeptical. Any advices?? Thanks.

Avinandan said...

Hi Minhajuddin,

Thanks for posting this.

I want to know about the future of certification of IBM Data Stage ETL tool. Will you like to tell me about the current fees required to be certified? How much preparation is required for this?

Avinandan said...

Hi Minhajuddin,

Thanks for posting this.

I want to know about the future of certification of IBM Data Stage ETL tool. Will you like to tell me about the current fees required for certification? How much preparation is required for this?

Rajesh A said...

Awesome dude!!!!

Great work...I would really appreciate it... :)

Thanks Alot.

Anonymous said...

Just popping in to say nice site.

jessica said...

great blog keep on writing more info about datastage