Upgrading network device firmware/software is a task that IT operations often avoids, given that it introduces change—and therefore risk—and it requires a highly-coordinated effort to minimize downtime. IT organizations often try to limit firmware/software changes such as OS upgrades on their network equipment to once a year and, for many, it can be a costly and arduous process.
Common factors driving the requirement for a firmware update include:
- Security vulnerabilities identified by a device vendor
- Requirement to enable features that are not currently available on devices, or
- Currently deployed version is going out of warranty with the vendor
The security vulnerability is often the most urgent requirement which forces an IT team to plan and execute an upgrade to minimize risk. These days security vulnerabilities are on the top of the priority list for IT leadership. This is because high profile hacks can negatively impact a business financially, operationally and publicly. Any delay in addressing a known vulnerability will reflect poorly on a company, especially if it is exposed and impacts business continuity.