July 22, 2020 | Sree Sakamuri | Senior Solutions Architect
If you haven’t yet seen the news, Oracle recently announced that several popular software versions are now eligible for something called “Oracle Market Driven Support (MDS).” Unlike the standard three stages of Oracle Lifetime Support, MDS is a rarely used and a limited support option for select products that are about to leave Extended Support and move to Sustaining Support. Customers buy MDS for additional time and features as a pseudo-extension of Extended Support.
Because of its relative rarity, you may find MDS confusing. In this post, I’ll answer the most common questions about MDS and break down the details (as we know them) for the specific eligible products.
For which products is Oracle offering the MDS option?
At the time of writing, Oracle is actively offering the MDS option for these products:
- Oracle Database 22.214.171.124 (Extended Support ending Dec’2020)
- Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) 12.1.3 (Extended Support ending Dec’2021)
Who is Oracle MDS for?
If you have no compelling business reason to upgrade to the latest software version in the near future and are petrified at the thought of transitioning to Sustaining Support at the end of the year, then this offering is aimed at you. This applies only to the two specific versions listed above.
Is MDS the same as Extended Support?
Obviously not. After reviewing the key features and benefits, I would describe MDS as a “neither-here-nor-there” offering. I’ll explain why for each product further down.
How much does MDS cost?
MDS is not a free offering, but Oracle does not openly advertise the pricing. You will have to contact your Oracle Sales Representative to find out. Based on the language in the official announcements and the fact that this offering is under the purview of Oracle’s ACS (Advanced Customer Services) division, we expect the cost to be similar to Extended Support.
What are the limitations of these offerings?
Let’s break them out by product, starting with Oracle Database.
Oracle Database 126.96.36.199
Oracle previously offered MDS for 10g databases. When it calculated the sheer number of firms still on 188.8.131.52, Oracle must have decided to bring back MDS. Note that this relief is specifically offered to customers on 184.108.40.206, not 11.2 or 11gR2. The devil is in the details.
We see this as purely a time-buying and revenue-generating tactic designed to keep 11g customers happy and on the hook while account managers entice them to move to the cloud offering. By offering a direct upgrade path from 11.2 to 19c, Oracle will likely use the included ‘planning workshop’ and ‘technical account manager’ to push for this upgrade and further lock you into Oracle products.
When you dig into the details, you’ll see that’s MDS is not necessarily the panacea that the press announcement makes it. Here are a few limitations (and my comments in italics) for this offering:
- SEVERITY: You can only log Severity (Sev) 1 SRs, which implies that the issue or problem ticket has to satisfy Oracle’s “Production Environment Down/Unavailable” criteria.
So, no Severity 2, 3, or 4 tickets allowed. Unfair? Tough luck!
- FIXES: MDS only includes workarounds or fixes for newly discovered Sev 1 problems.
What does Oracle mean by ‘newly discovered?’ I’m still searching for the definition. You could interpret this as meaning that not every Sev 1 issue will end up getting a fix or workaround.
- SECURITY: MDS does not include standard security patch updates (SPUs), so you will no longer receive the same quarterly-released bundles. Oracle solely creates MDS security patches or updates at its discretion and on a schedule it determines, including for Sev 1 issues described above.
This likely means that a patch for your specific problem or exposure may not be available in a limited release. This leaves you entirely at Oracle’s mercy to provide you with a security patch only if and when Oracle believes that the time, money, and effort are worth spending.
- VERSION: This MDS is only for 220.127.116.11 databases.
Versions like 18.104.22.168/2/1 are a no-go. Support is limited to the Database component and not the whole Database, which means that many associated components like Java (in DB), DB Firewall, TLS, TimesTen, MySQL, SQL Developer, and Audit Vault are not supported.
- CERTIFICATIONS: There is no support for certifications with new versions of third-party software.
Are you planning to upgrade your third-party software to make integrations smoother and need support to assist that upgrade? Sorry, you’re not covered.)
- PRICING: MDS is offered by the ACS division of Oracle Support, so I suspect the pricing would be based on the number of production databases. One blog says the price would be the same as Extended Support (i.e., a 20% uplift of support fee).
You are not likely to receive any discounts or have any room to negotiate with MDS, as Oracle would prefer you to upgrade or migrate to the Cloud.
MDS for this version of EBS is very similar to what I described above, with these minor changes to compensate the product family dependencies:
- SEVERITY: Sev 2 SRs are allowed along with Sev 1 if they are for “newly discovered” issues.
- SECURITY: Security updates are once again at Oracle’s discretion, making it extremely frustrating for customers despite paying for support.
- LOCALIZATIONS: Product Localizations are at Oracle’s discretion, only for the applicable contract year, and limited to updates backported from 12.2.
- CUSTOMIZATIONS: The MDS excludes customizations, of course.
- ARCHITECTURE: Updates that require architectural changes to the application are not available.
- INTEGRATIONS: External integrations, products, and technologies used in conjunction with EBS are not covered.
- MODULES: Not every module of EBS is supported. You can find the list of exclusions by accessing the My Oracle Support article “Products Excluded from Business Critical Fixes and Limited Updates for Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1.3” (Doc ID 2658179.1)
- MINIMUM CODE LEVEL: If your EBS 12.1.3 environment is not at the minimum code level as detailed in “Minimum Code Level Requirements for Business Critical Fixes and Limited Updates for Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1.3” (Doc ID 2658189.1), then your environment will not be eligible for this support.
- COMPATABILITY: Updates to 12.1.3 are dependent on their compatibility with the later version 12.2. Anything that does not meet these criteria will not be entertained.
- PAYROLL TAX UPDATES: These are only for the applicable contract year. Payroll updates are limited to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. All other countries must pay extra if they want these updates.
- GTRC: Backporting of legislative or regulatory updates are once again offered only at Oracle’s discretion.
- CERTIFICATIONS: This MDS does not include new browser certifications or new certifications with other Oracle products or third-party products.
So, is Market Driven Support worth the investment?
That’s the million-dollar question. MDS is designed for a very specific clientele with limited needs. In our opinion, any Oracle customer considering this offering should dig deep into the option to assess the actual value as compared to its current Expended Support. The above lists are just the beginning of what you should know.
A good question to ask your Oracle team is whether they envision needing any of the excluded features. If the answer is yes, then you may have to spend above and beyond the price of MDS for managed services or consulting.
What alternatives do you have?
Rather than acquiesce to Oracle’s low-value Market Driven Support or Sustaining Support, Oracle customers have another choice: third-party Oracle Database and E-Business Suite support. Organizations choose Spinnaker Support because we:
- Immediately reduce the cost of support fees by an average of 62%
- Deliver responses in less than 15 minutes, from Level 4 senior engineers in eight operations centers
- Supply more comprehensive coverage, including for customizations and interoperability issues
- Help extend the life of stable, customized, and productive applications, for as long as you need
- Offer flexible commercial terms that match your licenses and business needs
- Provide a safe haven until cloud solutions become right for your business