What's the Best Way to Patch an E-Business Suite Environment?

By: Steven Chan | Senior Director

One of our senior Oracle Support engineers recently asked, "What's the best strategy for applying patches to E-Business Suite environments?"  Applying updates and patches is such a major part of an Apps DBA's responsibilities that I assumed that this was already covered in our existing documentation. In looking through our systems administration guides, I was surprised to find that this isn't discussed anywhere.

Here's a general best practices patching strategy for all EBS environments.  In order of priority, you should:

  1. Apply the latest EBS Release Update Pack. For example: 12.1.3 for Release 12.1, 12.0.6 for Release 12.0, 11.5.10.2 for Release 11i.  
  2. Apply the latest EBS Family Packs and all patches on the Recommended Patch List. This includes ATG Release Update Packs and AutoConfig updates.  
  3. Upgrade all technology stack components to the latest certified levels. For example, as of today, the latest certified levels for EBS 12 are Database 11.2.0.2, Forms 10.1.2.3, OC4J 10.1.3.5, Oracle Internet Directory 11.1.1.3.  Check the Certifications database on My Oracle Support or this blog's one page summary of EBS certifications for a snapshot of the latest certified patchsets for technology stack components.  
  4. Apply the latest Critical Patch Updates (CPU) You should always apply the latest security patches.  Always.  These are released quarterly.  
  5. <Optional> Apply the latest Database Patch Set Updates (PSU) and the required EBS prerequisites It's safe to apply Database PSUs to your EBS environment.  Some customers like the convenience of PSUs.  Some don't.  It's up to you.  
  6. Apply specific one-off and interim patches... ... but only if they're really required for your environment.  This applies to both EBS and technology stack component patches.  You're generally better-off waiting for patches to be rolled into the bigger release vehicles listed in #1 to #4, above.  Those consolidated release vehicles are tested more comprehensively with all Apps modules and configurations than one-off or interim patches. 

Pay attention to the ranking

The order of priority is important.  Most customers have difficulties in keeping up with the first four sets of updates.  If you do keep current with those first four categories of patches, the amount of incremental work associated with the remaining two categories is minimal and can generally be avoided entirely.

Why bother patching?

Because it's cheaper and safer in the long run.  I'm always surprised by customers who pay more attention to maintaining their car than a mission-critical enterprise resource planning system.

The E-Business Suite is a large, complex system.  The further you fall behind in maintaining your system:

  • The more work it requires to isolate and resolve issues.
  • The greater the likelihood of encountering an avoidable known issue.
  • The greater the risk of upgrading from an untested configuration to a new version.
  • The greater the effort required to upgrade to new versions.
  • The greater the risk that you will not be able to get patches for your existing configuration.

Use tools to automate your updates

The savvy DBA takes advantage of as many tools as possible to automate these updates.  If you are still applying patches manually to every EBS environment, you're wasting a lot of time.  Check out the Application Change Management Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite (part of the Application Management Suite).  This Enterprise Manager plug-in automates the process of checking for required patches, staging those patches, then applying those patches to multiple EBS environments. 

Yes, it requires additional licencing, but I think that most organisations can recoup those costs very, very quickly.  Patching manually is time-consuming, error-prone, and tricky to keep organized when you have multiple development, staging, QA, and preproduction environments.  In my eyes, automation is really the only solution.

Formal documentation updates are coming

Future versions of our formal EBS documentation will include this advice.  Our Oracle Support team is also working on a set of Life Cycle Advisor documents for the E-Business Suite.  They tell me that this will cover everything a DBA should know if you've never applied patches to EBS before.  I'll profile those new Advisor guides as soon as they're published.

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Comments ( 18 )
  • Neil Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Hi Steven,

    Isn't the latest certified forms version 10.1.2.3 not 10.1.2.2?

    Thanks

    Neil


  • Ketan Thanki Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    I am glad the senior Oracle support engineer asked this question. This is an excellent resource page and a must read for any DBA maintaining Oracle EBS environments. I have already notified my DBA.

    Ketan


  • Ramaswamy Sury Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Does this mean:

    --- From your blog above ----

    1.Apply the latest EBS Release Update Pack.

    For example: 12.1.3 for Release 12.1, 12.0.6 for Release 12.0, 11.5.10.2 for Release 11i.

    ----

    One has to upgrade to 12.0.6 before going to 12.1.3 or 12.1.6? OR can they directly upgrade from 12.0.4 to 12.1.3 or 12.1.6.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks and I also take this oppertunity for your valuble blogs.

    Sury


  • Steven Chan Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Neil,

    Indeed -- thanks for catching that typo. Fixed now.

    Regards,

    Steven


  • guest Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Steven,

    Yet another excellent post, thank you.

