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Oracle Lifetime Support – Premier vs Extended vs Sustaining Support

Oracle Support Basics:

According to Oracle, support is effective upon the effective date of your order (unless stated otherwise in your order). If your order was placed through the Oracle Store, the effective date is the date your order was accepted by Oracle.

Oracle technical support terms, including pricing, reflect a 12-month support period (the “support period”). Once placed, your order for technical support services is non-cancelable and the sums paid non-refundable, except as provided in the relevant order. Oracle is not obligated to provide technical support beyond the end of the support period.

Lifetime Support consists of the following 3 service levels (Oracle Software Technical Support Policies):

  1. Premier Support (also referred to as, and will be documented on your order as, “Software Update License & Support” or “Oracle Communications Network Software Premier Support”)
  2. Extended Support (if offered)
  3. Sustaining Support

Premier Support will be available for five years from the date a release of the Oracle program becomes generally available. If offered, support may be extended for an additional three years with Extended Support for specific releases. In addition to the technical support fee, an Extended Support fee applies for each support period for which Extended Support is purchased. Alternatively, and if offered, support may be extended with Sustaining Support, which will be available for as long as you maintain technical support for your Oracle program licenses.

Oracle develops new patches and certifications for Oracle products while they are covered by either Premier Support or Extended Support. These two support phases are collectively known as the “Error Correction Support period”. After that period, products are covered by Sustaining Support. You can download existing patches and documentation for products in Sustaining Support, however you cannot request new patches or certifications for these products.

General Exceptions – For Oracle Database releases designated as an “Oracle Database Innovation Release” in the Lifetime Support Policy and on ODSC, Premier Support will be available for two years from the generally available date.

Exceptions, what does that mean?

According to Oracle there are two types of Oracle Database releases: Long Term Release and Innovation Release.

  1. Long Term Release:
    • “Oracle Database Long Term Releases are ideal for use cases that benefit from less frequent upgrades to newer releases. Long Term Releases offer the highest level of stability and the longest length of error correction support. These releases have 5 years of Premier Support followed by 3 years of Extended Support. When combined with Extended Support, customers typically have almost 4 years to upgrade from one Long Term Release to the next Long-Term Release.”
  1. Innovation Release:
    • “In between Oracle Database Long Term Releases, Oracle delivers Oracle Database Innovation Releases that include many enhancements and new capabilities which will also be included in the next Long-Term Release. Innovation Releases are designed to enable customers to continuously use leading-edge technologies to rapidly develop or deploy new applications or augment existing applications. Support for Innovation Releases includes 2 years of Premier Support, but there is no Extended Support. Production workloads can be deployed on Innovation Releases if upgrading within 2 years to a newer release is factored into the deployment plan.”

Release Schedule of Current Database Releases (Doc ID 742060.1), sample;

Customers still running on prior releases (e.g., 11gR2, 12cR1, 12cR2, 18c) are encouraged to upgrade to Oracle Database 19c – the current Long-Term release with support through to April 2027.

The latest Innovation release of Oracle Database 21c, is now generally available “cloud first” in the Oracle Cloud Database Service Virtual Machine (for RAC and single instance) and Bare Metal Service (single instance). The latest Innovation release introduces a number of new features and enhancements that further extend database use cases, improves developer, analyst and data scientist productivity, and increases query performance. See My Oracle Support (MOS) note 742060.1.

Summary:

Knowing what type of support, you have rights to is extremely important. Knowing the term length is part of that. To plan your future support needs, you will need to determine what your development goals are. Are you a bleeding edge, technically aggressive company who wants the latest developments? If so, you might consider the Innovation Releases, but realize that the support term is limited and upgrade cycles require more aggressive management, not to mention the version upgrades that are required.

Worth noting; will the Innovation Release always stick to the 2-year cycle? Unless you are that company, the Long-Term Release should fit most companies plans and requirements, and offers the longest support period with the least amount of support management. Also, there is no reason you can’t run both, to keep production on Long Term Release with your development on Innovation Release. There may be added benefits, but there would also be added support term management and cycling.

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