SysOps Automation

Oracle Patch Management | Benefits of Automating Oracle Patches

An IT infrastructure’s database represents one of the core pillars of a business’s dataset management for its digital presence. This is hardly a big surprise considering the DBMS market continues to grow with an annual CAGR of 17.1% at a value of $64.8 billion in 2020. dbPaaS (Database Platform as a Service) is highly responsible for these growth rates. According to a survey on Statista, Oracle is the most popular DBMS (Database Management System) globally.

Similar to Server Patch Management, Oracle users are at risk of significant security vulnerabilities and threats without the latest security patches. It’s crucial to apply application and server patches once they become available to ensure adequate security and patch software vulnerabilities.

In some organizations, the complexity of the environment or production requirements may prevent the systematic application of every security patch to all production systems on an ongoing basis. As a result, you will need an automated Oracle patch management solution to automate the patching of security vulnerabilities.

Oracle Patch Management Professionals looking at computer

This article walks you through Oracle patch management, the benefits of automating it, and how you can leverage it for your business.

Introducing Oracle DBMS and Patch Management

Oracle DB is a fundamental part of the IT infrastructure of many businesses. It is one of the most widely used and trusted database engines for storing, retrieving and organizing data. Large, multinational enterprises manage and process their data across networks using the relational database architecture of Oracle DB.

Patch management is one of the top challenges that companies face these days. When dealing with enterprise data, manual patching can become a time-consuming, draining procedure considering the number of patches that need to be applied. Keeping track of current patch levels and testing the patches are essential for maintaining a compliant database environment.

Organizations may fail to timely apply security patches to all production systems on an ongoing basis because of the complexity of their environments or production requirements. Therefore, it’s crucial to take advantage of IT automation solutions to automate the process of applying patches to your Oracle DB.

The Challenges of Oracle Patch Management

According to a Ponemon survey, 60% of security incidents stem from vulnerabilities that went unpatched. Even with that, manual processes still pose a challenge for 52% of organizations in responding to vulnerabilities. To make the situation more precarious, incorrectly configured databases, often on cloud storage, account for 36% of all error-related breaches.

Oracle releases patches each quarter for different versions of its products. It consists primarily of patches to address security vulnerabilities and is known as the “Critical Patch Update” by Oracle. Oracle recommends updating all databases to the latest patches as a security precaution.

The Oracle patch process can be time-consuming, and complex, involving numerous manual processes, dependent on multiple stakeholders, and requiring disabling integrated services. When you factor in the increased downtime for businesses, choosing an automated solution might be the best approach to patching your database.

In essence, automated Oracle patch management is a comprehensive solution for automating Oracle database lifecycle management processes for database administrators, system administrators, and application developers. The process helps to reduce manual and time-consuming processes such as patching, upgrading, provisioning, auditing, change management, and configuration management.

One key challenge that most System Administrators face is separating functional and security patches. In fact, 79% of respondents in a 2017 0patch survey admit that decoupling functional patches from security patches would speed up the patch management process.

Before applying patches, you want to make sure they are compatible with other systems and tools within your IT environment. For instance, a patch management solution may only support Windows, whereas your infrastructure runs on Linux, Mac, or Unix operating systems.

Additionally, 58% of organizations have legacy systems. Some of these legacy systems may be vulnerable to patches, so you should evaluate and update all systems within your network.

Benefits of Automating Oracle Patches

Reduced Risk and Better Security

Since unpatched systems lead to numerous security breaches, automating Oracle patches increases security. The consequences of failing to patch can be devastating to any business. With data breaches and cyberattacks on the rise, how can businesses stay compliant, relevant, and secure in an increasingly complex regulatory environment?

The answer to this is automation. By automating IT infrastructure, you can reduce the workload of DB admins when managing databases and supporting ERP applications. Most importantly, you can enable automated testing of patches for compatibility and vulnerability issues, leverage rollback features, decouple functional patches from security patches, and ultimately reduce risk.

Rollback and Unpatch functionality

According to a 2017 0patch survey, 88% of system administrators say they’ll roll out patches more frequently if there is an option to roll back or un-patch, if necessary. The last thing you need is a patch that causes incompatibilities or vulnerabilities to other systems. This is an additional benefit of automated patch management.

Though you may detect some of these issues during testing, there may be faulty patches from time to time. That’s why a rollback feature is crucial. With automated patch management for your Oracle systems, you can return your systems to their previous state before the patch application. Be sure to select patch software that supports this feature.

Access to New Features and Better Performance

A patch may come with new features and improvements for the current system. These patches include extra features, increased performance, security fixes, and recommendations. However, most professionals prefer to decouple security patches and functional patches.

