Sunday, February 04, 2007

Applying O/S Patches to Apps Environments

Operating system (O/S) vendors often recommend applying latest patches or a specific patch to fix a specific issue you are facing, so you may wonder if these O/S patches could possibly have a negative impact on your E-Business Suite environment.

Unfortunately, it is not unknown for an O/S patch to have an impact on Oracle software. For example, see:

So, how do you identify and mitigate potential risks?

E-Business Suite Certified with Top Level O/S Versions

In general, Apps 11i performs certifications with only the top level operating system version (Solaris 9 or AIX 5.3 for example). Specific operating system requirements such as kernel settings or O/S patch requirements are documented in:

  • The platform specific release notes
  • Certify
  • Metalink notes relating to eBiz itself or the technology components
Oracle Support would not normally discourage customers from applying any additional O/S patches recommended by O/S vendors unless specific issues have been found and documented that affects Oracle software.

Test Thoroughly Prior to Production Rollouts

As with any patching activity, Oracle recommends that you perform sufficient testing in a representative TEST system prior to implementing in PRODUCTION, to ensure there are no issues introduced by any such changes.

Minimizing O/S Patching Risks

So, what proactive steps can you take to minimize the risk? Before applying an O/S patch:
  1. Search Metalink for any known issues.
  2. If you have any specific concerns, pose the question in the Oracle Forums to see if your peers have any experiences they can share.
  3. Search your O/S vendor's knowledge base and forums for any reported issues.

It is also prudent to have a tested emergency rollout strategy in place to allow you to recover if an issue is only found once implemented in the PRODUCTION environment.

Getting Help with O/S Patch Problems

If you are unfortunate enough to experience problems after applying an O/S patch (hopefully in your TEST environment), raise a Service Request with the appropriate Oracle Support team to get help with identifying the root cause of your issue. Oracle Support will likely expect you to work primarily with your O/S vendor in the initial stages of such an investigation, so you should certainly be engaging your O/S vendor support team as part of the problem resolution process

In conclusion, any change introduces risks as well as the benefits. Planning, research, a healthy dose of paranoia -- and as much testing as possible -- will allow you to minimize and mitigate the risks involved with applying O/S patches, giving the best chance of a successful implementation.

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