The Importance of Staying Current on the Latest Product Releases and Patches
By Phil Catalano-Oracle on May 17, 2013
What is the Error Correction Policy?
Oracle provides bug fixes for products as part of Premier and Extended Support (but not Sustaining Support). Error Correction explains the methods that are used to deliver bug fixes and some of the policies regarding those methods. The Error Correction Policy describes details about how Oracle delivers error corrections within the life of those releases. This includes policies on how long we will create new fixes for older forms of patch delivery such as patch sets and bundle patches.
Oracle Technology products are released and maintained using the following model:
Major releases (e.g. Database 11.2, EM 12.1, or FMW 11.1) are released periodically and listed separately in the Fusion Middleware Lifetime Support Policy.
Patch sets – An integrated, cumulative, fully tested collection of fixes issued in between major product releases. Patch sets may include minor enhancements. Patch sets have their own version numbers which indicate their relationship to the release they maintain (e.g. DB 184.108.40.206). This is our primary maintenance vehicle.
Proactive patches and bundles (such as Patch Set Updates and Security Patch Updates) are released on a regular basis to maintain the patch sets. They provide a well-tested set of important fixes that should be part of every customer’s proactive maintenance strategy.
Interim patches are released as required to correct specific severe bugs for specific software versions. These corrections are then later incorporated into a release, patch set, or proactive patch or bundle.
Diagnostic patches are created for specific versions to diagnose specific issues, and are temporary (removed after diagnosis is complete) and not included in any later release.
In general, proactive and interim patches are created only on the most current patch set, and for some period of time (the Grace Period) on the previous patch set. Because of this, it is very important for you to plan to stay current on patch sets.
Interim patches are created for severe problems for which no reasonable workaround exists. A request for one must meet certain criteria for customer business and operational impact before being accepted, and the fix must be technically feasible for Oracle to create in a way that will not be likely to cause further bugs. Because they involve some inherent risk compared to patch sets and proactive patches and bundles (where all the fixes are tested together), if a fix is already in one of those you should consider applying the patch set or proactive patch rather than apply a separate interim patch.
What is the Grace Period?
The Grace Period is the period of time following the release of a patch set where Oracle creates new fixes for both the new and previous patch set, allowing customers time to plan for and install the new patch set. The Grace Period is intended to provide customers adequate time to plan the installation of a new patch set. During this time Oracle will continue to create new fixes for the previous patch set. Grace Periods vary by product – please see the Error Correction Policy Appendix A for details by product.
Which Patch Sets Will Oracle Create New Fixes On?
All Patch Sets are supported as long as the product release is supported. Oracle will investigate bugs and will provide assistance for all supported product releases.
However, error correction is only available for the:
Current patch set, and
Previous patch set, for the duration of the Grace Period.
Error Correction includes new bug fixes through Interim Patches, Bundle Patches, Patch Set Updates, and Security Patch Updates.
Oracle Products Relying on WebLogic Server
Some Oracle products (e.g. WebLogic Portal) have been coupled to WebLogic Server. That is, they require specific releases of WebLogic Server. If maintenance is required on these versions of WebLogic Server please see Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle WebLogic Server
For further reference:
- Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle WebLogic Server
- Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g (11.1.1/11.1.2)
- Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle Fusion Middleware (10g/11g/WLS)
- Database, FMW, EM Grid Control, and OCS Software Error Correction Support Policy
- Error Correction Policy as it applies to Oracle WebLogic Portal (WLP)
- Oracle Lifetime Support Policy for Oracle Fusion Middleware