The long software upgrade lifecycle in networking

The long software upgrade lifecycle in networking


In Insight data we've extracted, we noticed that both Check Point users and Palo Alto Networks users (see reports #1 and #2 respectively) seem to take a while to adopt new versions. In both cases, the common software version is nearly three years old, with the recent releases comprising roughly 10% of the install base.

It makes sense why - network devices are handling production traffic and an upgrade can potentially disrupt that traffic, even with full high availability enabled. Users are careful when doing so. But, is it possible to change this? Can the network and security vendors do something about this?

Think about it from a software development perspective:
An engineering organizations works a year or two, to produce a software version that will only be utilized by most devices a few years later. That can be five years from planning to mainstream adoption! An engineers comes up with an idea for a new feature only to see it impact customers half a decade later.

In the wider software world, this would be unthinkable today. At Indeni, it takes only a couple of months from planning to mainstream adoption, and in the Web world it could be weeks or days. Will networking evolve?

Something to think about :)