One of our senior Oracle Support engineers recently asked, "What's the best strategy for applying patches to E-Business Suite environments?" Applying updates and patches is such a major part of an Apps DBA's responsibilities that I assumed that this was already covered in our existing documentation. In looking through our systems administration guides, I was surprised to find that this isn't discussed anywhere.
Here's a general best practices patching strategy for all EBS environments. In order of priority, you should:
Pay attention to the ranking
The order of priority is important. Most customers have difficulties in keeping up with the first four sets of updates. If you do keep current with those first four categories of patches, the amount of incremental work associated with the remaining two categories is minimal and can generally be avoided entirely.
Why bother patching?
Because it's cheaper and safer in the long run. I'm always surprised by customers who pay more attention to maintaining their car than a mission-critical enterprise resource planning system.
The E-Business Suite is a large, complex system. The further you fall behind in maintaining your system:
Use tools to automate your updates
The savvy DBA takes advantage of as many tools as possible to automate these updates. If you are still applying patches manually to every EBS environment, you're wasting a lot of time. Check out the Application Change Management Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite (part of the Application Management Suite). This Enterprise Manager plug-in automates the process of checking for required patches, staging those patches, then applying those patches to multiple EBS environments.
Yes, it requires additional licencing, but I think that most organisations can recoup those costs very, very quickly. Patching manually is time-consuming, error-prone, and tricky to keep organized when you have multiple development, staging, QA, and preproduction environments. In my eyes, automation is really the only solution.
Formal documentation updates are coming
Future versions of our formal EBS documentation will include this advice. Our Oracle Support team is also working on a set of Life Cycle Advisor documents for the E-Business Suite. They tell me that this will cover everything a DBA should know if you've never applied patches to EBS before. I'll profile those new Advisor guides as soon as they're published.