Exadata System Software Release 23.1

March 8, 2023 | 8 minute read
Alex Blyth
Senior Principal Product Manager
Seth Miller
Principal Product Manager
Carlos Ortiz
Sr. Principal Product Manager
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To give you a single place to keep up with Exadata technical news, we'll post Exadata System Software releases here on blogs.oracle.com/exadata as soon as they are available.

This post details the 23.1.0.0.0 release.

Exadata System Software Release 23.1.0.0.0 is now generally available.

The Exadata development team is pleased to announce the release of Exadata System Software 23.1.0.0.0. This is an exciting release that delivers significant enhancements to the Exadata Database Machine. Customers upgrading from previous software releases can refer to My Oracle Support Note 888828.1, which provides the minimum set of Grid Infrastructure and Database Software versions and patches needed to update to Exadata System Software Release 23.1.

Oracle Linux 8 and UEK6

The core of the 23.1 release is the upgrade to Oracle Linux 8.7 and UEK6 (5.4.17). Development of the Exadata family is driven by a relentless pursuit of performance, and an unwavering commitment to stability. To address the need for stability, our customers demand that we take a somewhat conservative approach to upgrading the operating system of the database and storage servers from one version of Oracle Linux to the next. This approach ensures that the core operating system has had sufficient time to be road tested - both internally and under real world conditions - and enables the development team to ensure that fixes specific to the hardware used by Exadata are found and resolved early in the adoption lifecycle.

Supported Hardware

The 23.1 release of Exadata Software supports X5 and newer generations of Exadata Database Machine and Storage Expansion Rack. OVM Guests, KVM Guests, KVM Hosts, and Bare Metal will all be upgraded to Oracle Linux 8 and UEK6. OVM Hosts running version 22.1.0, will remain on Oracle Linux 7 and UEK5. OVM Guests can be upgraded to 23.1 with Oracle Linux 8/UEK6 on OVM Hosts running either 22.1.x or 23.1.

Exadata Storage Servers all get upgraded to Oracle Linux 8/UEK6 and are backward compatible with older versions of Exadata running on the database servers. 

Upgrade Paths

Upgrades to version 23.1.x are supported from versions within the last 12 months. So, as of the time of release, 21.2.10 (March 2022) or newer, including all releases of 22.1. Systems running versions older than 21.2.10 will first need to upgrade to at least 22.1.0 or 21.2.10 before upgrading to 23.1.x. This applies to both storage and database servers.

Storage Servers

Storage servers use the same update process as previous releases to upgrade cells to the new release, and the process does not differ between bare metal and virtualized deployment. Patchmgr can be used to perform rolling (recommended to avoid downtime) or non-rolling upgrades.

Database Servers

Bare Metal

Database server upgrades in bare metal deployments use the same update process as previous releases, and patchmgr can be used to perform rolling or non-rolling upgrades.

Virtualized

Virtualized deployments are where things get interesting - not complicated - interesting. So let's break it down a little. On the X5-X8 (Oracle Virtual Machine hypervisor) and the X8M-X9M (KVM hypervisor) generations of Exadata, there are two components that need to be upgraded. On X5-X8, the two components are Dom0 (the OVM Host) and DomU (OVM Guests). On X8M-X9M, the two components are KVM Hosts and the KVM Guests.

The good news across all generations is that you can upgrade the Hosts and Guests independently and in any order. There is no upgrade order requirement between the guests and hosts, as long as the host is at the minimum version of 21.2.10.

The following graphics should make this all even easier to understand. In both the X8M-X9M (RoCE Systems) and the X5-X8 (Infiniband Systems) workflows — start in the top left corner where the Dom0/KVM Hosts and the DomU/KVM Guests are in their starting state and then follow either the red path to upgrade the host first or the green path to upgrade the guests first.

Exadata X5-X8 Upgrade paths for Virtualized Platforms

Note that on X5-X8 systems, the operating system kernel version on Dom0 differs slightly from DomU. If Dom0 runs Exadata System Software 21.2.x, the operating system is Oracle Linux 6 and UEK4 — if Dom0 runs 22.1.x, the operating system is Oracle Linux 7 and UEK5. If you are still running 21.2.x in Dom0, upgrading to 23.1 will upgrade the operating system from Oracle Linux 6 and UEK4 to Oracle Linux 7 and UEK5. If you are running 22.1.x in Dom0, upgrading to 23.1 does not require an operating system upgrade (Linux packages will be updated), only the Exadata System Software will be upgraded.

Exadata X8M-X9M Upgrade paths for Virtualized Platforms

For X8M and X9M deployments, upgrades from version 22.1.10 or newer to 23.1 all include an OS upgrade in hosts and guests.

Grid Infrastructure and Database Support

Grid Infrastructure

As of the release of Exadata System Software 23.1 supports the following minimum or newer Oracle Grid Infrastructure versions:

  • Release 19c: Version 19.15, April 2022 Release Update (RU) and newer (Default)

  • Release 21c: Version 21.6, April 2022 Release Update (RU) and newer

The above Grid Infrastructure releases support all versions of Oracle Database from 11.2 to 19c (in the case of GI 19.15), and 21c (in the case of GI 21.6). You can check the Grid Infrastructure/ASM/Database version support matrix in Note 337737.1 on My Oracle Support.

