Enterprise software upgrades: The good, the bad and the ugly

Deciding when to implement an enterprise software upgrade is a complicated decision and often comes down to two things: the costs associated with upgrading and the risks associated with postponement. Most organizations establish policies to guide the cadence of software upgrades. Today’s post is a 360-degree look at the good, the bad and the ugly effects of upgrading software promptly or leisurely.

Upgrading to the latest version of software

Security
>> The Good: Protects the enterprise from vulnerabilities such as known and new code deficiencies, server misconfigurations and insecure coding.
>> The Bad: There is no downside to increased software security, but bugs and patches are inevitable.
>> The Ugly: Ditto.

Support
>> The Good: The current software release gets full vendor technical support and ongoing bug fixes.
>> The Bad: New software may increase support desk calls as users learn the system.
>> The Ugly: Upgrade may break existing integrations and processes, requiring IT intervention to get your business back online.

Usability
>> The Good: Access to improved user interface, features and platform integrations.
>> The Bad: User frustration with a new UI and increased help desk calls.
>> The Ugly: Loss of access to retired features. Disconnect or elimination of existing integrations.

Performance
>> The Good: Enhanced performance.
>> The Bad: System performance may slow down.
>> The Ugly: Incompatible devices may malfunction, especially if network devices range in age.

Financial
>> The Good: Ensures access to all paid features.
>> The Bad: New licensing costs, and potentially, installation services, customization services, staff time, fixes and tech support for associated systems, and adjacent system upgrades.
>> The Ugly: Get out the checkbook. In some cases, upgrade costs are 75 times more than the software licensing cost, according to ComputerWeekly.

Customization 
>> The Good: Sadly, there is little upside to upgrading when your software deployment includes customizations.
>> The Bad: Upgrading will force you to recreate customizations. Plan to spend extra time and resources.
>> The Ugly: Rebuilding software customizations after upgrading could cost up to 10 times more in services than the software upgrade itself. (Forbes)

Deployment size 
>> The Good: The larger your deployment, the better your chance at receiving volume discounts on software licenses. The smaller the deployment, the simpler the upgrade process is to manage.
>> The Bad: Larger deployments often have multiple versions running during the rollout.
>> The Ugly: The larger the deployment, the more complicated the upgrade process. More users and complexity increases tech support requests during and after deployment.


Delaying software upgrade

Security 
>> The Good: Delaying software upgrade does nothing to enhance corporate security.
>> The Bad: SC Magazine reports that more than 6,000 new Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) were assigned in 2015. If your organization is exposed to only 10 percent of them, your IT team will need to handle 2.4 vulnerabilities per business day.
>> The Ugly: If cyber criminals successfully leverage software vulnerabilities to infiltrate your business, your data is at risk for theft and breach. Additionally, thieves may choose to encrypt your data with ransomware then demand payment for the encryption key.

Support 
>> The Good: Current software should make you less dependent on vendor tech support.
>> The Bad: Aging software loses compatibility with new platforms, resulting in an increased need for vendor support.
>> The Ugly: Software and support for legacy versions eventually ages out. You may or may not be notified of the end-of-life date.

Usability 
>> The Good: Familiarity with software keeps most users happy.
>> The Bad: Users don’t take advantage of advanced functionality as a result of the delayed upgrade.
>> The Ugly: Usability issues might limit employee productivity and user experience.

Performance 
>> The Good: The best you can hope for when it comes to delaying a software upgrade is status quo system performance.
>> The Bad: System performance is likely to degrade the longer you wait to complete a system upgrade.
>> The Ugly: Delay your software upgrade too long and the software may begin to fail or may not run on legacy hardware, leaving your end users in the lurch while you figure out how to bring them back online.

Financial 
>> The Good: Delaying a software upgrade allows you to save your IT budget.
>> The Bad: Aging software may incur costs that are unaccounted for on a balance sheet. Soft costs include employee down time and increased effort and time.
>> The Ugly: Software delays or failures may cost you business and customers over time, as well as frustrate your employees.

Business-specific Requirements 
>> The Good: The enterprise might delay upgrading until the software offers a feature or upgrade critical to their business as a negotiating tool. These requirements may include large overhauls or minor software tweaks.
>> The Bad: While the software vendor may agree to make changes to meet your business-specific requests, changes might not happen as quickly as necessary. Your feature upgrade might get tabled or pushed to future releases based on the vendor’s product roadmap and priorities.
>> The Ugly: Delaying an upgrade as a negotiation tactic might backfire. The vendor may not prioritize your feature, leaving you without functionality, negotiating power and without updated software.

Download The Guide to Modern Endpoint Backup and Data Visibility to learn more about selecting a modern endpoint backup solution in a dangerous world.

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