Kevin Kempf's Blog

November 5, 2010

The 11i Patch Wizard

Filed under: 11i — kkempf @ 7:41 pm

Getting to the bottom of the “to do” list for 2010

 

Wizard.. or dunce?

I’d been meaning to take a look at the patch wizard for 11i for a long time.  It’s been one of those things which Steven Chan had repeatedly mentioned on his blog, yet sounded too good to be true.  This week, we completed a major year long project and I found some free time to take a closer look.
My curiosity had been especially peaked after seeing that there was a special patch for patch wizard which would tell you if your current environment was in line with th 11.5.10.2 extended support patching baseline.   I’ll get on my soapbox for one moment and ask, again in vain, why Oracle elected to dish out a rag tag list of oddball patches required for extended support instead of just issuing 11.5.10.3 as a neat bundle containing these.  I’m going to put my neck out and say the vast majority of Oracle Ebusiness Suite installs are going to fall into this 11i extended support model, and it would have been really  convenient for that vast majority of their Ebusiness customers.  Incidentally, Oracle annoyingly keeps the R12 adoption numbers pretty secret, with good reason.  Based on numerous conversations with consulting outfits  and even some “off the record” Oracle people, the uptake on R12 is slow (usually this is attributed to the global economic glut, partnered with no compelling business reason to move to R12).

To be honest, I didn’t even know how to run this wizard, or where it resided, so I began by watching an excellent overview video from Oracle.  It’s really straightforward; the only way my experience differed from the video was that (despite the fact that I have proxy server internet access) my OAM and EM can never seem to get out of our firewall.  This meant I had to go manually pull the 250mb  Infobundle file and land it on my 11i application server.

A quick overview on Setup

There’s really not a lot to be said here, the video explains pretty much everything you need to know.  I went into patch manager via OAM:

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Then started at the patch wizard preferences screen:

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Manually Install the Patch Information Bundle

I have no idea why, but OAM and EM 11g can’t figure out how to get to Metalink/MOS from my servers.  I give it the proxy name, validate a test successfully, but when it comes down to crunch time, they always say something to the effect of  “cannot find host”.  So I had to manually land the patch information bundle on my server (in my case, in /scratch/patches11i/prod/patchwizard).  If you find yourself in this situation, you can just download the file from the world’s slowest support site here.

Now, from the main Patch Wizard screen, click on the Tasks Icon next to Recommend/Analyze Patches, and from this screen, click on the “Upload patch information bundle (no analysis)” radio button, then hit OK.  

Upload Patch Information Bundle

 This should push the data from the bundle via concurrent request:

Concurrent request running in forms

Create a Recommendation

Once the patch information bundle is loaded, it’s a trivial feat to actually run the “recommendation” job.  From the main screen, once again select the Tasks icon next to Recommend/Analyze Patches and this time click the flashlight next to “Using Patch Filter” and select “New Code Levels” and hit accept.  This also runs a long time, it felt like hours, at least the first time.

Results, Take I

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The first time I received results, they were totally $&!*.  It told me I needed to apply 348000 (11.5.10.2) and a whole host of other patches which I’m certain have already been applied:

You are an AWFUL DBA!

I immediately wrote off the wizard, as everything it reported was suspect.  But being a good DBA, I decided to launch a ticket with Oracle (on the world’s slowest support site) to ask about it.  The analyst came to the awesome conclusion that my problem was that because I may have missed some pre-requisites to 11.5.10.2, that 11.5.10.2 would show up as missing, even though applied.  I gave up on the SR, and researched it on my own, with the help of some of Steven’s folks at Oracle (thanks again, Steven, you’re invaluable).   It felt like the issue was that the (cloned) environment didn’t have the right patch information, but I wasn’t sure where that was kept.

The Bug

It turns out that when I tried to run “maintain current snapshot” from adadmin, it would fail, due to a known bug with 11g database (patch 7000281).  This behavior (which I should have noticed, but honestly, how closely do you check that your cloned environments maintain their snapshots successfully?) kept my TEST instance from knowing that many of my patches had been applied, and therefore caused patch wizard to throw out pages of erroneous patch recommendations.

Results, Take II

After patching, and re-running maintain current snapshot successfully through adadmin, I re-ran the “New Code Levels” to see what recommendations it would make now.

Much better!

Conclusion

Actually, after it finally ran right, the patch wizard did find one patch which I missed for the new baselines, so I have to give it credit there.  Actually, it found a bunch of them, but only one was from a relevant product we actually used.  Will I ever use this product again?  Seems like I might, but not on 11i.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing to fire up before I patch up a regression testing environment, just to ensure I didn’t miss anything relevant.  Would I ever trust it to pull patches, or update itself?  No.  Oracle just seems to be really bad at that.  Products like OEM, OAM, and OCM seem to prove over and over that they can’t consistently push or pull data to or from Oracle.  Then I’d have to ask myself, is that really something I want my systems to do anyway?

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1 Comment

  1. […] The 11i Patch Wizard […]

    Pingback by The Quest for the Holy Grail of R12 Patch Management « Oracle ERP Prophecies — April 26, 2011 @ 10:41 am


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