Three important code update best practices for your IT hardware infrastructure

We want to present a collected list of best practices and policies around code updates that you'll thank your future self for considering and enacting when it comes to procuring, operating, and maintaining your IT infrastructure.

  • Apr 29, 2020
  • TPM, third-party maintenance

One of the frustrations we often hear from potential buyers of our RapidCare® third-party maintenance services revolves around the thought of "things they wish they had known back then."

In this instance, they lament that if they had only understood this idea a few years ago, RapidCare would be the perfect solution for the current problems they’re encountering.

With this in mind, we want to present a collected list of RapidCare practices and policies around code updates that you'll thank your future self for considering and enacting when it comes to procuring, operating, and maintaining your IT infrastructure.

1. Get lifetime access to code updates

Make it a regular requirement of purchase to get lifetime access to code updates for your device. Some manufacturers automatically offer this on some of their products. Many only do so if you ask them.

When you are considering the purchase of new infrastructure equipment, ask pointed questions of your seller. Ask how you can decouple access to code from the requirement that you have an active support agreement with the manufacturer in place.

Use this leverage with your seller when you buy the gear, rather than give away leverage five years out when they force you to keep the device on an expensive support agreement in order to get code updates. (Or worse yet, force you into an unnecessary refresh.)

2. Develop a firmware policy

Develop a firmware policy that makes sense for your operation, and not one that complies with your maintenance providers' requirements. Too often, operators aggressively apply code updates to devices to prevent delays on technical support calls with their provider's service team.

Most operators profess to this being an objective, but more often than not frustration with service responses that force code updates puts them in a position of operating their gear on the support provider's policies and not their own. Examine this in your own organization.

Stable gear that has not experienced any problems operationally should not routinely be subject to the potentially risky application of updated machine code. Push back on providers who mandate minimum code levels. Make them justify the real cost, resource consumption, and potentially unnecessary risk you incur when updating code just for the sake of updating code on stable production equipment.

3. Acquire and archive code updates as they’re released

As code updates for your infrastructure devices are released, acquire them and archive them in accordance with your terms and conditions of use. This used to be a common practice in the industry but now the ease and convenience of downloading it only in a time of need has put many organizations in a situation where they no longer are in control of this process.

This is also a good topic to discuss at time of purchase evaluation and get in writing from your seller. Ensure that you will have rights to use of code you have legally acquired for as long as you own the device that are not rescinded without a support contract.

A code archive can also come in handy when a manufacturer releases a code update that introduces instability after application into your environment. You may then have the option of rolling back to the previous code version, if you have it on hand in your archive.

In conclusion

Generally speaking, the sellers of new IT hardware have successfully focused infrastructure sales on capacities and capabilities, enticing buyers with marketing slogans along the lines of "do more with less" and such. The less savvy buyer goes along with this methodology and does not ask pointed questions about code access, or just assumes that past policies or other manufacturers’ policies will apply in the current situation with the current seller.

Or they falsely believe they have leverage along the lines of "the customer is always right" and that their reseller or OEM will come through for them when it comes to bending policies or making exceptions for them. This assumption almost never bears out and our advice to you is to make code access a subject that you scrutinize during the purchase of new IT gear and put the burden of proof on the seller to provide what you require in writing as a condition of sale.

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