In the Field

Time to Upgrade

New features in Oracle Database 12c make upgrade evaluations easy.

By Michelle Malcher

September/October 2013

Oracle Database 12c, the much-anticipated new release of Oracle Database, is now available, and it comes with the first major database structure change since Oracle8i Database. There are so many new features for consolidating, managing, and securing database environments that everyone must be planning the upgrades already, right?

How do I know? Members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) were involved in beta testing upgrades to Oracle Database 12c. Armed with earlier releases of Oracle Database, several of our members went to Oracle’s Redwood Shores, California, headquarters to test upgrades for their environments. Oracle Database 12c features were tested, including the new Oracle Multitenant option. Based on the results, I am already planning to upgrade to Oracle Database 12c.

The cost and work involved in a database upgrade are always a major consideration, but Oracle Database 12c includes features that can save time and cut costs. Here are some Oracle Database 12c features that save time and the cost of that time.

Members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) were involved in beta testing upgrades to Oracle Database 12c.

Any DBA who has had to create a small “one-off” database instance because of a different maintenance window, application availability, or a security concern can take advantage of the new Oracle Multitenant architecture. It allows for separate security and can be composed of one or more schemas and applications while using the multitenant container database for the system resources. One multitenant container database can support several pluggable databases, which makes it easier to manage and consolidate many databases. I immediately thought of security-patching critical patch updates and patch set updates, and for those of us used to creating a new ORACLE_HOME and migrating the whole database instance over, this is almost the same concept. A new multitenant container database can be created and patched, and then each of the pluggable databases can be migrated over with a simple unplug and plug into the new container.

This is probably not exactly what Oracle was thinking when developing the concept for consolidating databases, but if patching and maintenance windows are an issue in your environment and are the reason you have several instances created on a server, the multitenant container database and pluggable databases lay the foundation for an excellent business case to upgrade to Oracle Database 12c. Also, think about the manageability aspect of maintaining one container database instead of several small instances.

Security is another reason to start planning an Oracle Database 12c upgrade. Oracle Database 12c is packed with several new and enhanced security features. A great new security feature is privilege analysis, which allows DBAs to get to the bottom of what permissions are really needed and used. How much time is that going to save in audit reports and managing the security for least privilege?

Redaction is another security feature that is easy to implement and probably will save a lot of time previously spent having to mask data in different environments or code solutions to hide private data and information. Setting up a comprehensive redaction policy for users, applications, and environments can further protect sensitive data.

Hopefully you can start to see valuable reasons to think about upgrading to Oracle Database 12c. It is always difficult to balance the cost of moving to a new release with the potential savings in resources, management, and efficiencies of processes. Looking at environments that can be consolidated and secured to simplify auditing is a good place to start.

IOUG is here to help back you up, too. With members of the IOUG community already understanding the details about new Oracle Database 12c features and having had the opportunity to experience the upgrade process, you have a resource to help make this planning less challenging. Be on the lookout for articles and webinars from IOUG at its website (

Next Steps


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