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4 Essential Issues When Upgrading Oracle Database 12c

Author: Mahesh Vanapalli | | January 25, 2022


For more than eight years since its release in 2013, Oracle Database 12c has helped store the enterprise data of businesses around the world, from startups to Fortune 500 firms. However, all good things must come to an end: Oracle has announced that Extended Support for 12c will run out in July 2022.


To avoid falling out of compliance and falling victim to security flaws, 12c customers need to update their Oracle Database version as soon as possible. In this article, we’ll go over 4 questions that you should ask yourself before starting the Oracle Database upgrade process.

  1. Why upgrade Oracle Database 12c?

    The most important reason to upgrade 12c is to enjoy continued access to Oracle support. Premier Support for Oracle Database 12c has already ended, and Extended Support will expire in July 2022. After this date, Oracle is under no obligation to provide further updates for 12c—even if a massive security vulnerability is discovered afterward.

    What’s more, Extended Support is meant to be only a stopgap measure at best, helping organizations fill in the gaps before their next Oracle upgrade. Extended Support requires paying an additional fee, and rates increase every year that you don’t upgrade to a newer Oracle Database version.

    Using an out-of-date version of Oracle Database is highly inadvisable. Beyond unpatched security flaws, you’ll likely be unable to upgrade other IT infrastructure. This is because newer operating systems and hardware likely aren’t certified for use with older versions of Oracle Database.

    Finally, upgrading Oracle Database helps you enjoy access to new features and bug fixes to improve database performance, scalability, availability, and security.


  3. Which Oracle Database version is right for you?

    With the Oracle Database 12c support deadline coming up soon, there are three newer versions to which you can upgrade: 18c, 19c, and 21c.

    For most businesses, the right answer here will be Oracle Database 19c. Let’s take a look at why 18c and 21c are probably suboptimal choices for your organization:

    • Oracle Database 18c has already left the Oracle support window, even before 12c will. Premier Support for 18c ended in June 2021, and Oracle is not offering Extended Support for this version.
    • Oracle Database 21c is considered an “Innovation Release” of Oracle Database, which offers experimental and cutting-edge new features. Oracle only offers two years of Premier Support, and no Extended Support, for Innovation Releases. This means that Premier Support for 21c will expire in April 2024—the same as the 19c expiration date—but without the possibility to purchase Extended Support.

    19c, on the other hand, is a Long-Term Support (LTS) release of Oracle Database. Unlike Innovation Releases, LTS versions offer three years of Extended Support, which means that you can keep using 19c until April 2027.

    For most businesses who prefer software stability, and who don’t need the cutting-edge features of 21c, 19c will be the right choice. Upgrading to 19c gives you the flexibility of multiple options as you approach the Premier Support deadline in 2024. You can either upgrade to the next version of Oracle Database (expected to be 23c) at that time, or you can purchase Extended Support to give yourself some breathing room.


  5. Which upgrade method will you choose?

    Oracle database upgrades are complex and technically challenging endeavors. In particular, there’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to the right database upgrade method. The factors influencing your decision here may include:

    • The Oracle database versions that you’re migrating to and from
    • Your choice of operating systems (OS) and hardware
    • The amount of data to migrate
    • Data transformations such as encryption, compression, or changes to the character set
    • The permissible amount of downtime

    Most businesses will be able to migrate to Oracle Database 19c using a direct upgrade with the Database Upgrade Assistant (DUA). Other alternatives include:

    • The dbupgrade command-line utility
    • Transportable tablespaces (i.e. copying tablespaces from one database to another)
    • Importing and exporting data with Oracle Data Pump

    If you have questions about which upgrade method is right for you, speak with a skilled, experienced Oracle database managed services partner.


  7. What does the upgrade process look like?

    The process of upgrading Oracle Database 12c will look slightly different for each customer. Importantly, the actual database upgrade is only one stage in the process. In general, you can expect to see most or all of the steps below:

    • Road mapping and planning for the upgrade.
    • Verifying your Oracle environment (e.g. health checks, certifications, software versions, etc.).
    • Installing Oracle Database 19c into a new Oracle home directory.
    • Creating a container database (CDB) if you select a multitenant architecture.
    • Upgrading Oracle Database using one of the methods discussed above.
    • Performing post-upgrade administrative tasks.


In this article, we’ve gone over a number of important concerns when upgrading Oracle Database 12c. There’s just one question left: who will your Oracle Database migration partner be?

For many businesses, the right answer is Datavail. As an Oracle Partner with 17 specializations, Datavail is ready to assist businesses with their Oracle software needs—everything from migration and maintenance to regular health checks and backup recovery.

To learn how we helped one client with their recent Oracle Database 19c migration, check out our case study “Fast Food Chain Gets a Refresh with Oracle Database Upgrade.” You can also see our list of Oracle Database consulting and managed services, or contact our team of Oracle experts for a chat about your business needs and objectives.

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