Quarterly patches are released for Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), these expand functionality, resolve bugs, and update security. The modules being updated, the nature of the changes, and the overall complexity of the patch varies each quarter, and this makes it difficult for businesses to predict their impact on an Oracle Cloud implementation.
Impact on Data Conversion
Oracle patches impact data conversion because File Based Data Import (FBDI) processes and templates are evolving to meet expanding customer needs. Changes to the load process and template must be accounted for by your implementation team. If load process and template changes are ignored then project delays will ensue as unexpected load errors emerge, records fail to insert into Oracle, and data appears missing or misplaced from Oracle’s user interface (UI). We have identified 5 major risks posed by Oracle’s quarterly patch along with 5 solutions that will drive your business forward and avoid data migration failure.
Risk 1: Implementing the patch requires system downtime
Solution: Plan your project schedule and data loads around Oracle patches
Before your project starts you should be aware of when Oracle’s quarterly patches will take place by reviewing Oracle’s published schedule. Understand that Oracle staggers the application of the quarterly patch: it is first applied to test environments and applied to production later. Plan your implementation test cycles around these patch dates so that the patch will not interrupt test cycle loads - this is especially important when considering 24/7 schedules like those for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and the dry run cutover. If the quarterly patch is unavoidably scheduled over your test cycle, then plan loads ahead of time to ensure that all scheduled processes complete before the patch begins, and do not resume loads until you receive confirmation from your Oracle contact that the patch is complete in the environment that you are loading into.
Risk 2: Changes to File-Based Data Import Templates (FBDIs)
Solution: Review updates to the FBDI spreadsheets before the patch is applied.
Oracle releases the latest File Based Data Import (FBDI) templates for each patch prior to the update taking place in the system. The majority of the FBDIs will not have any changes between patches, but those that do need to have the new template incorporated in your conversion process before the patch is applied. Changes to the FBDI include added columns, removed columns, and updated fields. If the correct FBDI template is not used after the patch was applied, then data might be loaded to incorrect fields. As soon as Oracle releases the updated FBDI templates you need to compare them with the version of the FBDI that you are currently using and identify any changes. Automated tools to perform the quarterly FBDI comparisons are part of Premier’s data migration services.
Risk 3: List of Values (LOV) Changes
Solution: Extract and review configuration prior to loading data
Many fields in Oracle are driven by a list of values (LOV). If you try to load data into one of these fields with a value that does not exactly match any of configured values in the LOV, then the record will fail to load, and an invalid value error will be returned. An Oracle patch may change the expected list of values for one of these fields. The best way to prevent an invalid value for a LOV load error is to query backend Oracle tables using Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (BI Publisher) prior to loading. Once you extract the list of acceptable values from Oracle configuration table these can be validated against the being passed through conversion. This exercise will confirm that the values you are passing in the fields are acceptable and will not cause records to fail load.
Risk 4: Changes to load process
Solution: Test load one record before initiating a full load
A less common, but highly impactful, update with an Oracle patch is a change to a load process. You should be informed of these kinds of updates before your next data load and have an updated load procedure associated.
In the past year, an Oracle patch eliminated the primary method for loading manufacturers. At that time, we were in the middle of a project and the CSV import for manufacturers that we had used since the beginning was no longer an option. Luckily, on our project, we were able to load manufacturers in production early with the original loading method. Otherwise, we would have had to switch the manufacturers load template used which would have required changing the entire conversion program.
Updates like this one tend to have more risk for your next load. To avoid any potential issues in the mass data load, make sure to test load one record before kicking off a full load of an entire conversion object. Make sure the one record goes through the load process successfully and then confirm that the record looks how it is expected to on the front end as well.
Risk 5: Added cutover risk
Solution: Do not load production data immediately following a new patch
Given all the risks outlined above, the biggest risk to your project would be having your system undergo an Oracle patch immediately before cutover without being able to test the update in a non-production environment. When you are creating your project, plan make sure that you can test the latest Oracle patch in your final test cycle environment and do not make any updates to Oracle that you are unable to test in a different environment before performing the load in production. Fortunately, Oracle’s quarterly patch follows a predictable schedule and project leadership will know in advance if the release coincides with go-live and you can plan accordingly.
Benefits of Oracle’s Quarterly Patch
The handful of risks associated with Oracle's quarterly patches are far outweighed by the benefits they bring to your organization. Many patches include functionality that has been newly implemented or enhanced based on customer service requests – this could include changes your own organization has requested! The quarterly cadence guarantees that your organization is always running on the latest and greatest version of Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, particularly around data security. The workplace is constantly evolving, and cyber threats are always lurking somewhere. Implementing Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and taking advantage of their quarterly patches is one way to future proof your organization.