Thursday, April 02, 2009

If Oracle were an MMO, what skills would you be trained in?

Been thinking a lot about certification and skill assement lately. Had some excellent correspondence with Dan Norris, commented on Paul Sorensen's article, and talked with a new acquatance who is pursuing research on a Skills Management White paper. Dan Norris also hooked me up with Dan Morgan, who has been chewing on a new way to do certification that closely follows what the Medical Board does. All the while I am teaching a class that is supposed to prep the students for Oracle Certification (OCA, possibly OCP for those that can hack it), and really disliking the book.

Then in my free time, Stefan Knecht has re-introduced me to EVE Online (ummm... thanks? *grin*). EVE has a very cool, but very slow, skill training system. I am sure most folks would probably be familiar, in concept at least, with games like Blizzard's Warcraft that give "experience points" to characters for doing certain things. In EVE, you basically just pick a book and x hours later, you know that skill. A little strange, perhaps. But the cool thing (IMO) is the tech tree is based on the skill set, with a very thoughtful dependency relationship and considerable time investment for more advanced skills.

So... what happens when you smash these things together? What if you had some kind of classification like "Standard DBA Level 3", and, by definition, there were a set of prerequisite skills that the owner of said classification would have demonstrated proficiency in. Perhaps such granular classification does not make a perfect analogy in the game world, but still my mind is chewing on it. Perhaps being "certified" in every single skill a "standard" DBA does is not only impractical but unwieldly. But surely there would be a way to have some sort of dependancy tree. Almost anything is better than Oracle University's current system. =)

As I dwell on this topic, I have been thinking about what those skills might be. For instance, there are obviously broad categories like "Backup & Recovery", "Performance Tuning", "High Availability". Each of these could be further divided into component pieces; at some point, you get down to atomic skills. What are those atomic skills? There is obviously a similarity to the Mercer Salary Survey as well. Perhaps that is the closest thing I kind find in the IT world that attempts to do something like this. I am sure there are other efforts.

Another way this does fit with the game analogy is that it would not be feasibly for a person to attempt to specialize in everything (kinda counter-intuitive, anyway). As with EVE, you choose a career-path and pursue it (invest time). DBAs, or any professional career for that matter, are like this - start with something fundamental and then build on it in one direction or another.


Stefan Knecht said...

Hey Charles... I actually quite like that idea.
Just like for instance, to be able to use some advanced electronic warfare tool in EVE, you need to become proficient in electronis, engineering (as basic), and weapon handling (as the more advanced prerequisites). Things like this can be seen similarly in the Oracle world. An operational DBA for example, needs a wholly different set of skills than i.e. an engineering DBA or an application DBA would.

Though I can imagine the effort needed to put something like this into the real world would be quite overwhelming, and needs loads and loads of courses from holly different subjects. Tricky to say the least :)


Charles Schultz said...

I am sure someone has already put a bit of effort into it; hard to believe that after all these years, I am coming up with something new. *grin*

In addition to Mercer, Labor Unions and I believe Gartner already classify workers in several levels of skill. Heck, even my local Walmart has a poster showing what the auto mechanics can and can not do.

This should be an interesting discussion. =)

Charles Schultz said...

The idea might be catching on:,employers-look-to-gaming-to-motivate-staff.aspx