Rolling Upgrades of Oracle Database on Exadata Cloud Service

If you want to minimize the downtime needed to upgrade your Oracle Database 19c on Exadata Cloud Service, one of the options is to use rolling upgrades. Our good friends in the Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA) team recently posted a very good MOS note with step-by-step instructions.

Exadata Cloud Database 19c Rolling Upgrade With DBMS_ROLLING (Doc ID 2832235.1)

What Is Rolling Upgrade?

A rolling upgrade uses a standby database called a logical standby database.

A logical standby database is initially created as an identical copy of the primary database, but it later can be altered to have a different structure. The logical standby database is updated by executing SQL statements. The flexibility of a logical standby database lets you upgrade Oracle Database software (patch sets and new Oracle Database releases) and perform other database maintenance in rolling fashion with almost no downtime.

Logical Standby Databases, Data Guard Concepts and Administration 21c

With almost no downtime means the time it takes to perform a Data Guard switchover. Typically, that is a few minutes. If your application is configured properly, the downtime can be hidden from the end-user. The downtime will appear as a brown-out where the session will be waiting for the database to complete the switchover before continuing.

Rodrigo explains how the process works in this video from our webinar How Low Can You Go? Zero Downtime Operations

Pro tip: The process uses a so-called Transient Logical Standby or TLS, so you can find additional information by searching for that term as well.

Can I use rolling upgrade on my database?

Rolling upgrades using DBMS_ROLLING requires the Active Data Guard Option which is included in your ExaCS license.

In addition, there are requirements to the data types in your database and a few other prerequisites. Check the documentation for details.

In this video, Roy explains how to determine the readiness of your Oracle Database. The video is also from our webinar How Low Can You Go? Zero Downtime Operations.

Other Options for Minimizing Downtime During Upgrades

If your database is not capable of performing rolling upgrades, you can still do something to minimize downtime. You can try to tune the upgrade itself or use Oracle GoldenGate. Both options are described in detail in our webinar How Low Can You Go? Zero Downtime Operations. You can flip through the slides or watch the complete recording.

If you decide to go with Oracle GoldenGate, and since your database is in OCI, you can benefit from the OCI GoldenGate service. Now, you may think: GoldenGate, that sounds expensive! But it is not. The new OCI GoldenGate service comes at a completely new price model, which is very attractive for shorter use cases like upgrades and migrations. You don’t pay a license for the source and target CPUs but instead for usage of CPUs on the GoldenGate hub itself. And you only pay by the hour.


Finally, just a kudos to my colleague Sebastian Alasino for putting together a very good, easy-to-follow MOS note.

Here is a demo of rolling upgrades (not on ExaCS – but a lot is identical)

Happy upgrading!

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