Database Software Patching - Oracle 11g

Once the Oracle Database 11g server software is installed,you might want to up grade your data bases to the new release.Before you go live on your 11g production database environment,check for any available patch set release. Patch sets don’t provide additional functionality, but they provide bug fixes and don’t need certification for installation on the system.Similarly,check for any critical path updates,which are the security updates made available by Oracle on a quarterly basis.

Applying critical path updates secures your new data base from any significant security vulnerabilities that were discovered by Oracle.Just as important,you should make sure to check the bug data base and carefully consider critical bugs and pertinent bugs that may cause database outage situations.

New Features in Database Control for Patching

A software patch is a software update to fix defects in the software (bug fixes).A patch is thus supposed to fix bugs but doesn’t involve any new functionality as such.Periodically Oracle releases maintenance releases,which are known as patch sets.Patch sets are a set of integrated product fixes.

For example,if you’re using Oracle Database 11g Release software,a new patch set might be termed Oracle Database 10g,Data base Control and Grid Control provided the crucial patch advisory.However,the Patch Prerequisite Check feature wasn’t available in Database Control.

In Oracle Database 11g,Database Control is enhanced by providing the Parch Prerequisite Check feature.In addition,Data base Control now has the Software Library feature as well.You can stage a patch once in the Software Library and use it for multiple deployments.

Enterprise Manager now searches proactively for patches that are relevant to a specific customer’s environment.Your installation and your database feature usage determine the search for patches.A daily patch job will run to correlate with the patch metadata on MetaLink.

When the patch job finds relevant patches for your environment,it sends you an alert and enables you to apply that patch.As soon as a new one-off patch becomes available,you will be alerted by the proactive MetaLink patch advisory if the patch is relevant to your database environment.Thus,you can count on reliable deployment with this automation of patching.

The Provisioning Pack lets you automatically deploy software, patches, and applications.You can do the following things with the Provisioning Pack:

  • Bare-metal provisioning of operating systems and software images.
  • Cloning installations and software images, for example, RAC or CRS.
  • Patching.
  • Using the Deployment Procedure Manager.

OEM Database Control simplifies the staging and application of new patches and patch sets.Data base Control can automatically stage a new patch set by proactively searching for it and down loading it from Oracle MetaLink to your server directories.Data base Control supports all types of patches,including critical patch updates (CPUs),interim patches, and patch sets.
Here are some of the key features concerning patching in Oracle Database 11g:

  • Live update of MetaLink best practices
  • Support for sudo
  • Support for Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM)–based authentication

In Oracle Data base 10g,Database Control had a limited amount of patch management capabilities.In the Oracle Data base 10g release,you could do only two patch-related activitiesthrough Data base Control:

  • Applying a patch.
  • Viewing a patch cache.

In Oracle Database 11g, you still have the two links that are similar to the patching links in Oracle Database 11g.The Stage Patch link corresponds to the Apply Patch link.The View Patch Cache link is the same as in the previous release. However,the Data base Software Patching page in Oracle Database 11g is much more detailed and offers more tools. On the Data base Control home page,click Soft ware and Support to reach the Data base Software Patching page.You can go to the following pages from that page.

  • Patch Advisor page: The Patch Advisor page shows you the currently applicable patches to your installation.The page contains patch advisories in two sections.
  • Critical security patches: Critical security patches (also called critical patch updates) are periodic patch releases by Oracle to fix major security holes.
  • Patch recommendations by feature:Lists all patch recommendations based on the data base feature.
  • Patch Cache page: Any patches you download from the Oracle Meta Link to the Enterprise Manager are saved in the Enterprise Manager repository.You can view the current patches in the repository by clicking the View Patch Cach link,which takes you to the Patch Cache page.This page shows,in a tabular format,all the patches you downloaded from MetaLink. The advantage of the using the patch cache is that you need to down load a patch only once and stage it to multiple destinations.If you haven’t down loaded a patch,that’s OK too,since Enterprise Manager will automatically down load the necessary path from Meta Link when the patch job runs.
  • Oracle Patch Prerequisite Checker page: Click Path Prerequisites in the Database Software Patching section to get to the Oracle Patch Prerequisite Checker page.Here,you can select the software up dates from Meta Link or the Software Library.You can stage the updates to a staging location and run prerequisite checks on those up dates.
  • Stage Patch page: This page lets you select patches from MetaLink,based on search criteria you provide.
  • Apply Patch page: This page lets you select the patches to apply.You can select patches from Meta Link for the Software Library.

Emergency Hot Patching (Online Database Patching)

You can use the online database patching feature in Oracle Data base 11g to apply emergency,one-off patches to the data base server software, while the database is online.This means you can now patch Oracle executables with no downtime.This feature is especially useful for diagnostic patches.Some one-off patches can be done online now.

The new online patching capability is integrated with OPatch.Besidesinstalling a new patch,you can uninstall a patch without bringing the database offline.Similarly, you can also enable and disable one-off patches online.You can use the online patching capability to patch many one-off patches online.

There is also a sub set of online up gradeable patches for Real Application Cluster environments.Oracle plans eventually to enable the online patching of its periodically released critical path up dates.

Data base Change Management Pack

The Change Management Pack offers you the capability to compare data base object definitions before and after changes in the data bases.

The pack enables you to capture and compare data base object definitions from different points in time.Using the Change Management Pack,you can easily associate application modules with the database schema objects.After an appli cation up grade,for example,
you can assess the impact of the changes on the dependent data base objects so you can modify the application modules in accordance with the changes in the data base schema.In addition,you can track changes to initialization parameters as well as authorization and storage settings.

You can use the following types of sources to compare the database objects:

  • Two databases.
  • Two baselines.
  • A database and a baseline.

Software and Database Cloning

Oracle Data base 11g offers gold-image cloning(gold images are tested and approved software images)of software on the same server or cluster.Note the following points about software cloning:

  • You can clone multiple Oracle homes in parallel.
  • You can pre-patch images to a level you select.
  • You have a choice of the Software Library or the host itself to get the source image.

You can optionally perform configuration tasks following the cloning job,such as creating a database.In Oracle Database 10g, Data base Control offered you only the following two sources for cloning a data base:

  • A running database instance in archivelog or noarchivelog mode.
  • A saved working directory from a previous cloning operation.

In Oracle Data base 11g,Data base Control provides you with vastly enhanced cloning capabilities.You have the following four source types you can choose from now:

  • Copy an online data base files over Oracle Net,without any prior backups.
  • Copy an online database’s files via staging areas.
  • Use RMAN whole-database backups.
  • Use a special backup made by a previous database cloning operation.

You can get to the Clone Oracle Home page by clicking the Software and Support link on the Database Control home page and then clicking the Clone Oracle Home link in the Configuration section.

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