Database

As of the release of Exadata System Software 23.1 supports the following minimum versions or newer for new Database installations using OEDA:

  • Release 19c: Version 19.15, April 2022 Release Update (RU) and newer (Default)

  • Release 21c: Version 21.6, April 2022 Release Update (RU) and newer

Existing Database Deployment

For deployments that have older releases of Oracle Database already installed, GI 19c and 21c support older releases of Oracle Database, as detailed above. While I must stress the importance of upgrading to Oracle 19c, there are possibly older database versions that may need to remain during the upgrade to Exadata System Software 23.1. Oracle Database 11.2.0.4, 12.1.0.2, and 12.2.0.1 are all certified on Oracle Linux 8.

If you are still planning your database upgrades, plan to upgrade them to Oracle 19c as soon as practical - all prior versions are either in lifetime/sustaining or market-driven support. See MOS Note 742060.1 for more details.

Exadata RDMA Memory

Beginning in Exadata 23.1, and with the April Release Updates for Database 19c and 21c, the Persistent Memory Data and Commit Accelerators have been renamed to Exadata RDMA Memory (XRMEM) Data and Commit Accelerators. Functionally, both the XRMEM Data Accelerator and XRMEM Commit Accelerator work in exactly the same way and deliver exactly the same performance benefits as they did under their previous names. However, XRMEM highlights the technology that enables database servers to access cached data in memory available within the Exadata Storage Servers.

That technology is Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA).

Without RDMA and the RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) network fabric connecting the database and storage servers together, NVMe and DRAM would only be useful from within the storage server in which it resides. Because RDMA is so much faster and more efficient than traditional ethernet technologies, Oracle Database software on database servers can read from and write to storage server memory as if it were local memory - bypassing OS, context switches, interrupts, network, and IO - and reducing latency significantly for both reads and writes.

Exadata RDMA Memory (XRMEM) Data Accelerator

 

Exadata RDMA Memory (XRMEM) Commit Accelerator

 

Centralized Identification and Authentication of OS Users

Many customers utilize LDAP and Kerberos for centralized user management of operating system accounts. In Exadata 23.1, Linux System Security Services Daemon and related packages have been included in the core Exadata platform. Configuration is easy using a customer 'EXADATA'-specific authselect profile meaning Exadata Database and Storage Servers can be added to an existing LDAP domain quickly and confidently. The use of centralized OS authentication for non-default accounts (i.e. not oracle, root, etc.) streamlines administrator account on-boarding and off-boarding, aligns password controls, and ultimately enables customers to enhance their security posture.

Support of Previous Exadata Software Releases

Because this release contains a major operating system update, the previous release series, 22.1 will continue to produce sustaining releases for the next 24 months, ending in March 2025. The intention is to enable customers to sufficiently plan, test, and execute updates to 23.1 with confidence and success, while still maintaining Exadata systems with the latest updates in the 22.1 series. The cadence of the sustaining releases for 22.1 will switch from monthly to quarterly during the 24-month period.

More Information

More information on the Exadata System Software 23.1 release can be found in the What's New in Oracle Exadata Database Machine chapter of the Exadata System Overview Guide. Documentation for Oracle Exadata Database Machine is available here.

Customers upgrading from previous software releases can refer to My Oracle Support Note 888828.1, which provides the minimum set of Grid Infrastructure and Database Software versions and patches needed to update to Exadata System Software Release 23.1.

Continued Focus on Performance, Availability, Scalability and Security

Exadata Database Machine is known and has proven itself as being the best platform for running Oracle Database. This means a relentless and continued focus with every release of Exadata System Software on Performance, Availability, Scalability, and Security. This release is no different - the development team is always looking for and taking opportunities to optimize and refine the software focusing on these pillars separately, as well as where they intersect. Exadata Software Release 23.1 is an important milestone. Moving to Oracle Linux 8 and UEK 6 lays the groundwork for Exadata in the years ahead, as does the unwavering focus the development team have on building the best database machine.

On that note, on behalf of the PM team, I'd like to acknowledge the incredible development and testing teams that have been working tirelessly on this release. Thank you all for, yet again, giving your all and continuing to make Exadata the best it can be!

 

Alex Blyth

Senior Principal Product Manager

Alex Blyth is a Product Manager for Oracle Exadata with over 22 years of IT experience mainly focused on Oracle Database, Engineered Systems, manageability tools such as Enterprise Manager and most recently Cloud. Prior to joining the product management team, Alex was a member of the Australia/New Zealand Oracle Presales community and before that a customer of Oracle's at a Financial Services organisation.

Seth Miller

Principal Product Manager

Seth Miller is a Product Manager for Oracle Exadata and has been working with Oracle products at various companies since 2005. Seth has a strong technical background with extensive experience with Oracle Database and Exadata as a DBA, Consultant, Systems Integrator, Oracle University Instructor, and Product Manager. Seth has also been heavily involved with the Oracle user community, previously serving on the boards of two Oracle Users Groups.

Carlos Ortiz

Sr. Principal Product Manager

Carlos A. Ortiz is a Sr. Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Database group, focused on Oracle Engineered Systems, including Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Database Appliance. Carlos has 20+ years of product management experience in the Information Technology industry, managing mission-critical systems solutions for databases and applications. 


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