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Should you Upgrade to Oracle Database 19c?

Why would you consider upgrading your Oracle database to 19c ? This post introduces several reasons why we think that organizations in the markets we serve being Australia, New Zealand (NZ), Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji should upgrade to the 19c Oracle database.

Firstly, there are new features you may want to investigate and utilise and we highlight some of these that we think our customers could benefit from. Second, we explain that Oracle is ending support on all releases lower than 19c and has moved to a new Long-Term Release Model and what this means for you. Third, there are some other important factors to consider like: sizing, pluggable databases, operating system compatibility, and security. We finish with an overview of the upgrade choices that are available.

New Features available in Oracle Database 19c

There are many new features available in 19c. We have reviewed the full list of these and highlighted some that we think both our Government and Commercial customers could benefit from using. There are good new features in both the Standard and Enterprise Editions of the database that are worth investigating.

Standard Edition Database (SE2):

  • Standard Edition High Availability - The Standard Edition High Availability feature provides cluster-based failover for Standard Edition 2 databases utilizing Oracle Clusterware;

  • Spatial & Graph. As of 19c the functionality of Spatial & Graph is available at no extra cost, this applies to both Standard Edition & Enterprise Edition databases;

  • As of 19c, both Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition databases can have up to 3 pluggable databases in addition to the root database container without incurring a Multi-Tenancy license; or

  • Advanced Analytics. This option is also referred to as Oracle Machine Learning, this allows you to perform data mining and big analytics functions within the database rather than external to the database which increases your capability to scale with large data sets as there is no movement of data out of the database and therefore decreases the load requirements of application servers.

Enterprise Edition Database:

  • Privilege Analysis. This runs dynamic analysis of users and applications to find privileges and roles that are used and unused. Privilege analysis reduces the work to implement least privilege best practices by showing you exactly what privileges are used and not used by each account. Privilege analysis is highly performant and is designed to work in test, development, and production development databases;

  • Passwords Removed from Oracle Database Accounts - the benefit of this feature is that administrators no longer must periodically rotate the passwords for these Oracle Database provided schemas. This feature also reduces the security risk of attackers using default passwords to hack into these accounts; or

  • Automatic indexing - analyses the application workload every 15 minutes and automatically creates, drop and rebuilds unusable B-tree indexes in a database based on the changes in application workload.

Long Term Support/Release Model (LTS)

If you don’t find the above features very enticing, you may be reluctantly drawn to the fact that you may have no choice but to upgrade to remain on a supported version of the database. Oracle is applying a ‘Long Term Support’ (LTS) model across some of its products, first was Java, and now the database has adopted this popular concept.

19c is the current LTS release (referred to as a ‘Long Term Release’) for the database whereas 18C and 20C are designated an ‘Innovation Release’ status. The below table has been copied from an official Oracle page at https://support.oracle.com/knowledge/Oracle Database Products/742060_1.html

Note that the above table has references to ULA’s (Unlimited License Agreements), Market Driven Support, Cloud Service databases, Exadata edition databases and other Engineered System exceptions have been removed for the sake of simplicity. You can view the full table at the before-mentioned link.

This is what Oracle has to say about Long Term Releases and Innovation Releases:

Long Term Release: Oracle Database Long Term Releases are ideal for use cases that benefit from less frequent upgrades to newer releases. Long Term Releases offer the highest level of stability and the longest length of error correction support. These releases have 5 years of Premier Support followed by 3 years of Extended Support. When combined with Extended Support, customers typically have almost 4 years to upgrade from one Long Term Release to the next Long Term Release.

Innovation Release: In between Oracle Database Long Term Releases, Oracle delivers Oracle Database Innovation Releases that include many enhancements and new capabilities which will also be included in the next Long Term Release. Innovation Releases are designed to enable customers to continuously use leading-edge technologies to rapidly develop or deploy new applications or augment existing applications. Support for Innovation Releases includes 2 years of Premier Support, but there is no Extended Support. Production workloads can be deployed on Innovation Releases if upgrading within 2 years to a newer release is factored into the deployment plan.

