Systems administrators react to software updates with the enthusiasm that they usually reserve for a root canal. This is because software updates add an element of chaotic unpredictability to a system that is functioning smoothly.
For the vast majority of the time, software updates applied to BIOS, device firmware, device drivers and the operating system install and work without a problem. But, ask system administrators if they’ve had a problem with software update and they’ll get a distant look in their eyes. It’s not the times that a software update applies without a problem that everyone remembers; rather, it’s the times when something goes wrong with an update that systems administrators think about (and all too often are alerted to) in the wee hours of the morning.
Sometimes a software update causes something simple to stop functioning, or to start functioning in an unreliable manner. Sometimes a software update—and it’s quite often an update to BIOS or device firmware--“bricks” a system, causing it to simply stop functioning at all.
While vendors test updates before they release them into the wild, they simply can’t test all possible hardware and software combinations. Sometimes the only way for a system administrator to find out whether a software update will cause a problem with their specific systems is to install the update and to see what happens—not a great position to be in when any kind of downtime or problem can cost an organization time, money and reputation.
The advantage of a converged architecture is that the vendor of the converged architecture systems provides the updates. And you get the whole stack with converged architecture, rather than individual components, so the vendor can test updates against all permutations of the hardware configuration before passing that update on to administrators—and, ultimately, to customers.
That should make administrators sleep much better at night.
What are your worst update fears—or horror stories? We welcome your comments, questions and peer advice.
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