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Oracle Database Upgrades Faster and Safer in Amazon Web Services

AWS quick provisioning capabilities redefine Oracle upgrades

Oracle database upgrades are a stressful exercise. Normally you need to backup production database, upgrade database software, then run database scripts that will upgrade dictionary. Once it is all done and success is confirmed you can start using upgraded database. If something goes wrong then you rely on backups to restore to a  previous state. In other words, there is complete dependency on backups and restore success if things go wrong.

AWS gives us possibility to quickly and cheaply create new database instances where an upgrade can be tested. We can also instantly create completely new database environment as replacement for regular backups during actual upgrade. This environment is ready to take over the role of main database in case upgrade fails, thus sparing us time and stress of restore process. Last but not least, we can quickly commission and decommission as many servers as we need to comfortably complete upgrade exercise. This is usually not easily achieved in normal circumstances where new servers and storage provisioning requires long lead times and lengthy discussions with various departments.

For purposes of this article we will suppose that our main, production Oracle database server already runs in AWS.  In order to safely test database upgrade we need to create another instance as copy of main database. This can be done very quickly by starting another AWS instance, copying Oracle binaries from main database, then performing RMAN duplicate or similar to copy database files to our test instance. Now we can test an Oracle upgrade from 10g to 11i,  for example. Once testing is successfully completed we will shut down this instance and "decommission" it i.e. completely stop further charges.

When we decide to perform actual production database upgrade steps would be:

- create an AWS instance as copy of database to be upgraded ( start an AWS instance, copy database files ); test if copy is functional

- perform main database upgrade

- test

- if testing is successful, continue using main database; "decommission" auxiliary database server; our upgrade is completed

- if testing is not successful then failover to database copy; we are safely aborting upgrade process and avoiding potentially lengthy and risky restore

AWS gives us possibility to quickly and cheaply create and decommission additional copies of main database, thus enabling more comfortable, less risky operations on main databases.

More Stories By Ranko Mosic

Ranko Mosic, BScEng, is specializing in Big Data/Data Architecture consulting services ( database/data architecture, machine learning ). His clients are in finance, retail, telecommunications industries. Ranko is welcoming inquiries about his availability for consulting engagements and can be reached at 408-757-0053 or [email protected]

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