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Ten reasons to do an Oracle database upgrade

For every excuse made not to upgrade an Oracle database, there are overriding reasons to do so. Here are the top reasons organizations should move up to Oracle Database 12c.

All too often, I see companies still running older Oracle database versions in their enterprise applications.

The database administrators (DBAs) often argue that everything runs fine, and that an Oracle database upgrade risks breaking things. Other times, I hear DBAs say that their application vendor doesn't support an updated version of Oracle in its software, or that database upgrades are too time-consuming.

However, despite these objections, there are many reasons to go ahead with an Oracle database upgrade. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider it.

Support. If you pay for an Oracle support contract, only Oracle 12.1.0.2, the latest version of Oracle Database 12c currently available for on-premises use, is covered under Premier Support. (Oracle 12c Release 2, or 12.2, became available last fall, but only in the Oracle Cloud for the time being.) Oracle is also offering free Extended Support for Oracle 11.2.0.4 until May 31. After that, though, your company will have to pay additional fees to continue 11.2.0.4 Extended Support. And if your company isn't on either version, you'll likely be asked to upgrade before receiving any assistance from Oracle's support team.

Updated hardware and operating systems. Recently, I received a question from an individual on Oracle 8.0.5 who asked how to install it on Windows Server 2012. But older Oracle versions aren't supported or certified on newer operating systems. If you want to keep up with whatever platform changes your server team has planned, you should keep up with Oracle upgrades.

Security patches. IT pros are well aware of the numerous data breaches that can cost companies millions of dollars or even put them out of business entirely. Oracle only provides regularly released security patches for Oracle Database 11.2.0.4 and 12.1.0.2. If you don't run one of those versions, you're putting your company at risk.

Reduced labor. Each new Oracle version contains a host of new features, many of which save you time. Some people fear these features are meant to put an end to the DBA's career. But, in reality, they can free you up to do other things.

Features such as automated undo management, automated memory management and Unified Auditing are all designed to free up the DBA's time spent micromanaging these areas. Enhancements to Advisor Central enable you to use many more advisors that will automatically diagnose trouble areas and make recommendations.

Marketplace relevance. It's tough to keep up with your business competitors if your IT systems aren't up to date. In-memory data stores and database sharding, the latter an addition to Oracle 12.2, are some of the features available only in Oracle 12c that can be leveraged to provide the best database functionality for your company's operations. You can bet your competitors are upgrading to take advantage of these, as well as other new features.

Easier future upgrades. The easiest way to upgrade an Oracle database is to use the Oracle Database Upgrade Assistant (DBUA). The DBUA automates the upgrade process and handles the bulk of the work. However, you can only upgrade to Oracle 12.1.0.2 with the DBUA if your current version is 10.2.0.5, 11.1.0.7, 11.2.0.2 or later. If you don't keep current, you'll need to do multiple upgrades or use a different upgrade method, which is often riskier.

Data protection. The cardinal sin a DBA can make is to lose data. Last month's database backup works if you don't mind losing all of the transactions since it was done.

Oracle's Data Guard software protects that data by sending transactions to an off-site location. The Far Sync feature, added as part of an Active Data Guard implementation for Oracle Database 12c, makes it possible to implement zero data loss protections with minimal impact on the primary database.

Database consolidation. You can reduce the servers needed in your data center by implementing Oracle Database 12c's Multitenant Architecture, which lets you plug multiple databases into a single container on one system. Fewer servers means big cost savings in hardware, as well as in labor to support those servers.

Cloud migration. Oracle's cloud platform makes it easy for your database infrastructure to be flexible enough to meet your company's changing IT needs. With a few clicks in SQL Developer, you can migrate an Oracle 12c database to the cloud -- and back to an on-premises system again if you change your mind later on.

Application vendor support. While some application vendors are stuck in the database past, many keep current. If you want to continue to run those applications, you must keep up, as well. Vendors that use Oracle as the database for their applications should be on 11.2.0.4 at a minimum by now -- and you should be, too.

Hopefully this list has provided you with ample reason to begin planning your Oracle database upgrade. To avoid additional support fees or a lack of technical support, all Oracle databases should be upgraded to 12c by the end of May -- so don't delay. 

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This was last published in January 2017

Dig Deeper on Oracle database installation, upgrades and patches

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