To update or not to update your database drivers?

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Recently, on IBM developerWorks blogs, there was this article:

Advocating "A good practice is to update these drivers to fit the latest version of your database vendor."  This may or may not be the case depending on your point of view.

First, the two perspectives as seen from different roles:

  1. The IT Administrator role - If there is no specific issue to address, then there is no reason to change the underlying drivers in the system.  This would introduce complexity, regression testing, and possibly other unknown issues with an updated driver.
  2. The Engineering Manager role - Updated drivers are put out to address issues or include enhancements to existing software.  Therefore, these updated drivers should be applied once they have been verified and tested.

Both viewpoints have merits, it simply depends on which path you choose to take.  That said, many companies do not have automated regression tests in place for such operations which means the time and effort to verify the updated drivers are deployed, tested, and verified can be costly.  However, you should not ignore driver updates either.  Instead, we suggest a compromise:

  1. Since it is rare that admins subscribe to component level notifications (for things like database drivers), we suggest auditing your BPM system on a regularly scheduled basis for things like this.  In that manner you can periodically see if there are DB driver updates.
  2. Check the version of the driver you are currently using.  The drivers are located in:
    • BPM_Home/jdbcdrivers/DB_Vendor
  3. If the version of the driver is older then the current version, read the release notes of the new driver to see if it addresses any issues or concerns you may have.  If so, then it may be in your best interest to update the drivers, however otherwise, we suggest that the update may be unnecessary.

In the above manner, we can then keep track of the database driver updates in a more efficient manner, rather then simply installing all updates which may not be useful or relevant.

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