Since the early days Oracle started to work with versions identified by sequential numbers: 2, 3, etc… until version 12c now. Each version has several releases, containing new features and bug fixes (like 12c Release 1 and 12c Release 2). Both versions and releases come available when Oracle thinks they’re stable and reliable for production purposes, with an estimated release date (see Oracle support note 742060.1).
At last, to make sure most critical security fixes and bugs can be solved (without the need to install different interim patches separately), bundle patches are released on the Tuesday closest to the 17th day of January, April, July and October. Those have different names depending on the OS and content, for example a CPU only contains security fixes, a PSU contains both the security fixes and priority fixes, for Windows and Exadata Bundle Patches are released.
This all seems to change within the very near future according to some announcements made by DOAG (the German Oracle User Group), as a new Release Model will come in place as of July 2017.
One of the main reasons: Up until now new releases for Oracle were very big and took a lot of time to come out because a lot of feature content is in them. The impact for installation this way can be very high and customers needed to wait a long time before some new and important features in this fast-changing world were available.
From now on, according to DOAG, new Feature Releases will come out every year using the calendar year for the version, which is actually 18 for 2018, when the first Feature Release should be available. They will hold new feature content, but since they come out every year the amount will be smaller. Making it both easier for Oracle to test them and causing less impact for the customers to install them.
The quarterly patches will still be available, but PSU’s and Bundle Patches will be replaced by Release Updates (RU) starting from July 2017 for Oracle 12c Release 2. RU are proactive, highly tested bundles of critical fixes that will enable us to avoid known issues and fix bugs. The Release Updates will contain also all available one-off patches, so they can be enabled whenever needed without needing to install them separately.
For the next two quarters after a certain RU was made available, there will be Release Update Revisions that will hold all the security and regression fixes for a RU.
Off course we perform a close follow up of this topic, whenever Oracle officially provides more information, we’ll summarize it to have an idea about the impact towards Oracle database customers (what about the years of support given for a certain feature release, how easily can one upgrade from one feature release to another one, etc…).
In the meanwhile, just keep on patching and upgrading like before. Do you want to have an idea how long your Oracle version is still supported? Never installed an update and probably running a version containing a lot of security holes and bugs? Want to know how one can install patches without any or with limited downtime? Just ask us for more information or help within your Oracle database patching. Contact us by phone: +32 3 450 67 89, via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling in the form on this page.