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.
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:
So, for example, as of the beginning of July 2020, we have:
I’ll explain in a few minutes why there are four releases listed here, but let’s first go through the details.
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.)
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.
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.
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:
See New Features for Exadata System Software Release 18 for details on this release.
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.
See New Features for Exadata System Software Release 20 for details on this release.
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.
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.
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:
Monitor My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for future schedule updates.
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.
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.
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:
So not only Exadata Software, but Oracle Database, Grid Infrastructure and Enterprise Manager updates.
The latest QFSDP was released in April 2020, and includes:
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:
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.