Not normally my area, but I have been made aware of a Database Decision Dilemma and would welcome comments:
Oracle has a well defined Support Policy (MoS note IDs 1351163.1) and shown below is the extract for the database.
When a product moves into Extended Support you need to be on the terminal release, so for 11.1 the terminal release is 18.104.22.168
My Oracle Support Note ID 742060.1 towards the end of 2011 appeared to introduce a new policy of a 12 month grace period on databases to move to a point release. However it is referred to in the Software Error Correction Support documnet v 2.6 Oct 2009, but this may be an amendment or not enforced.
The dilemma is this Oracle policy on Patch Set Updates (PSUs). Previously these were available for any release on Premier support.
So for 22.214.171.124 which was released in Sep 2011 , Oracle state that 126.96.36.199 will get the “full” error correction PSUs (quarterly Patch Set Updates) only till Sep 2012. To add to this, the clock ticks from the date of the first release, in the case I am looking at, it is an AIX platform and that release of 188.8.131.52 was 5 weeks after, reducing this grace period to 47 weeks. This is a very large customer with development projects with long time scales. By the time a release is stable enough to start a project on, the grace period is even less. No one wants to have a database upgrade during the development cycle.
This customer does not need the added functionality offered in 11.2 over 11.1, so feature benefits are not relevant in this debate, they simply want a stable and supported product to develop their critical systems on, and to move those applications that are in a technical refresh cycle.
So their dilemma is, if they use 11.2.02 which is the most up to date and stable platform, they must do at least one upgrade during the project which is not acceptable. The alternative is to use 184.108.40.206 which is also stable and as the terminal release of 11.1 will be supported until August 2015. However, the upgrade needed then from 11.1 to 11.2 is a much more complex upgrade because in reality it is a new install to enable the new functionality (which remember they don’t need).
In this case using an old version of software gives them better mid term support. But this is only today’s issue, this grace period means that with new point releases almost every year, customers will need to upgrade every 12 months to keep within this grace period.
Why has it taken over 2 years for this to come to light or become an issue? This may be because of document management of Software Error Correction Support 2.6 (see note above)or I suspect that because people have stayed still. Many customers have only moved to 11g in the last 12 months and therefore were already in Extended Support.
I intend to take this up with Oracle Support at the IOUC meeting at the end of January but would appreciate comments or corrections from anyone.