Every system, computer, or piece of modern-day technology must have its updated software and firmware installed to function at optimal performance. Not just for that reason but also so that all of its users can enjoy the newer features. Session Border Controllers or SBCs are no exception to this rule, especially since they are usually utilized by medium-scale businesses to larger corporations.
For businesses new to integrating SBC into their daily operations, a network admin or in-charge would wonder what it is exactly. Well, a Session Border Controller is a device installed at the boundary between public and private networks. Its main function is to keep the transfer of data secure, private, and efficient at the same time. Think of it as an added layer of protection between your company’s communication lines without compromising on speed and quality.
Without an SBC for an organization’s communication system, classified, confidential, and other types of highly important information are at potential risk of wiretapping, leaks, manipulation, and theft during an exchange. Certainly, nobody would want that to happen. This is why we’re sharing the 11 best practices to update an SBC’s firmware and software that every business should follow as a standard operation procedure.
1. Regularly check for updates
Establish a routine schedule to check for firmware and software updates provided by the SBC vendor. Better yet, make the checking of updates the first thing to do by the in-charge whenever they clock in for work. They can also opt to receive an email from the SBC vendor whenever an update is available.
2. Backup configuration
Before initiating any update, perform a comprehensive backup of the organization’s current SBC configuration. This ensures that the administrator can quickly revert to a known and stable state in case any issues arise during and after the update process.
3. Read the update’s release notes
Thoroughly review the release notes accompanying each update. Understand the new features, bug fixes, and any known issues. This information is essential for planning and anticipating potential troubles. Keep in mind to send error reports whenever problems appear as a result of the update. This will help the development team address issues quicker and prevent more in future updates.
4. Test the updates in a lab environment
Before applying the updates for your company’s operational use, test their functionality in a lab environment while replicating the standard SBC setup. This will help you and your team identify, fix, and avoid any errors before impacting live services.
5. Coordinate with vendor support
If applicable, consult with the SBC vendor’s support team before initiating any updates. They can provide guidance on the installation process, potential challenges, and any specific configurations to set related to your deployment preference. You don’t want to cause any costly errors because you made the mistake of updating the SBC on your own.
6. Follow a staging approach
Perform the update process through a staged system. For example, apply updates to a subset of SBCs first, monitor their performance, and gradually roll out the updates to the entire infrastructure. This would be like testing the firmware and software changes in your office’s network first before implementing them into a quarter, half of, and finally the entire company’s communications setup.
7. Notify stakeholders
Inform relevant stakeholders, including IT teams and end-users, about the scheduled update. It can be done through mass email, conference chat, group SMS, or a poster on the lobby’s bulletin board. Provide details on potential service disruptions and the expected duration of the update process so they can reschedule important calls.
A smart network administrator would do this to avoid being bombarded by calls of complaints on the office telephone. Or worse, an earful of scolding from an executive who failed to get the memo.
8. Monitor the SBC during and after the update
Actively monitor the SBCs during the update process to identify and address any issues promptly. A rookie mistake would be leaving the system to update on its own without supervision, doing something else unimportant, and finding out later that the update didn’t finish due to negligence. These are common reasons for extended delays and should be avoided at all costs. Then, after the update, continue monitoring to ensure that the system behaves as expected.
9. Develop a rollback plan
Develop a rollback plan in case the update causes unexpected issues. This plan should include step-by-step instructions for reverting to the previous version of firmware or software. To create the best and most effective rollback plan, consult with vendor support. They know better about their product than you do.
10. Document the update process
Create detailed documentation of the update process, including the date, version applied, and any issues encountered. This documentation is valuable for auditing, troubleshooting, and future reference. Also, this will help the SBC’s development team make their product perform better in the upcoming updates. Think of it as a win-win situation for all parties involved.
11. Schedule downtime appropriately
Plan updates during scheduled maintenance windows or times of lower user activity to minimize the impact on users. A great time to install an SBC firmware and software update is during weekends when a majority of people in the company are on break or from midnight to four in the morning when everyone is asleep. Communicate downtime and maintenance windows in advance as mentioned in #7.
Updating an SBC’s software and firmware is a simple task on thought but in reality, involves a lot of necessary intricacies to perform. The bigger the business or company that uses it, the harder it’s done. Yet, the secret to updating an SBC’s software and firmware easily, effectively, and successfully is through creating a system and schedule for it by the network administration team.
There will be trial and error while creating the perfect update installation system but once the network administration team figures out the best configurations, all communications done within the company and among those involved will be highly secure and stable.