To 12 or not to 12.2, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.
When I read in Oracle Forums or when I go through the twitter timeline, I often find messages about bugs and problems regarding the new Oracle 12.2 release. Most of the writers complain about problems they have encountered while others are relieved they did not yet upgrade and plan to migrate the far future.
Something disturbed me about that, but I couldn’t quite figure what it was. Mobiliar has already upgraded the whole Oracle landscape to 12.1. Now we are moving straight forward to 12.2. For us it was a natural decision, but being confronted with different opinions made me reflect about the way we got through to our decision.
Last week I talked with my manager and I announced him that I was planning to write a blog entry about the reasons why we decided to be one of the first customers to go to 12.2. I told him I had the feeling that the mindset outside Mobiliar is very different.
He smiled and told me that some years ago he had heard about such opinions, too, like waiting for a stable release. He looked at me and said, “The person who told me those things is sitting in this room … and it’s not me!”. I looked at him and started to remember. The upgrade to the first 11.1 release six years ago gave us some heavy headaches. I remember at that time I didn’t like the decision to move to a new release so early at all. And I was not willing to ever move early to another release again.
I began to struggle even more. What happened, why did I change my opinion so straight? Now, ten days after I regathered my thoughts and I am ready to share them with others, hoping to start an interesting debate.
The big difference between the upgrade to 11.1 and now is that three years ago we joined the customer reference program for the 12.1 upgrade. We had just completed our participation in the 12.1 beta program. At that time the reason behind the decision to upgrade to 12.1 was to use the “Oracle in Memory (OIM)” feature for a big project. And as OIM was available only with 12.1, we didn’t quite have so many choices.
Beginning to collaborate with Mike Dietrich opened our eyes to a wide world of new possibilities.
The first thing we experienced was that Oracle was (and still is) very interested in feedback from their customers. They have their own testing environments and procedures, but they are unable to cover all the different configurations and installations customers have in their environments. It often happens that customers intend to use a feature in a different way than Oracle itself has planned it. Getting this information improves Oracle’s knowledge and reduces their blind spot about customer’s behavior.
On the other side, it’s a big opportunity for our company. Mike and his team keep us informed about any new findings, provide us with some very useful information, keep us from falling into known pitfalls. And when we run into a problem (yes, it might happen from time to time 🙂 ) they take care about it and help us to find solutions and workarounds, providing us with direct contact to the product managers and developers. Something beyond imagination for a small dba team like ours, working for an insurance company focused only on the Swiss market.
Yesterday Alain received the following message regarding an open bug we are facing with Rman directly from the responsible product manager: “Alain, I just happened to be checking the status of your SRs, For this one: (RMAN catalog issue) the patch just came available for download 3 minutes ago”. Unfortunately the patch did not solve the problem yet (we’ll announce it on Twitter as soon as the issue will be resolved). But being in such close contact with Oracle and seeing that someone “cares” gives us a very good feeling and makes us see things from a different angle.
About a month ago, Mike Dietrich came to Mobiliar for a workshop with my team. He provided us with vital information and we tested the upgrade to 12.2 on a test environment, composed by one CDB and about 100 PDBs (this is the way we are mapping microservices here at Mobiliar). We encountered many problems. Some self-created (like too little space in the file system the logs were written to), but also some imperfections in the software. Well, it was a great feeling seeing Mike taking snapshots during the installation (no it is not a new Oracle functionality, he really took snapshots with his phone 🙂 ) and promised to forward the information he collected directly to the developers in San Francisco. And he was happy, too, as this scenario had never been tested and the installation logs gave him a new vision of the upgrade procedure and thus new suggestions to improve it.
From those two examples You see how we are living a win-win situation. Oracle gests some information directly from customers to correct issues in the code, and we have an open road directly to development. I’m sure, as our micorservice implemetation is a special configuration, sooner or later we would have run in exactly in the problems we experienced with Mike. Now we know that the issue is addressed, and it will certainly be solved (even only with a workaround) before going live on production. We gained a valuable experience, we will avoid known errors during the go live.
Under this new light we see that the risk of changing to the new version lowers. And as we are really interested in the new 12.2 multitenancy features (read more on Alain’s article) we decided to make the move to 12.2.
Have we given You the image of living in a wonderful world ? Unfortunately not entirely. We are living a privileged situation. For other customers (and for us too on smaller problems) we have to deal with Oracle Support Services. And this is not always easy. Not every Service Requests is satisfying us, and it happens that we have to request support management attention. My suggestion here is not to surrender, but involve Your Sales Consultant, explaining the problems and asking them to support You with Oracle Support (pardon the pun). Or You can try to participate actively at Mike Dietrich’s Blog. A lot people is willing to help and take care of customer’s needs at Oracle, just try. In the same way we will try to participate to the community in a fashion of “give and take”, and share our little experience from the pages of this blog.