In addition to my previous post about cloning, please tell me your experiences and practices. What do you do when altering your Oracle database software?
I think a home name should include a FULL version number (so 126.96.36.199 instead of 11.2.0) to indicate the version of the home. If you strictly clone the home before any modification, you can even think of a home name like 188.8.131.52_v1 to indicate the state of the home (to indicate one or more one-off patches have been applied) or 184.108.40.206_cpu2010q2.
On the other hand, if you apply several patches you could also reason there is no need to exactly specify the oracle home contents, because if you apply several one-off patches and a CPU, it’s impossible to include that all in the home name without the directory name getting excessively long.
Another thought: if you want to shorten the downtime of the database, patching a cloned home is a must. If you use the cloning already it simply is unthinkable to patch an Oracle home ‘in place’, so while the database is down, and probably on a time you don’t want to work (I’ve done my share of patching Oracle homes at 1:00 AM, you probably did too). Of course the database needs to get down to really move the home, and the database is even longer down if you must upgrade the database too. But that time is shorter than the full CPU/patch/upgrade time.