LTS – A New Upgrade Approach

The intention of LTS is to have LTS releases overlap so that customers may upgrade from a supported LTS release to the next supported LTS release whilst skipping all the ‘Innovation Releases’. As stated in Oracle’s explanations above, there should be approximately a 1 year overlap of Premier Support for an LTS with the next LTS and 3 years of Extended Support for an LTS whilst the next LTS will be on Premier Support. With releases being annual from Oracle, we can represent this approach with the below diagram:

The above diagram shows the ‘Premier Support’ period for each database release, and every 4 years you will be able to upgrade from a LTS release to the next LTS release and avoid the ‘Extended Support’ fees of an additional 20% per year that Oracle started enforcing in 2020.

Other Factors

Sizing

Our experience from upgrading client systems to 19c is that there is no significant difference in the size of the binaries, and there is only a small increase in the database size if you upgrade to the Pluggable Database Architecture.

Pluggable Databases

19c does not force you to upgrade into a Pluggable Database Architecture, however it is likely to be the last LTS release that allows this. Therefore, you should consider this being the release to move to Pluggable Databases, and with the allowance of 3 PDAs per root installation without additional multi-tenancy license cost, it is worth considering.

Operating System Compatibility

The most popular operating system flavours (Windows, Red Hat, SuSE & Oracle Linux) have the following certifications for 19c:

  • Windows 8.1, 10 and Windows 2012 R2 through to Windows 2019

  • Red Hat 7 & 8

  • SuSE SLES 11 & 15

  • Oracle Linux 7 & 8

Therefore if you have Windows 2008 or Red Hat / Oracle Linux 5 or 6, then 19c is not certified by Oracle for these releases and you will need to consider upgrading the underlying operating system or migrating to a new platform.

Security

Security threats have never been greater, and security is becoming one of the most important drivers for remaining current with vendor supported versions. You seldom hear Senior Management or the Board discussing database features, but they will discuss use of unsupported software and the negative ramifications.

Upgrade Choices

There are two major choices for upgrading to 19c:

  1. Perform an ‘in-place’ upgrade by running Oracle’s upgrade programs

  2. Use Oracle Data Pump to export from your current database and import into a freshly installed 19c using Datapump’s compatibility capabilities to upgrade the contents.

Whilst the database upgrade will be the main choice performed by organization’s, you will need to be at one of the below database versions to perform an upgrade. Otherwise you will have to upgrade to that ‘jump’ release and perform a 2nd upgrade into 19c:

  • 11.2.0.4

  • 12.1.0.2

  • 12.2.0.1

  • 18.1

Choosing to upgrade via Datapump is a good choice in the following circumstances:

  • You don’t want to retain system history of the database like Advanced Compression usage, CPU usage high watermarks, or Diagnostics usage history;

  • You want to change to different platforms or migrate to a cloud instance or cloud service including the Autonomous Database;

  • You want to avoid doing multiple upgrades as your current version is not a jump release in the above list; or

  • You want to use the extracted contents to populate many other databases that would not be practical by upgrading and then cloning.

An Australian based Oracle Gold Partner ready to help you

Oracle 19c is an important release for Oracle. There are many significant business benefits in the Standard Edition offering, and the merits of the Enterprise Edition is increased robustness of the underlying technical layer that is difficult to translate to tangible business benefits outside of high performance, consistent performance and ongoing reliability that the Oracle database is famous for.

Pebble IT is an Australian owned and based business that has been upgrading Oracle databases and more for 10+ years including upgrading clients to Oracle Database 19c whether it be in-place upgrades or using Datapump for re-platforming and migrating to several clouds, so please feel free to email us at hello@pebbleit.com.au for more information or to organise a no obligation conversation about your situation and how we can help you plan for this important milestone and complement your team to achieve the strategic requirements of your business.

Alternatively, you can contact us here to talk to us about your requirements.

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