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Automated In-place Upgrade for Oracle Fusion Middleware

Alistair Palmer
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Oracle Support Coverage

In February, Oracle announced an extension for Fusion Middleware 12.2.1.3 error correction through to December 2022. However, during this timeframe, content will be limited to P1 requests, and security updates (CPU program) delivered via standard quarterly patches. We’ve heard the extension (and the previous one) has been welcomed by our customers as they plan their upgrade to the Fusion Middleware’s LTS version of 12.2.1.4.

Upgrade Options for Customers

As far as upgrade options, there are really only two to choose from. Side by side and in place upgrades.

  • Side by side. Infrastructure is created in parallel as the current platform so allows for infrastructure refresh at the same time as upgrading. A useful resource for side by side upgrades is how we performed a side by side upgrade of Oracle SOA11g to SOA 12c with Oil Search in our case study at https://www.mystsoftware.com/case-studies/oilsearch
  • In-place upgrade. Utilises existing infrastructure assets to replace the product and domain. This simplifies external party communications but can be more complex in other areas.

Over our years of helping customers with upgrades, we generally saw side by side as the most common option by far. It was just easier to combine the upgrade with an infrastructure refresh or move to the cloud but what if you’re already there? What if want to continue with your infrastructure investments? Well, now you should really consider an in-place upgrade.

What we have been doing

The task of performing an upgrade has very rarely been an easy one and there are multiple trade-offs when it came to embarking on an upgrade path. Well, we’ve been working with our customers to better understand their requirements and choices when it came to conducting their upgrades. From our discussions, the top 5 complexities are summarised in the table below and what we are able to provide or suggest as a solution or counter-measure to the challenge.

Challenge Approach
Upgrades require changing the way you build code. You may need to upgrade scripts and dependencies to new versions. Adhoc process are replaced by well documented and automated Maven build processes. Additionally, we have created an accelerator to help with adopting Maven in Oracle FMW 12c
What is often not appreciated is the complexity of existing applications and their dependencies. This consists of the platform configuration required to get the solutions running as expected Discover dependencies such as JDBC Datasource and JMS Modules and apply consistently to environments and deploy platform changes along with code changes. Prompt the user for environment specific configuration when the values are unknown, or even just to confirm the values are still current. These values then enter version control.
Some code needs to be updated to be compliant with new versions. For example, when moving from 11g to 12c, there are new XQuery functionsc which mean updating statements during OSB migration. Java callouts are another key area for investigation as these are highly custom.
When you no longer have access to the people who created the environments, it is unknown what changes have been applied, documentation or documentation is out of date. Discover the existing configuration to get an understanding of the current state. Alternatively, start fresh and ensure a solid architecture for new Oracle EDG compliant environments
Maintain consistency between environments after day one. More often than not, domains stated to go out of sync between environments as pproject requirements came in, new applications were deployed, ad hoc changes took place, and one off changes for a particular environment were trialled. Instead, introduce and consistently use change control, externalise configuration (or see your Oracle FMW domains as code) so they can be quickly duplicated, any configuration drift can be elimatated, and the upgraded domains cn be in a better shape than their predecessors.

Automating the in place upgrade process

The documentation for performing an in place upgrade is thorough but can also feel a bit daunting when you need to read through, then execute against it. It also needs to be noted that not all started versions(the version of the Oracle FMW platform currently) are created ‘equal’ as there have been some quite considerable changes in the products over the years. So, depending on the products installed and the versions, the process can be slightly different to get to the latest version. For example, you can upgrade to Oracle SOA Suite and Business Process Management 12c (12.2.1.4.0) from the following production starting points in 12c: 12.1.3, 12.2.1.2.0 and 12.2.1.3.0. However, you’ll notice that 12.2.1.1.0 is not an option. We believe, creating a list of tasks that need to be completed then keeping track of them is time better spent elsewhere. Besides, we love automating time consuming and error prone processes to make our customer’s lives easier. Partnering with one of our customers, we started to measure the differences between a manual (using the documentation)and our automated approach.

Manual (via documentation) Automatic (via Myst)
The estimated effort to complete an in-place upgrade was 2 weeks. This included taking backups of files and directories, installing the products, upgrading the domain, and rolling out the domain across all the hosts. In-place upgrade complete in 60 minutes across all hosts, covering the same inclusions.
Costly rework due to human error and mis-configuration wastes 25% extra time. Additionally, the staff were able to (or expected) to work on anything else at the same time. Human error and mis-configuration is eliminated by automating 100% of the process. Staff were able to continue other work while monitoring the upgrade process.
Only able to work on one domain at a time. Work in parallel to finish multiple upgrades in the time it takes just one to execute.

Introducing our automated in-place upgrade path for Oracle Fusion Middleware:

  1. Discover Configuration: Intelligently discover your existing domains including, installed products, versions, and system resources such as data sources, JMS configuration, and JCA adapters.
  2. Update Model and Java: Update your model to use the LTS version of the Oracle catalog (12.2.1.4). Also, use this as an opportunity to download the product installers and ensure Java is on the latest update.
  3. Execute in place upgrade action: Run an Update and in place upgrade action. This will perform the necessary steps in the upgrade process such as creating a back up of your domain and existing product directories, installing the new version, running the upgrade assistant (twice if using components), and distributing the new domain to all hosts
  4. Perform Validations: Ensure the domain is up and running on the new version and any smoke tests run correctly.

The video below shows the process in action.

Maybe in-place upgrades may now be the preferred upgrade option for your Oracle Fusion Middleware platform? Get in touch if you'd like to discuss further.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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