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What Happens When an Oracle Database Version Reaches End of Life?

Author: Zane Warton | 5 min read | September 13, 2023

Many vital enterprise systems in production rely on Oracle databases. But what happens when your database version reaches end of life? If you’re using,,, or 18c, this is a question you need to answer by the following dates:

  • Dec 31, 2023
  • March 31, 2022
  • Dec 31, 2023
  • 18c: Jun 30, 2021

Whether you’re facing an upcoming end of life date or have already passed it for your Oracle databases, it’s important to understand what happens if you put off upgrading.

Oracle Support Cycles

Understanding Oracle’s support cycle for Oracle databases helps you plan for end-of-life dates. Oracle offers four ‘Lifetime Support‘ service options for Oracle databases, wherein ‘lifetime’ refers to the designated life cycle of the software product, along with one market-driven support option:

Premier Support – offers comprehensive software upgrades and maintenance services for five years after the program’s general availability.

Fee-based Extended – Support provides upgrade and maintenance services beyond the five-year Premier window.

Fee-based Sustaining – Support services are also available for the entire duration of your use of the product, regardless of its version number. However, this level of service does not have access to Oracle’s Platinum services, nor will the company certify that fixes will integrate with third-party products.

‘Error Correction Support’ – included in both Premier and Extended service packages and consists of the patches and certifications developed and issued within those time windows.

Market-Driven Support – available for Oracle users who could not upgrade from the 12.2 version before its EOL occurred. This service closes some of the support gaps they were experiencing, although it doesn’t replicate the support available through an upgrade process. It does provide temporary fixes for Severity 1 and Severity 2 service requests and is available through the end of 2023.

Consequences of an Outdated Oracle Database

While there are significant concerns about lost productivity during an upgrade period, they pale when considering the risks incurred by continuing to rely on an outdated database. Running an end of support Oracle Database version can have several consequences:

  1. Security vulnerabilities: Outdated versions may have known security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors. This puts your data at risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential financial and reputational damage.
  2. Lack of bug fixes: Older versions may not receive regular bug fixes and patches, meaning that any existing software issues or bugs will persist. This can result in performance problems, system instability, or functional limitations that can hinder business operations.
  3. Compatibility issues: Newer applications and technologies may not be compatible with outdated database versions. This can limit your ability to integrate with modern systems, impede data sharing, and hinder the adoption of new technologies, potentially affecting business agility and innovation.
  4. Compliance challenges: Many industries and regulatory frameworks require organizations to maintain up-to-date software versions to ensure data security and regulatory compliance. Running an outdated Oracle Database version may put you at risk of non-compliance, leading to legal and financial consequences.
  5. Missed features and enhancements: Newer Oracle Database versions often introduce advanced features, performance improvements, and enhancements that can enhance efficiency, scalability, and productivity. By not upgrading, you miss out on these benefits and the potential competitive advantages they can provide.
  6. Limited support: Oracle provides support services, including technical assistance, bug fixes, and security updates, for specific versions and periods. Using an outdated version may result in limited or no support from Oracle, making it difficult to address issues or receive timely assistance when needed.
  7. Cost: Older versions typically become more expensive to manage and maintain as time goes on.

To mitigate these consequences, it is crucial to regularly update your Oracle Database to supported versions. Learn more about planning your Oracle upgrades in our white paper “How to Handle Oracle 11g, 12c, and 18c End of Life.”

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