No More HCM Cloud Upgrades

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Oracle have announced that they’re stopping the practice of bi-annually upgrading HCM Cloud and are going to roll the enhancements into the quarterly updates instead.


It’s a move that isn’t particularly surprising as large upgrades are being phased out by most vendors in favour of continuous software delivery. Particularly when looking at Cloud vendors, most are eschewing large upgrades and delivering much more frequent incremental improvements instead (think Microsoft and Office 365, or Amazon and AWS).

So what does Continuous Software Delivery (CSD) mean for customers?

Quicker Innovation

Instead of having to wait 6 or 12 months to get the improvements now clients will have to wait a maximum of 3 months. Innovations will flow from Oracle to customers much quicker this way.

Removal of Upgrades

There was a fair amount of inconvenience associated with upgrades – they have to be planned in advance, there is considerable testing effort and there is some downtime involved (although that was being reduced in more recent upgrades).

Larger Quarterly Updates

Of course, the quarterly updates will be slightly bigger as they’ll contain more enhancements than they currently do. They’ll still stick to the same schedule (1st/3rd Friday of the month) and customers will be able to choose their months so it fits around their business calendar – i.e. you could be Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct or Feb/May/Aug/Nov or Mar/Jun/Sept/Dec. You’ve never going to be more than 3 months from an update, but at least you can avoid a busy month.

Ability to Defer Functionality

Although Oracle will deliver the functionality to all customers in the same updates (aside from the monthly staggering) customers will be able to leave some ‘switched off’ until they are ready to roll it out. They’ll be able to defer the deployment until their business is ready.

Monthly Maintenance

Those who’ve elected to be on monthly maintenance will be largely unaffected by this change (aside from the obvious removal of upgrades and the inclusion of enhancements in the monthly updates).


The Shift to Quarterly Updates

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At the start of November Oracle announced that the frequency of the Oracle Cloud Apps application update cycles is changing.

Old – Monthly Updates

Up until now we’ve been working with the monthly update cycle, meaning that on the 1st Friday of every month our test environment(s) get the updates which then flow into Production on the 3rd Friday of each month. The upside of this is that we got our fixes every month, however the downside was that we got our fixes every month! This meant two weeks of testing every month testing and a two week ‘blackout’ period where P2T (Production to Test environment refreshes) could not be scheduled.

So, the calendar would look something like this:


where red days are the Test updates, green days are the Production updates and the purple days are the blackout days. Therefore you could only schedule a P2T on the days that weren’t red, green or purple – which worked out at only 8-9 days per month.

New – Quarterly Updates

We’re now in a world where our updates will mostly come quarterly. Is this a good thing? On balance, yes, it probably is. It certainly means less disruption to customers’ business-as-usual activities, less effort required for testing and it gives more alternatives when trying to schedule P2Ts. The downside is – of course – that the fixes arrive less frequently.

Now the calendar looks more like this:


There are a lot more gaps for P2T refreshes in the new calendar.

But I liked the Monthly Updates …

Oracle have provided a solution for this too, in that if you require monthly updates for a period of time – perhaps during implementation – then you can opt back in to the more frequent release cadence. You can only opt back out to quarterly patches when the next quarterly patch comes around, however, so you can’t just take a single monthly patch.

So, if the quarterly updates are due in February and May, but you want the monthly update in March, then you’ll also have to take the monthly update in April before you can return to the quarterly cadence.

Please note: the infrastructure update cadence (as needed, but approximately quarterly) and the upgrade cadence (once or twice a year) has not changed.