Planning your Oracle Database upgrade and support roadmap

planning your oracle database upgrade and support roadmap

What should you be doing with your Oracle Database?

Hundreds of thousands of organisations across a variety of industries use the Oracle Database. This is why the Oracle Database is widely accepted as one of the top software databases in the world, having first started back in 1979.

Since then, the Oracle Database has gone through numerous developments and new versions, including Oracle Database Cloud and Autonomous Databases. There are multiple versions and point releases, all sitting beneath the vast ‘Oracle Database’ heading.

An Oracle Database acts as a repository of data for other systems. What you’re running on an Oracle Database and whether you have any customisations in place for those applications will depend on your needs. You may choose to upgrade your database or leave it as it is. Therefore, no two roadmaps are the same; your timelines and needs will differ to other organisations.

But regardless of your decision, there are still support and maintenance costs to pay. Support costs only go up as time goes on, and if you don’t upgrade to receive the top tier of support, then you’ll be paying high fees for a reduced level of service.

The question then, given the above facts: when is the right time to upgrade or replace your Oracle Database, while keeping in line with organisational needs and budget?

What should your strategy be?

Oracle Database – what support level am I on?[1]

When you begin planning your strategy, first you need to know which support tier you’re on.

Oracle used to release a new version of its database every few years. The latest version would include three to five years of Premier Support which is Oracle’s top tier of support. Then, on the Premier Support expiry date, the product would be moved into Extended Support, the second tier, and its latest database version would instead have Premier Support.

Use the table below to see what level of support you are on (obviously if you are on anything that isn’t listed you will be on Sustaining Support!):

Oracle Database VersionRelease DatePremier ExpiryExtended ExpirySustaining
8.1.7Sep-2000Dec-2004Dec-2006Indefinite
9.2Jul-2002Jul-2007Jul-2010Indefinite
10.1Jan-2004Jan-2009Jan-2012Indefinite
10.2Jul-2005Jul-2010Jul-2013Indefinite
11.1Aug-2007Aug-2012Aug-2015Indefinite
11.2Sep-2009Jan-2015Dec-2020Indefinite
Enterprise Edition 12.1Jun-2013Jul-2018Jul-2022Indefinite
Standard Edition (SE) 12.1Jun-2013Aug-2016N/AIndefinite
Standard Edition One (SE1) 12.1Jun-2013Aug-2016N/AIndefinite
Standard Edition 2 (SE2) 12.1Sep-2015Jul-2018Jul-2022Indefinite
12.2.0.1Mar-2017Nov-2020N/AIndefinite
18cJul-2018Jun-2021N/AIndefinite
19cApr-2019Apr-2024Apr-2027Indefinite

But what do the different support tiers mean?

Premier Support is the standard level of Oracle Support for its latest products – you get access to a helpdesk, security patching, legislative patching, and some reporting – all for the sum of (usually) 22% of your total licensing fee.

If your organisation finds its way onto Extended Support, you have to pay extra on top of your existing support fee – 10% extra in year one, plus an additional 20% in years two and three. Extra costs, but with less support as you only get partial coverage for security and legislative patching.

Then, when Extended Support expires, you move into Sustaining Support, which is the third, final and indefinite level of Oracle Support. You keep the same price from the final year of Extended Support with the 20% increase, plus Oracle’s usual 4% increases year on year. This is where support bottoms out, as on Extended Support you cease to receive any security and legislative patching, and only critical BAU patches are considered.

Whichever tier you’re currently on (or about to slip into) should then decide your upgrade and support strategy, as outlined below:

What to do when on Oracle’s Sustaining Support

On Sustaining Support, you are now paying a huge amount to support your stable Oracle Database but getting very little in return. You will no longer be receiving any security or legislative patches from Oracle, and any BAU patches you need will only be addressed if they are critical (and will usually be answered with a demand that you upgrade the database).

If you are in this bracket (or about to enter it), then you are probably in one of these two situations:

  • You’ve chosen not to upgrade: You may not see any value in the latest version, or the time, effort and resources necessary to complete the upgrade process. In any case, you can make the active decision not to upgrade. Even though Oracle can’t get you to upgrade , it’ll still be getting revenue from your Sustaining Support fees.
  • You cannot upgrade due to system dependencies: For some organisations, their systems are critical and integral to everyday processes. An upgrade would mean downtime of essential systems, or the possibility of breaking connections to other systems connected to the database which are incompatible with later versions.

