For the most current description of Identity Manager upgrade paths, see the Upgrade Paths and Support Policies in Sun Identity Manager 8.1 Release Notes.
In general, you should upgrade to the most recent Identity Manager release that is available during your testing time frame. For example, assume that you are testing now with version 7.1.1, as this Identity Manager version was the most current release available when you started your current test cycle. Assume further that the next new release, 7.1.2, is scheduled for July 10th, and that July 15th is the projected start date of your next test cycle. You should plan to upgrade to 7.1.2 when you start your next test cycle.
Be sure that the platform in your Production environment supports the new version of the Identity Manager product. If not, plan to update the platform in each environment before you upgrade your Identity Manager application. Reset each target environment to match the Production platform before upgrading that target environment. In general, you must update your platform as part of the upgrade procedure that you follow in each target environment.
In cases where both your current Identity Manager product version and the target Identity Manager version support the updated platform, you can update your platform as a separate change and promote this change all the way to your Production environment before upgrading your Identity Manager application.
The standard upgrade processes that are part of each full release of Identity Manager generally upgrade an existing installation from any version of the previous major release.
Review the Release Notes for the target version of Identity Manager to which you plan to upgrade. The Release Notes document release-specific upgrade considerations. They also contain documentation addenda, bug fixes, and known issues.
Consider your configurations and customizations, and then identify any changes in the Identity Manager product that might affect those configurations and customizations.
Check your current release to see which hotfixes you have installed. Find the bug number associated with each hotfix, and check the Release Notes to confirm that the new, target Identity Manager version contains all of the hotfixes you need.
Sun’s new patch process replaces the older hotfix process. The patch process is cumulative, so you can expect fewer problems with unique fixes. The patch process also makes it easier for you to track a fix by its actual bug number. However, it is still possible that a fix made against an older version might not yet be available in a newer version. Regardless of which process your current version of Identity Manager follows, you must confirm that the new, target Identity Manager version contains all of the bug fixes that you need.
If you want to upgrade your Identity Manager application more than one level (that is, beyond the next major version from your current version), you must read Phases of a Skip-Level Upgrade, which describes how a skip-level upgrade changes the tasks described in this section.