Studying and passing the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Foundations 2020 exam

A few pointers on my first Oracle Cloud certification

Discovering Oracle by studying for Azure

At any given point, I’m usually studying for a technical certification (or re-certification). I had some AWS certifications due for renewal in April 2020, but given the current COVID-19 lockdown, AWS kindly added 6 months to their validity, which meant the time pressure was off.

I’ve been working with Azure more and more over the past couple of years, so I had switched gears to studying for the AZ-300: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies exam before it changes on 2 June 2020 and is retired later in the year. Although I’ve worked with Azure on a daily basis for several years, when preparing for a certification I like the reassurance of following a structured course.

Scott Duffy’s AZ-300 Azure Architecture Technologies Exam Prep 2020 course on Udemy is good, and he keeps it updated (I think I purchased it in late 2016 for the precursor of the exam, the 70-534). In an early video, “What’s So Great About Cloud Computing?", he quotes the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report. His emphasis is that Azure is a close second behind AWS. However, at number 6 of 7 in the list of “currently used by enterprises”, we see:

  • Oracle Cloud - 16% (up 6%)

To access the 2020 report, you’re requested to hand over various information and agree “to receive additional communications from Flexera”, but they helpfully make some of the charts are available as teasers and we can see that, ordering by the 2020 figures, Oracle have now jumped from 6th to 4th (leapfrogging VMWareCloud on AWS and IBM Cloud), and at 20% usage in 2020, are where GCP was in 2019:

Cloud20202019
AWS76%67%
Azure69%60%
Google Cloud34%20%
Oracle Cloud20%16%
VMWareCloud on AWS19%18%
IBM Cloud15%18%
Alibaba Cloud7%4%

When I saw the figures, my first thought was “Oracle has a cloud?", and my second was, “and it’s just behind GCP in terms of usage?".

Free Oracle training and certifications

A few weeks ago I was interested to see a blog from 30 March 2020 entry entitled, “Oracle Ramps Up Free Online Learning and Certifications for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Oracle Autonomous Database". Not just free training, but free certifications. A little checking and I confirmed that the exams were remotely proctored, but only available until 15 May 2020. The FAQs from 14 April 2020 give more details on the procedure for signing up for them (accounts with Oracle Learning, and Pearson Vue).

Studying for the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Foundations 2020 Associate (exam 1Z0-1085-20)

I took my first cloud certifications before the arrival of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, or AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, so was interested to study for a certification suited for a wider audience than hands-on technical roles.

The exam outline for 1Z0-1085-20 is at a much more summarised level than say Exam AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals – Skills Measured, so I was reassured that the Understand OCI Foundations learning path was available.

I watched all the videos, and I have to say I was impressed with the Oracle training system - synchronised transcriptions of all the videos, which mean that if you’re skimming for information, you can read ahead, and jump to the relevant point in the video, knowing that you haven’t skipped over some crucial point. The training covers all the core services in OCI, and the many advantages of public clouds. The style is very reminiscent of classroom training - slide after slide, with the instructor emphasising points by writing over the top of the slide.

After watching the training, I took the practice exam, which gives you 30 minutes to complete (rather than the exam’s 115), with 20 practice questions (versus 60 in my exam). I passed with 80%, and was sufficiently encouraged to book the exam.

I like to approach a subject from multiple angles, so while it’s free, also started watching the learning path for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Architect Associate.

The following two books were great, even moreso because there was no additional cost to reading them (I subscribe to O’Reilly’s Safari). They are more relevant to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Cloud Operations Associate and the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Architect Associate, but really well-written:

Note that I didn’t sign up for my 30-day free trial of Oracle Cloud, as I want to maximise that for when I have time available, so passed the exam without ever having logged in to Oracle Cloud on the console.

Remote proctoring

For remotely-proctored exams, there are strict policies regarding having a quiet environment. Given that my children aren’t currently going to school, I thought that I’d best schedule it for when they were asleep, so scheduled it for 9:15 in the evening.

  • Identity requirements - I used passport and driving licence.
  • Webcam - although my laptop has a built in webcam, I found it most useful to use my external webcam as there’s a requirement to take photos in four directions around your desk.
  • I’m used to using an external monitor, but this is not allowed in the exam, so I sat the exam in a different room, with just a laptop and webcam.

The exam itself

Obviously I can’t give specifics as to the questions which were on the actual exams, but here were the things I was glad of:

  • studying the material for this certification
  • taking the practice exam
  • studying some of the material for more advanced certifications, so I’d at least seen the Oracle Console, and some of the key screens new users rely on.

Exam results

Unusually, the exam results weren’t instantly displayed on screen, but available within 30 minutes (I received an email around 12 minutes after completing the exam). Log in to https://certview.oracle.com/, where you’ll link the Oracle Testing ID from Pearson Vue with your Oracle ID.

I did pass with 92% (against a passing score of 68%), so that was pleasing.

As this was the only exam required to earn the certification, “Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Foundations 2020 Certified Associate”, after a day, that was visible in CertView, with the option to download a PDF certificate, claim badges through Acclaim, download a logo, and share your results with e.g. a potential employer by choosing “Publish Credentials”.

Summary

It was a fair exam, with interesting content. If you already have some experience on a public cloud, and can find 5-6 hours in the next two weeks, you may be able to sign up for and pass the exam by 15 May 2020.

Notes

This content was first published on my blog, but also as a LinkedIn article