The 20c Database Upgrade Mystery

In Cloud, Databases, DBA, Oracle database on April 27, 2020 at 14:31

Oracle Database 20c is available only for preview. It is not available for production use. Upgrades to or from Oracle Database 20c are not supported.

So, upgrades are not supported but there exists an Oracle Database 20c Upgrade Guide. The 20c upgrade pdf file is 461 pages long!

Let me shed some light on this “mystery”.

As of today, April 27th 2020 (Oracle Database 19c is today 1 year old on Linux), Oracle 20c is only available from the Oracle Public Cloud in preview mode. To try out this 20c preview, you will need an Oracle Public Cloud tenancy with cloud credits (paid or promotional), as the DBCS instance will require an OCI Compute VM. And, by the way, 20c does *not* run on Exadata.

Once 20c becomes generally available also in non-preview only mode, upgrades will be also available.

You can perform a direct upgrade to the new release from the following releases:

• 19c
• 18c
• 12.2.0

Here is what we need to know about compatibility:

– Before upgrading to Oracle Database 20c, you must set the COMPATIBLE initialization parameter to at least 12.2.0
– In Oracle Database 20c, when the COMPATIBLE initialization parameter is not set in your parameter file, the COMPATIBLE parameter value defaults to 20.0.0
– Installing earlier releases of Oracle Database on the same computer that is running Oracle Database 20c can cause issues with client connections

The most important point about the 20c architecture is that starting with the first release of Oracle Database 20c, non-CDB Oracle Database upgrades to non-CDB architecture are desupported. Meaning you need a container and your data will be in a pluggable database.

Starting with Oracle 19c you can have up to 3 pluggable databases (PDBs) per container database (CDB) without requiring additional multitenant license. See page 11 of Oracle Database Licensing Information User Manual for all the details (it is a 361 page pdf file).

So, when upgrading to 20c, we have 2 options:

Option 1: Convert the non-CDB to a PDB before upgrade

With this option, you plug in the non-CDB Oracle Database release to the same release CDB. For example, plug in a non-CDB Oracle Database Release 19c into an Oracle Database 19c release CDB. Finish converting the non-CDB Oracle Database to a PDB. Then, upgrade the entire CDB, with its PDBs, to Oracle Database 20c.

Option 2: Plug in the non-CDB, upgrade, and finish converting the non-CDB to a PDB after upgrade

With this option, you plug in a non-CDB Oracle Database release to an OracleDatabase 20c CDB. Upgrade the plugged-in non-CDB Oracle Database to Oracle Database 20c. Then, finish converting the non-CDB Oracle Database to a PDB.

Here is what you need to know about the DBUA and the Oracle home:

– Starting with Oracle Database 20c, Database Upgrade Assistant (DBUA) is replaced by the AutoUpgrade utility
– Starting with Oracle Database 20c, the default network administration directory changes from the previous default in the local Oracle home, Oracle_home/network (for example, /u01/app/oracle/product/19.1.0/dbhome_1/network), to a new location.
– The new default location is the shared Oracle Base Home, in the path ORACLE_BASE/ homes/HOME_NAME/network/admin
– Starting with Oracle Database 20c, an Oracle Database installation configures all Oracle Database homes in read-only mode by default

And here is what you need to know before the upgrade about security and the init.ora parameters:

– Starting with Oracle Database 20c, the data types DBMS_CRYPTO_TOOLKIT_TYPES and package DBMS_CRYPTO_TOOLKIT are desupported
– Desupport of IGNORECASE parameter for passwords: starting in Oracle Database 20c, the IGNORECASE parameter for the orapwd file is desupported and all newly created password files are case-sensitive
– Desupport of DISABLE_DIRECTORY_LINK_CHECK: the DISABLE_DIRECTORY_LINK_CHECK parameter is desupported, with no replacement

Further info and links were listed in detail by the King of Database Upgrades Mike Dietrich – his blog is dedicated to Oracle Database upgrades!

Now, how about long term support? Do you care only about LTS database releases when planning upgrades? As Tim Hall says: “It’s important to check out what is happening in the 20c release, because it may alter how you use the earlier releases now. There is no point launching into a new development using a feature that is about to disappear. Remember Oracle Streams anyone?” Yes, indeed Tim: Streams, Advanced Replication… I rather be on the latest release and use the new features – live and learn…

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