Patching is part of routine maintenance in Oracle E-Business Suite 11i. Unfortunately, the likelihood that a patch will work the first time is slim-to-none. At the recent OracleWorld conference, Ric Ginsberg, Oracle's vice president of application release engineering, offered attendees 11i enhancement and patching strategies.
Best practice #1: Stay current
"Keep up with the latest AD [Applications Database Administration Utilities] code," Ginsberg said. This includes staying as current as possible on AD patch sets, specifically Family Pack AD.H, and scheduling periodic maintenance downtime to apply patches.
In addition, Ginsberg encouraged users to upgrade to 11.5.9 as soon as possible. Also, users should perform "uptime" maintenance for gathering schema stats and applying translation database updates.
Best practice #2: Use staged APPL_TOP and distributed AD
By applying patches to a staged APPL_TOP prior to downtime, you can then easily copy the patched APPL_TOP from the stage to the production area, Ginsberg said.
Distributed AD solves the problem of idle servers: "Many of our customers are working with multiple application, middle-tier servers. When applying a patch, [they're] using the administrator node while other middle-tier notes sit idle," Ginsberg said. "With distributed AD, you can use all available horsepower when applying patches."
Ginsberg also recommends combining patches with AD Merge Patch and using AutoExtend to avoid extent allocation errors, which could result in failures due to "unable to extend" issues.
Best practice #3: Upgrade to most recent versions
Whether users will move immediately to 11.5.9 depends on various factors. They may be awaiting additional enhancements, or they may simply have a general lack of upgrade urgency.
Paul Gildbride, of Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Inc., said he wants his company to realize the new enhancements in 11.5.9, and he will eventually move to the new version from 10.7. But, he said, "We will not be moving to Linux." Oracle has pushed Linux adoption in conjunction with 11i upgrades.
Ginsberg outlined the Linux Migration Utility in 11i, which allows you to move to Linux quickly (in approximately eight hours) and easily (in approximately nine steps). It works by migrating your middle tier to Linux, which often can be done while systems are up and running. It retains current patch level and customer actions, upgrades tech stack and can be done at any 11i level, he said.
Another user, James Dye, who works for Beneficial Life Insurance Company in Salt Lake City, implemented 11.5.7 last year. He is satisfied with his current implementation, but he offered suggestions for improvements Oracle could made. "I'd like to see the ability to go do a fresh install of a current release and have data ported automatically to it, " he said. "You'd set up a new environment, pump data to it and go live. A lot of these projects include new hardware; you might as well do that, too."
With the release of version 11.5.7, the error-prone Oracle Universal Installer (OUI) and ORCA-based install were replaced with a Zip-based install. As a result, the installation process now has a single progress meter and information area, and it only takes one hour. Also, in Rapid Install, the "techstack" option enables you to upgrade only the tech stack.
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