Upgrade with Less Downtime

You can upgrade your Oracle Database with less downtime. With the release of AutoUpgrade 21.2 we added the fast deploy option. It allows you to run the preupgrade fixups while the database is still online. Only the actual upgrade will now require downtime.

The Usual Upgrade

When you upgrade the usual way, i.e., using AutoUpgrade in deploy mode, then you:

  1. Analyze the database – java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode analyze This is non-intrusive and doesn’t change anything on the database. You get a report, and you can fix any issue that AutoUpgrade can’t fix for you.
  2. Upgrade the database – java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode deploy The database is analyzed again. Based on the findings of the analysis, a set of preupgrade fixups are executed. Finally, the database upgrade takes place.

Best practice is to use AutoUpgrade in deploy mode

During step #2, the database is not available – you have downtime. Even though the database was analyzed previously, it will be re-analyzed to catch any new issues. This is the safest approach. From the first analysis (in step #1) to the second analysis (in step #2), potentially new issues can occur.

We talked to a few of our customers who are really trying to reduce the downtime of an upgrade. For them – every second counts and has a significant impact on their business. They asked us to make the upgrade faster.

Fast Deploy Mode

One customer suggested moving the final analysis and preupgrade fixup outside of the downtime window. Shortly before the downtime would start, they would like to run an analysis and the preupgrade fixups. Next, they would wait until the downtime window starts and do only the upgrade.

I must stress; there is a risk that a new issue pops up between the fixups and the upgrade – but this one customer is willing to take the risk. In exchange, they will get upgrades with less downtime.

We call this approach fast deploy. The procedure is:

  1. Analyze the database – java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode analyze
  2. Run the preupgrade fixups – java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode fixups
  3. Now downtime starts
  4. Upgrade the database – java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode upgrade

To reduce downtime use the new fast deploy mode - with increased risk

Fast deploy requires AutoUpgrade 21.2 or newer. The target database release can be any of the target releases already supported by AutoUpgrade, meaning 12.2 or higher.

Here are the details of the feature – from the AutoUpgrade change log:

This feature enables DBA’s to run the prechecks and prefixups while the database is still online and then run deploy to complete the upgrade. Once the fixups have been run on the source database, DBA can then skip the prechecks and prefixup stages and proceed directly to the phases that follow for example: Database can be online: java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode fixups -config yourconfig Upgrade time: java -jar autoupgrade.jar -mode upgrade -config yourconfig The -mode upgrade command proceeds directly to the phases that follow the prechecks and prefixups stages during deploy. The main goal of this feature is to reduce database downtime by running the fixups when your database is online and open for business and then skipping the fixups when your database is offline. See Oracle documentation for further details.

Conclusion

If your application is really sensitive to downtime, you can now upgrade with less downtime using fast deploy. It introduces a slight risk that the preupgrade analyze will not detect an issue that will cause troubles later on. You have to choose whether that risk is acceptable to you.

Our recommendation is to use the old approach – AutoUpgrade in deploy mode. Consider only fast deploy if downtime really hurts.

If you are interested in seeing which other things got put into AutoUpgrade 21.2, you can check the change log.

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