Managing DOCSIS Firmware Updates

Managing DOCSIS Firmware Updates

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In today’s high-speed IP services environment, network administrators often rely on manual steps to complete the complex business processes that ensure device and network health. One of the most tedious tasks for network administrators is managing and updating firmware across a wide network of end-user DOCSIS gateways.

Common problems with firmware management include:

  • Long wait times to discover device firmware versions: This is usually done through SNMP queries on the DOCSIS network, which for a larger provider can translate to more than half a day of waiting time using legacy scanning tools
  • Manual deployment of firmware updates: The actual process of upgrading or downgrading an end-user device is often done in manual batches. This is a very time-consuming process that raises service provider OPEX
  • Lack of visibility into the progress of an ongoing firmware update: In many cases, network administrators run and monitor firmware updates overnight to avoid service interruption and ensure update success. This results in long hours and can cause havoc for an operations team if there are errors with multiple updates.
  • Lack of insight into device errors and necessary corrections: Some devices just don’t want to behave and it usually takes time to figure out which ones failed and why. Retrying the whole process for failed devices is a time-consuming manual effort that further risks affecting subscriber services.

Want to Fast-Track Your DOCSIS Firmware Updates?

To address the list of issues above, administrators need an automated firmware management solution that gives full visibility into firmware versions and provides real-time updates on ongoing firmware processes. There are a number of boxes to check off when searching out the best firmware management solution:

  • A continuously updated library of devices that are deployed on the network
  • One-click on-demand access to network wide information such as device vendor, model, and firmware version
  • Configurable update criteria based on MAC address, DHCP cluster, device model, etc.
  • Flexible scheduling options so that firmware updates can be pushed during off-usage hours
  • Automated actions for firmware updates that allow processes to commence across the operator’s entire IP services network
  • The ability to perform multistage updates during a single firmware campaign (updating very outdated versions of firmware to a desired version)
  • Batch update options that allow providers to select how many devices can be updated, either for large operations or testing firmware packages
  • Real-time statistics into ongoing update processes showing successes, in progress updates, and failures
  • Error notifications that alert the network administrator and display an error code and any text associated to that code

If your firmware management solution checks off the boxes on this list, you are poised to not only reduce the time it takes to manage firmware, you can also reduce errors during firmware updates to lower the risk of negative service impacts on your subscribers.

As your organization grows, the volume of devices and amount of firmware only becomes more complex. Don’t wait until it’s too late to learn about DOCSIS firmware management solutions.

3 Ways Firmware Updates Are Costing Your Business

Clearly, fast-tracking DOCSIS firmware updates is critical. But from a cost perspective, do you know how much you are spending annually on DOCSIS firmware management? For too many service providers, the answer is no.

Consider the resources and costs associated with network-wide DOCSIS firmware updates.

  1. First, there are the obvious costs — the time taken to create an inventory of device types and firmware versions currently in use. In larger operations, this may take half a day or more via SNMP queries.
  1. Then there is the actual process of manually updating firmware — perhaps using an in-house solution to track the results. Even with various databases and in-house solutions in place, firmware updates are generally considered to be time-consuming and are usually completed outside of regular work hours to avoid interruptions to subscriber services during peak hours.
  1. On top of the actual updates, there are additional costs associated with the time taken to complete firmware-related administrative tasks. For example, without a system in place to track firmware versions or failures, your team is unable to quickly diagnose problems or troubleshoot in a timely manner, prolonging customer interruptions and increasing negative feelings about your brand. Over time, this can add up to a significant cost and even impact customer retention.

Clearly, a slow, resource-intensive process is going to cost your business more than a lean, integrated option. OPEX reduction and cost savings are vital to remain competitive — but this shouldn’t come at a cost to the subscriber experience.

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From a quality of experience point of view, every aspect of the customer experience should be made as seamless as possible while still ensuring cost effectiveness. Firmware is no exception. An automated system to schedule, track, and report on firmware upgrades and downgrades is essential to achieve this goal.

An automated, integrated DOCSIS firmware management solution could help reduce OPEX and other costs in a number of customer scenarios.

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Najla Dadmand, Product Manager. With over a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry, Najla brings a diverse range of expertise to Incognito, including quality assurance, hardware engineering, software engineering, product development and project team management. Her pragmatic, customer-first approach to business helps ensure that every client receives holistic solutions to meet their organizational needs.

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