    It would be interesting if you could provide your guidance on how PSUs/CPUs would be most appropriately tested. In our environment, our testers currently test them as they do functional patches, (end-to-end, a weeks-long endeavor), and this limits how often we are able to apply security patches. I've yet to find anyone (peer, consultant, Oracle analyst) who has been willing to recommend a more targeted testing strategy. Your input on that issue would be most welcome.

    Kate Bakich


  • Steven Chan Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Sury,

    12.0.4 environments can be upgraded to 12.1.1. Once you're on 12.1.1, then you can apply 12.1.3.

    Regards,

    Steven


  • Mike Monday, April 16, 2012

    What's your recommendation for avoiding the new bugs introduced with each patch. We test like crazy and we still get hit by a new bugs with every patch.

    Mike


  • Steven Chan Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Hi, Mike,

    Can you give an example of the types of patches and issues you've encountered?

    Regards,

    Steven


  • guest Friday, June 1, 2012

    We want to upgrade from 12.0.6 to 12.1 .

    What are the steps to achieve this ?

    Thanks

    Ray


  • Vivian Yao Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Hi Steven,

    Remember a while ago read your blog about PSU, that PSU doesn't go through a formal EBS certification process. Is this still the case or already changed to formal certified now?

    Also, I have a dummy question - Is it certified that EBS CPU not the same quarter as Database CPU? Let's say because EBS test cycle is longer than stand alone database, company database standard is latest one, can I have EBS CPU as N-1? As your previous Blog, often Database CPUs often include or modified EBS content. I am assuming the same quarter of CPU between DB/EBS/Fusion middleware have been test?

    Thanks,

    Vivian


  • Steven Chan Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Hi, Vivian,

    I'm sorry that you had trouble posting your comment; all comments are moderated before publication.

    PSUs go through limited testing on a subset of the certified E-Business Suite platforms. It is safe for EBS users to apply PSUs. You can find a link to the latest summary of EBS interop patches at the top of this article:

    Can E-Business Users Apply Database Patch Set Updates? (Oracle E-Business Suite Technology)

    https://blogs.oracle.com/stevenChan/entry/can_ebs_users_apply_database_patch_set_updates

    We test EBS CPUs at the same time as Database CPUs for a given quarter. We do not test mix-and-match combinations. On first principles alone, I would expect such combinations to work, but it would be preferable to keep your patching cycles synchronized.

    Regards,

    Steven


  • Vivian Yao Friday, September 28, 2012

    Thanks a lot! This really helps.

    Vivian


  • guest Sunday, February 10, 2013

    I am upgrading 11.1.0.7 and R12.1.2 to 11.2.0.3.5 and R12.1.3

    The interoperability note 1058763.1 states that Patch 9062910 is for R12.1 and 11gR2. But the readme of the patch itself states it's for 12.1.1 specifically. Do I apply this to R12.1.2? It's not currently applied.

    11g Release 2 interoperability patch for Release 12.1 (patch 9062910)


  • John Abraham Friday, February 15, 2013

    Hello guest -

    Yes, the patch 9062910 will work for 12.1.1 and higher RUPs (like 12.1.2) as noted in the MOS Note 1058763.1.

    Regards,

    John


  • guest Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    What Patch is this?

    p9746867_R12.ZX.A_R12_GENERIC

    What is use for? is this for Database or EBS?


  • Steven Chan Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Hi, Guest,

    Oracle Support can help you with questions like this. That's an EBS patch for the Tax product.

    Regards,

    Steven


  • Peter Z@INC Tuesday, April 7, 2015

    Steven,

    We're looking into patches to update our 12.1.x EBS environment hosted by OMCS. We've been focusing on "EBS: R12.1 Oracle Financials Recommended Patch Collection (RPC), Feb 2015 (Doc ID 954704.1)" to identify a baseline of patching to apply and then were planning to add specific one-off patches for any known issues not covered by the RPC.

    I didn't see the RPC referenced in your article's prioritized list of best practices for patching. Does the RPC supercede #s 1 & 2, or how does it fit into current best practices? Would you consider updating the prioritized list to reflect this?

    Thanks in advance,

    Peter


  • Steven Chan Tuesday, April 7, 2015

    Hello, Peter,

    You should apply the latest EBS suite-wide RPC that's available. As of today, that's RPC 2. See:

    Second Recommended Patch Collection for EBS 12.1.3 Now Available

    https://blogs.oracle.com/stevenChan/entry/new_rpc2_recommended_patch_collection

    You should apply product family level RPCs that are released after the suite-wide RPCs, too. That will ensure that you have the baseline established by the suite-wide RPC as well as any additional new fixes for the products that you're using.

    Regards,

    Steven


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