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Connectivity between 11g and 8i has never been certified or supported.
See this note in My Oracle Support for further information and details -
Client / Server / Interoperability Support Between Different Oracle Versions (Doc ID 207303.1)
If you have any further questions about it then it would be better to open a new thread in the SQLPLUS forum -
SQL and PL/SQL
This forum is for connectivity and migration issues between Oracle and non-Oracle databases.
Thanks for the reply, I will definitely take a look at the article. I posted here because I am trying to migrate the Oracle 8i DB to SQL Server using SSMA (mentioned above). SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) relies on the Oracle Client for connectivity so I was testing connectivity with sql plus concurrently. Both fail with the same error: ORA-12505 (TNS:listener does not currently know of SID given in connect descriptor.
If that is the error then they should be able to help you in the SQLPLUS forum but it may be because the connection is not certified.