RE: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?

Subject: RE: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Beverly Robinson <beverly_robinson -at- datacard -dot- com>, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2013 00:31:02 -0400

In our case, we always ship with the most recent FIPS-validated firmware installed, and the newest version (not validated) on standby.
If most/all of the features of the release are dependent upon the new firmware, then many customers are simply not allowed to install it, whether they want/need those features or not. They have to wait the months (sometimes more than a year) until the new firmware has successfully gone through evaluation and gotten its validation certificate. Similar idea for Common Criteria EAL which takes even longer to process. Other customers don't have that constraint and can decide on the merits whether it's worth updating.

If a release is software only, then any customer can install it if they want the features and fixes. They decide whether it's worth the pain. The actual update process is easy and takes a couple of minutes, and can be scripted for mass roll-outs.... but it's the customers' own internal procedural requirements that are often an obstacle. Ask most of the Techwr-l members who work for corporations when was the last time their employer rolled out a new Windows the same year it was released. You'll probably be able to count them on one thumb.... and have a thumb left over. Same idea, only our customers generally have more stringent policies and procedures and auditors to answer to.

If a release is firmware and software, then often only some features require the new firmware, while others do not. In that case, a customer might update system or client software but not the firmware, because they desire the software-only feature(s) and can wait for the features that require f/w update.

-----Original Message-----
From: Beverly Robinson [mailto:beverly_robinson -at- datacard -dot- com]
Sent: August-09-13 2:40 PM
To: Gene Kim-Eng
Cc: Techwr-l Posting; McLauchlan, Kevin
Subject: RE: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?

I understand not upgrading firmware automatically, especially in high-security environments like Kevin's (and my) customers have. All the more reason to put the emphasis on what problem each feature fixes and mentioning any required firmware as another data point to help decide whether to pursue installing the new feature.

It's a matter of emphasis: organizing by whether new firmware is required puts the emphasis on the firmware while organizing by software feature emphasizes problems solved. It just seemed to me that both organizations in Kevin's original message put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.

Beverly
-----Original Message-----
From: Gene Kim-Eng [mailto:techwr -at- genek -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 12:01 PM
To: Beverly Robinson
Cc: Techwr-l Posting; Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
Subject: Re: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?

The reason it matters is that not everyone installs every new firmware update. If your computer's model has been out for a few years, it's probably had a BIOS update, but do a search on "should I update my BIOS"
and you'll see that the overwhelming consensus is that you shouldn't unless a newer one fixes a problem you're having or adds something you need. Because a failed firmware update can convert most any piece of equipment into either an expensive doorstop or an expensive service call, along with expensive down time. So for every firmware update, there's someone out in installed base browsing the release notes asking "why should I want to install this?"

Gene Kim-Eng


On 8/9/2013 7:21 AM, Beverly Robinson wrote:
> I don't understand the need to categorize new features by whether they need the new firmware. If I have been waiting for a certain new feature and will start using it as soon as possible, whether that feature needs new firmware is not important.

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References:
RE: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?: From: Beverly Robinson
Re: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Is a new firmware version a "feature"?: From: Beverly Robinson

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