That’s because most of them believe that new software may introduce bugs or that existing patches cannot be installed since they are bundled with legacy software they can’t upgrade. An automated patch management solution can be vital to separating security and functional patches, enabling you to fix security vulnerabilities without introducing new bugs into your system.

Increased Productivity

With automated patch management, you can rapidly deploy security patches and reduce the workload on the Database Administrator and System Administrators. Similarly, it reduces the risk of system crashes and downtime, so your team can continue working uninterrupted. That means they can focus on more productive activities rather than spend a high number of work hours addressing or fixing a vulnerability.

Increased Visibility

Manual administering patches can leave you with little information about your entire database and ERP system. How can you guarantee the security or performance of your Oracle DB without complete visibility? An automated patch management solution gives all stakeholders comprehensive visibility of overall application resources, enabling easy tracking and auditing of all Oracle systems. Similarly, it’ll help you run regular checks for compliance with regulations like the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Australian Privacy Act 1988.

Less Downtime

Many small and large businesses have to stop and start their databases when applying patches manually. The cause may be misconfiguration, breaking changes, and improper patching. By automating DB patch management, you can deploy a tested and consistent patching process that reduces the amount of downtime your IT infrastructure experiences.

Automate Oracle Patch Management With Attune

Maintaining up-to-date, secure, and compliant Oracle database systems requires highly specialized skills and a working knowledge of the businesses’ integrated applications. An automated Oracle patch management solution should appeal to any organization that manages business-critical data and integrated applications.

Attune orchestrates the Oracle patch management processes and the integrated application data services, enabling immediate patch management and deployment. Test the patch process in a pre-production environment before rolling out the proven process in your production environment.

Oracle Patch Management: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps of patching in the Oracle database?

Patching an Oracle database consists of numerous steps:

  • Review patch documentation, back up the database, and schedule downtime for patching.
  • Get the necessary patches from the Oracle Support page.
  • Ensure the database matches the prerequisites and compatibility criteria before deploying the fixes.
  • To apply patches to the database software, use Oracle OPatch or Database Upgrade Assistant.
  • Execute post-patching scripts, test for regressions, and ensure that patches are successfully applied.
  • Use any necessary interim patches or upgrades to address particular issues or vulnerabilities.
  • Test the patched database to confirm it works properly and fulfils performance requirements.

Why is Oracle patching important?

Oracle patching is crucial for several reasons.

  • Security: Patches frequently include remedies for security vulnerabilities that attackers may use to obtain unauthorised access to the database or jeopardise data integrity.
  • Stability: Patches fix bugs, malfunctions, and performance issues that might affect the database’s stability and dependability, ensuring seamless operation and minimising downtime.
  • Compliance: Many sectors and regulatory agencies need organisations to keep their software up to date with the most recent security updates to comply with data protection and privacy rules.
  • Support: Oracle provides support and assistance to clients with active support contracts, although this help is subject to utilising supported software versions and implementing suggested updates.

By lowering the risk of security breaches, outages, and fines for noncompliance, Oracle patching assists businesses in improving security, stability, and compliance with their database systems.

How to run a patch in Oracle?

To apply an Oracle patch, follow these steps:

  • Download the patch: Download the necessary patch from the Oracle Support website or the My Oracle Support (MOS) portal.
  • Check Compatibility: Verify the patch is compatible with your Oracle Database version and platform.
  • Backup Database: Before implementing the patch, backup your database to avoid any unexpected problems.
  • Apply Patch: To apply the patch to the Oracle software binaries, use the appropriate patching tool supplied by Oracle, such as Oracle Database OPatch.
  • Run Pre-Installation Steps: Follow any pre-installation instructions in the patch documentation or README file.
  • Apply Patch: Run the patch installer or use the given commands to apply the patch, as instructed in the patch documentation.
  • Post-Installation Steps: Once patched, do any post-installation procedures specified in the patch documentation.
  • Verify Patching: Ensure that the patch was successfully applied and that the database functions properly.

How to find the Oracle patch?

Here are the steps to find Oracle patches:

  • Log in to the My Oracle Support site with your Oracle account credentials.
  • Once logged in, navigate to the “Patches & Updates” area. You may locate this under the “Support” page or by typing “Patches & Updates” into the search box.
  • Use the search criteria to refine your patch search results. You can search for a product, release version, platform, or patch number.
  • Examine the list of available patches that meet your search parameters. Each patch will provide information such as the patch number, release date, description, and download link.
  • Choose the appropriate patch(es) from the list and save them to your local system.

Before deploying the patch, study the patch documentation and readme files to guarantee compatibility with your Oracle Database version and platform.

Post Written by Alexander Fashakin

Hi there, I am a programmer, content writer and aspiring product growth manager. I love learning about exciting new products and technologies.


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