Plan your upgrade now and “Carpa Indicii”

by Gary Gordhamer, Managing Principal Consultant at Viscosity North America


The year is 2020 and things are very turbulent. Not only from a social and economic standpoint but also from a technical standpoint. Specifically, we are talking about Oracle database and reaching the end of a decade for the 11g version. came out about 2010 or late 2009 (depending on your platform). patch set was first released in 2013 (again depending on your platform). Free extended support ended in 2018. Very much like was widely adapted and used, customers have found to be very stable for a long time. This has allowed businesses to focus on application rollouts, or business priorities and not tackle the larger task of major database upgrades. Even though the non-technical environment may not be the friendliest right now, unfortunately database upgrades just cannot wait any more.

You might say, well I’m on 12.1 which was released approximate in 2013 and free extended support ended in 2019. That’s just barely a better state than 11g by less than a year.

I see three compelling reasons for upgrade:

Cost of support
First, financially Oracle has already increased support fees if you want to gain fixes or patches for 11g or 12cR1. That cost could be spent keeping your environment up to date, or the cost could be spent on paying Oracle. Of which, Oracle will not provide value addition on that old version other than security fixes, and not even all of those.

Cost can also be lost opportunity. What could your teams be using in the new features? What if instead of fighting constant fires on poor performing out-of-date hardware or the same old limitations of the old software, you were using the newest features? So, when you think “cost”, think of all the things you are giving up, which includes the bottom financial line as well.

This is a very broad category, but I’m going to keep it close to just a small area: Risk of losing your main system. This could be due to a security breach, this could be due to a hardware issue and not being able to get replacement parts, or it could be due to hitting a software issue that is not fixable in the current environment. All of these risks go down by keeping somewhat up to date.

Having software up to date helps reduce the risk of security breaches or hitting unrecoverable bugs. Having hardware that is current means performing well and can be maintained. Keeping both hardware and software current means having access to teams and talent that know what they are doing.

I worked with a customer a few years back trying to get help on an 8.1 Oracle database and had three different firms refuse to even talk to them. A product not even 20 years old, and nobody would touch it. I have also frequently worked on production systems where the only source for broken hardware is eBay. Do you want to bet your company’s future on used parts off of eBay? Where will you be in a few years?

If not now, then when? There are very few systems I have worked on where an upgrade did not take well over a year to do. Why? Well it starts with the idea, the call-to-action. “The database needs to be upgraded”. That’s great, but now what? Generally, you need to get approval, which means putting plans together. Budgeting financial resources, getting teams lined up, and possibly reaching out for external help. That takes time.

Then you need to make sure the teams are ready. Have they learned what they need to know to do the upgrade? How will they learn this? How long will it take? Finally, the process of actually doing the upgrades can begin, starting in lower environments and moving through the IT lifecycle until finally reaching production. All of this generally takes at least a year from conception to actualization, if not longer.

So, what if you start now? What does 2021 or 2022 look like? If you don’t start now, are we discussing 2022 and 2023 for upgrades? What will be the climate of business and social economics be then? I bet looking back you thought 2018 was a tough year, maybe not so much anymore?

I say “carpe indicii” translates to seize the information, but I like to say seize the data!

Start your upgrade plans now, make it a priority. Spend the time needed to get your teams up to date. Pull together the plan and funding needed, and know where you are headed and why. Change is hard, but fear of change is worse than the change itself. Tens of thousands of systems upgraded from 8i to 10g and again to 11g and some even to 12c. It is all possible, and it all works, given the right effort and attention to detail. If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t have the internet, large digital companies like Amazon, or Zoom meetings. Things are not perfect, but progress is inevitable, and we must keep moving forward.

Oracle 19c is under the covers. Consider it your next long term version. You will probably be running it for the next 4+ years. Possibly long after the system you upgrade is someone else’s responsibility.

In my next couple of blog posts we will cover options for upgrading to 19c and some of the important testing and upgrade factors to maintain performance.

"I say 'carpe indicii' translates to seize the information, but I like to say seize the data!"

"The year is 2020 and things are very turbulent. Not only from a social and economic standpoint but also from a technical standpoint."


About the author:

Gary Gordhamer

Gary Gordhamer

Principal Consultant and Oracle ACE Associate

Gary Gordhamer has spent much of his career focusing on enterprise application landscape and business process digitization.   His technical experiences range from Oracle e-Business suite, middleware, database and related technologies for the past 27 years.  His professional background covers many industries including healthcare, manufacturing, utilities, and government.   He is an active member of the QUEST IOUG Database & Technology Community, serving on the advisory board.  Gary is an Oracle ACE associate, and frequent presenter at Oracle OpenWorld and COLLABORATE.