The dangers of letting your software versions lag

Over the last month we have had a few difficult support issues where the technical challenges involved in resolving them were directly related to the customers being significantly behind our current software versions (free to all clients on maintenance!). While our support and development teams do make every effort to help out with issues that come up with older versions, it’s important to realize that as the years pass it becomes more and more difficult for us to provide quick and effective help. In short: it is risky to lag too far behind.

There are both technical and human reasons for this:

  • To support current OS/400 releases we need to keep our own boxes relatively current. This means that in some cases it is no longer even possible for us to replicate or test problems with older software releases.
  • We do most of our upgrade testing using the last couple of versions. If you lag multiple versions behind you are more likely to run into upgrade issues that haven’t come up before and may be difficult to resolve effectively.
  • Even in cases where we can replicate software or upgrade problems with older versions, for a variety of technical reasons it can still be difficult or impossible for our developers to create fixes for the old release.
  • On the human side, our support and development teams work every day with the current releases of the software, and that’s what our newer reps are primarily trained on. While many of us have been here for quite a few years, there is always some erosion of old knowledge and the effort involved in dragging up old information increases with time.

It can be tempting to let stable software just ‘be’, and if you aren’t currently working on an application, sometimes the years can slip by. But if you don’t plan your software upgrades Murphy’s Law dictates that you will most likely be forced to perform an upgrade when you are least ready for it.

If you haven’t had to go through this yourself yet let us assure you that the work involved in planning an upgrade is considerably less than the stress of having to do an emergency upgrade due to an unanticipated issue!

As a quick rule of thumb, if you aren’t running a software version newer than those mentioned in our blog article of 18 months ago announcing the end of support for V5R3, you should probably give some thought to upgrading. If you aren’t sure what release you’re at, KB#5595 has instructions for checking versions.

Contact Technical Support if you have any questions!

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