Exadata Software Updates Explained

July 11, 2020 | 6 minute read
Gavin Parish
Senior Principal Product Manager
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You may be wondering why we have several Exadata System Software Releases, with each release having regular updates being announced. I thought I’d spend a few minutes to discuss what these versions are, and when and how each is updated.

Before we continue, I need to ensure we are on the same page from a legal perspective, so will just leave this here:

The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing, and pricing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation.

OK, now that’s out the way, let’s have a look at version numbers.

Version Numbering

I’ll only talk about Exadata here, other Oracle products may use different terminology and numbering, have their own release cycles, and their own individual nuances.

We use the following version nomenclature:

  • Release Year dot Feature Release dot Sustaining Release

So, for example, as of the beginning of July 2020, we have:

Exadata Sustaining Release Versions


I’ll explain in a few minutes why there are four releases listed here, but let’s first go through the details.

Release Year

Similar to other Oracle products, Exadata moved to a yearly release. (You could also see this as an Oracle Database version support identifier, read on for the evidence of this.)

Feature Release

A feature release provides new software features to enhance existing system functionality. Support for new hardware generations is also added if available. Any previously identified bug fixes, security updates and code optimizations that are available are also added to the feature release. Feature releases are also where support for older generations are removed, in alignment with Exadata System Software Certification, seen in My Oracle Support Note 2075007.1.

Identifying when a feature release occurs helps customers determine whether they would like to pick up these new features, or to continue on their currently supported sustaining release, and leave updating to the next major release to a later date.

While we always suggest updating to the latest feature release (as we’re excited about new features and want the best for you), we understand it can be a time and resource consuming task to validate new features and functionality. Hence the need for a sustaining release solution, described below.

Sustaining Release

A sustaining release is a set of updates (bug fixes, security updates) that are to be applied on top of a software feature release that maintains support and security currency. That is, remaining up-to-date with Engineering’s latest code updates, security fixes and aligned with Oracle’s support structure.

New Exadata systems are shipped from the factory with the latest Feature and Sustaining Release preinstalled.

Ensuring you are on the latest sustaining release is extremely important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Exadata System.

What Exadata System Software Releases are Available?

As I mentioned above, at the time of writing (early July 2020), there are four Exadata System Software Releases being actively supported. A quick overview of each:

Exadata System Software 18

  • Exadata System Software Release 18.1, first released in October 2017 to support Database 18c and Exadata X7 hardware generation, built on Oracle Linux 6 Operating System with Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 4. Sustaining Release 18.1.29 was released in June 2020.

See New Features for Exadata System Software Release 18 for details on this release.

Exadata System Software 19

  • Exadata System Software Release 19.1 was released in October 2018. Its main feature was the support for Database 19c, a seamless upgrade to Oracle Linux 7 with UEK4 (from Oracle Linux 6 UEK4 in 18.1). This release was terminated in February 2019 at the release of 19.2.
  • Exadata System Software Release 19.2, released in February 2019 was the continuation of the 19.1 Release and provided support for Exadata X8 hardware generation, including the new Extended (XT) Storage Server. It continued with Oracle Linux 7 UEK4. Sustaining Release 19.2.15 was released in June 2020.
  • Exadata System Software Release 19.3, released in September 2019, provided support for Exadata X8M hardware generation, the first with the new RoCE network fabric and Persistent Memory Data and Commit Accelerators. It also introduced Oracle Linux 7 with the UEK5 kernel. Sustaining Release 19.3.9 was released in June 2020.

Both 19.2 and 19.3 feature releases remain actively supported at this time.

See New Features for Exadata System Software Release 19 for details on these releases.

Exadata System Software 20

  • Exadata System Software Release 20.1 is the latest release of Exadata Software, announced in June 2020. Exadata 20.1 utilizes Oracle Linux 7 with the UEK5 kernel. Like I mentioned above, we’re excited about the new features announced, and suggest scheduling the update to 20.1 for all supported Exadata machines, but understand the time and resource constraints. As it is brand new, there are currently no sustaining releases on 20.1, these will start in the coming months.

See New Features for Exadata System Software Release 20 for details on this release.

Exadata Software Release Planning

This brings us to talking about future releases. Our overall goal is to provide a smooth transition through Feature and Sustaining Releases for all supported Exadata machine generations, maintaining compatibility for all supported Oracle Database versions.

Release Date

The target release date of all sustaining releases is the nearest Tuesday to the 17th of the release month. As mentioned, this is a target date and is subject to change without notice.

Exadata System Software 18

Starting in July 2020, we will be reducing 18.1 Sustaining Releases to once a quarter for the remainder of 2020. Support for this release is planned to be removed in 2021. Current dates are set to:

  • July 2020 – 18.1.30
  • October 2020
  • January 2021

Monitor My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for future schedule updates.

Exadata System Software 19

Continuing through to the end of 2020, both 19.2 and 19.3 will remain on monthly sustaining release cadence. On or after the January 2021 Sustaining Release, both 19.2 and 19.3 will be discontinued. This plan will be adjusted as needed in 2021. Monitor My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for future schedule updates.

Exadata System Software 20

Continuing through to the end of 2020 and through 2021, 20.1 will remain on monthly sustaining releases. Monitor My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for future schedule updates.

Quarterly Full Stack Download Patch (QFSDP)

A special note on bundling patches. As a convenience for downloading Exadata software updates, Oracle is providing the Quarterly Full Stack Download Patch (QFSDP).  The QFSDP contains the complete collection of current software updates, released quarterly, aligned with the database Critical Patch Update (CPU) program.

QFSDP releases contain the latest software for the following components:

  • Infrastructure
    • Exadata database and storage server
    • Fabric Switch
    • Power Distribution Unit
  • Database
    • Oracle Database and Grid Infrastructure
    • Oracle JavaVM
  • Systems Management
    • EM Agent
    • EM OMS
    • EM Plug-ins

So not only Exadata Software, but Oracle Database, Grid Infrastructure and Enterprise Manager updates.

The latest QFSDP was released in April 2020, and includes:

  • Patch 30783929 - Contains Exadata software releases,, and; Contains 19, 18,,, and quarterly database patches

Wrapping Up

I hope this blog post has helped you understand some of the details of the Exadata System Software update cycle, and will assist in future planning.

Here's a quick visual representation of what we've just walked through, and as suggested, is subject to change:

Exadata Sustaining Release Schedule

Head to My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for all the latest guidance on updates for Exadata, and keep an eye on blogs.oracle.com/exadata for future announcements. We are always interested in your feedback, you are welcome to engage with us via comments here or by twitter @GavinAtHQ.

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Gavin Parish

Senior Principal Product Manager

Gavin is a product manager in Oracle’s Exadata team, with a focus on software and hardware roadmap. Prior to the Exadata team, Gavin was a founding member of the team responsible for launching the industry’s first on-premises public cloud technology - Oracle Cloud at Customer. In his 15 years in Oracle Product Management, Presales and Consulting roles, Gavin has developed a robust understanding of all things Oracle, helping customers architect and implement a variety of infrastructure and application technologies.

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