I am a pack rat. I admit it. I rarely throw away old software or IT books. I still have Oracle version 6 books. The last time I got rid of software was when I threw out 3 boxes of 3.5″ floppy drives. I still have old versions of Windows and other software on CD, though. Not DVD, but CD. Anyone need a copy of Windows NT 3.51?
My point is that we typically don’t think about preserving Oracle installation media files after the installation is concluded. More often they are removed to reclaim space in a staging area with the thought that we can always download them again.
After the installation, flash forward to the point where upgrades have not occurred and the hardware is starting to show its age. Then, just before the work day begins, a failure on a legacy storage appliance causes all the production databases to go down.
If you are lucky, there is a disaster recovery plan in place. You are even luckier if it has been tested. At the end of the failure, there are going to be lessons learned and plan revisions.
I recently experienced just such an occurrence at a client site. A legacy storage appliance did fail, taking the production databases with it. You are probably thinking that something like this very rarely, if ever, happens but I have seen network storage appliance failure of this kind twice within the last five years at different places and with different storage appliance makers.
After the initial smoke cleared, three options for recovery were available. In order of preference, they were recover the storage appliance, rebuild servers and databases and recover from backups, and fail over to a disaster recovery site.
While the first option was in progress, it was discovered that the disaster recovery site option would only bring designated critical systems back online, but not every production database. It was further discovered that this option would only allow fail over and not fail back and not allow running systems from sites other than the DR site. As such, this option was abandoned.
This left the option of rebuilding servers and databases and recovering from backups while the storage appliance was being worked on. Unfortunately, a recent acquisition had brought many databases running on unsupported versions of Oracle into the environment. Now there was a scramble to secure the installation media for these versions.
Installation media is available through Oracle Technology Network (https://www.oracle.com/technetwork) or Oracle Software Delivery Cloud (https://edelivery.oracle.com). However, as of the writing of this blog, versions 11g release 1 and 10g release 2 are no longer available for direct download. You can request previous versions of the installation media using the instructions in My Oracle Support (MOS) note 1071023.1. Oracle provides this statement (links included) on the Oracle Technology Network site when viewing Oracle Database software downloads:
Oracle Database 10.2 and 11.1 are no longer available for download. The software is available as a media or FTP request for those customers who own a valid Oracle Database product license for any edition. To request access to these releases, follow the instructions in Oracle Support Document 1071023.1 (Requesting Physical Shipment or Download URL for Software Media) from My Oracle Support. NOTE: for Oracle Database 10.2, you should request 10.2.0.1 even if you want to install a later patch set. Once you install 10.2.0.1 you can then apply any 10.2 patch set. Similarly, for 11.1 request 126.96.36.199 which must be applied before installing 188.8.131.52. Patch sets can be downloaded from the Patches and Updates tab on My Oracle Support.
In most of the recent client sites I have been to, virtual machines are the standard, replacing individual servers. These VMs are hosted on large appliances that allow near instantaneous recovery in the event of a failure. In non-virtual environments, I have seen backups performed at the OS level, where the Oracle binaries are typically installed. In either of these cases, it may not be necessary to keep copies of the Oracle installation media.
My recommendation is to keep not only the installation media of every Oracle software product in your environment, but also keep copies of all patches applied. With storage as cheap and accessible as it is now, there is no real reason not to. You never know when you will need it again.