Recommendation: You need to be actively considering third-party support

Whatever your reasoning for putting off upgrades, Oracle will still pressure you towards one. What you need is a way to cut your support costs and still receive necessary patching. In which case, you should undoubtedly consider third-party support as an alternative. Our third-party support can lower your support costs by 50% and provide a higher level of service – all while remaining on your current database version.

What to do when on Oracle’s Extended Support

With the yearly 10% price increases, Extended is the ticking time bomb of support. It’s Oracle’s way of “encouraging” you towards an upgrade to access Premier Support again. Oracle also relies on you being optimistic about upgrade/implementation times.

In the likely scenario that an upgrade/implementation isn’t completed on schedule, you’ll be moved onto Extended Support until you’re on the new version. The upgrade may last some time, and you may decide to scrap the project altogether. With either of these outcomes, you’ll still be on Extended Support. Every year your support costs will jump while your support service dwindles, and eventually, you’ll be on Sustaining.

Recommendation: You need to be actively considering third-party support

If you are on Extended Support and already feeling the pinch of the 10% rises, you should also consider third-party support as an option. We can cut costs and protect both your budget and your estate. This is especially true if you’re within 12-18 months of moving onto Sustaining Support, as despite best intentions, many organisations in this scenario do not upgrade in time.

What to do when on Oracle’s Premier Support

Unless you’re currently on Oracle Database 19C, you’re effectively facing a ticking time bomb too. Inevitably Oracle Database 20C will arrive, and Oracle will be rubbing its hands together over the size of your next bill – be it an upgrade, or a price increase on Extended Support.

You can switch to third-party support too, even on Premier Support. We can provide the same level of service while saving you over 50% on support costs. You can also benefit from our SLAs. We guarantee both response and resolution times to all issues raised.

While the need to escape Premier Support may not be as great as leaving Extended or Sustaining, there are still definite benefits to be had.

What if I’m about to move to another provider?

You might decide to leave Oracle for another ERP provider. If you’re using SAP Applications on an Oracle Database, you are actively encouraged to do just that.

Remember: Customers running SAP on an Oracle Database are on a deadline.

Oracle made it possible for SAP customers to run their SAP Applications – e.g. ECC6, Business Suite etc. – on Oracle Databases. It enables organisations to use a combination of products rather than having to rely on one provider for everything (and it’s another source of revenue for Oracle).

If your organisation is running SAP Applications on an Oracle Database, you’ll need to move from Oracle Database to SAP HANA before SAP’s S/4HANA deadline in 2030.

Stay supported and cut costs during a migration

A change from the Oracle Database to SAP HANA, or from Oracle to any new provider, is a massive project to undertake. It’s recommended you start sooner rather than later.

However, during the transition to the new system, you’ll be caught in between the two vendors and still expected to pay Oracle’s support fees. You’ll lose money to Oracle even while you’re leaving.

We have had many organisations switch to our third-party support while they transition to another vendor like SAP, or even while they upgrade to Oracle’s Cloud suite. Our services don’t interfere with the migration/move to Cloud at all, but we can save you budget while you do it.

We’ll provide any support and maintenance you require during the move, and you can invest what you’ve saved from Oracle towards your new contract.

How to move your Oracle Database to third-party support

Not every organisation has the same Oracle Database strategy, but every organisation using the system can benefit from switching to third-party support.

Now more than ever, in response to the pandemic and global recession, organisations need to prioritise strategies and value-adding projects that will help them endure these challenging times. We can help you make massive savings on your Oracle Database, freeing up crucial budget at a time you need it most.

Three things you need to know about third-party support for the Oracle Database:

  • We can support any version of the Oracle Database
  • You will save at least 50% on your current support bill by moving to us
  • You will get BAU and security patches for the Oracle Database included

So, if you’re considering moving away from Oracle Support and want to know more about why and how to do this, read our easy-to-use guide: Leaving Oracle Support.


[1] https://www.oracle.com/us/assets/lifetime-support-technology-069183.pdf