It is not uncommon to come across Fusion Middleware 11g product solutions which do not have the latest patch set applied. Example: a business has a SOA Suite 18.104.22.168 in production. The solution has been working fine for three years, and then new business requirements forces an application change. The change, unfortunately, breaks rather than enhances existing functionality. A Service Request is logged with My Oracle Support and the business receive the news that the problem is caused by a bug, a patch for which is available. "Good news!" But, it is a patch which can only be applied against the latest patch set. Furthermore, the fix will not be backported to 22.214.171.124. "Oh .. really .. why can't we get a fix for the patch set we are on? Lifetime Support Policy - Level: Premier Support - has not yet expired for 11g."
The business has been blissfully unaware of the Server Technology Products Software Error Correction Policy. This document describes the different types of patches which Oracle may release for products and the policies which surround them. It is particularly important, however, to read the product line specific advice found in the Appendix. To part quote, the advice for Oracle Fusion Middleware:
Grace Period: up to 1 year, minimum 3 months.
You have up to one year from the initial release of the patch set to install the new patch set, and can receive new bug fixes for the previous patch set during that time ...
For details (including links to documents containing error correction dates for specific products and patch sets), see
Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle Fusion Middleware (10g/11g/WLS) (Doc ID 944866.1).
In 944866.1, you will find a link to
Error Correction Support Dates for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g (11.1.1/11.1.2) (Doc ID 1290894.1)
which shows that the error correction grace period for Fusion Middleware (which covers SOA) 126.96.36.199 ended in January 2012. This explains why, in our scenario above, the business will need to first apply the latest available patch set, followed by the interim patch in order to fix their issue.
In conclusion, having a patch and maintain strategy is essential. Maintaining Fusion Middleware products at the latest major version and/or patch set release + updates has the following benefits:
- Proactively applying the latest patch set and updates can avoid problems and therefore minimize downtime.
- It can reduce the time taken to consume or obtain fixes for new issues.
If you are using Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, bookmark and regularly review:
Information Center: Patching and Maintaining Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g (Doc ID 1341616.2)
This Information Center contains links to knowledge articles which discuss the Error Correction policy and list Error Correction end dates. The Information Center is also a one stop shop for links to patch and patch set collateral:
- Patch Set Release Announcements
- Patch Set Updates (including Critical Patch Update) information
- Patching Documentation
- And more ..
Get proactive, know your error correction end dates and put in a place a strategy to keep your product up to date with the latest patch set and updates.