Cable operators are slowly introducing newer, more sophisticated gateways, with support for TR-069, MOCA, and DOCSIS — but what can be done with all those old gateways? They’re still working, but how do you manage their firmware and ensure that you don’t end up overloading your CMTS or provisioning stack during a mass upgrade, or worse yet, end up bricking the population?
As luck would have it, there is a solution.
Firmware management to such a wide spectrum of legacy devices has become increasingly challenging to organize, and legacy DOCSIS devices will never offer the same level of visibility as newer, TR-069-enabled models. However, by applying methods learned through experience with advanced protocols, operators can orchestrate sophisticated upgrades through an automated DOCSIS firmware solution to streamline the process of upgrading and maintaining firmware in the field. Additionally, a DOCSIS firmware management platform provides cable operators with a centralized, scalable firmware management solution to enable multi-vendor support.
When performing upgrades to your devices, risk management is key. That’s why you need a DOCSIS firmware management solution with a customizable scheduling component, allowing you to filter the population based on certain criteria such as service plan, regions, CMTS, or pre-saved groups, and allowing large-scale upgrades while ensuring that you don’t brick a large number of devices.
When scheduling a bulk operation, your scheduling component should enable you to throttle the operation, limit the upgrade to a service window, and specify the operation to resume at the next service window. The operation should remain flexible, allowing you to schedule upgrades during specific time windows, perform them immediately, or push them to the device on its next contact with the DHCP server. Even with a “tested” image, you will need to confirm that it is safe for your specific build. Test upgrades could be flagged as “lab only,” which allows you to prevent unintentional upgrades and perform your own internal testing on a new firmware image long before you decide to stagger the upgrade to your customers.
By leveraging a central lease database — a centralized database that stores historical and active lease transactions — a DOCSIS firmware management solution is able to automatically discover previously unseen CPEs, determine which CPEs are online, and aid the scheduler in preventing the CMTS or DHCP from being hammered — degrading the service for those out of the upgrade batch. This can all be accomplished without querying the DHCP, CMTS, or probing the network with hundreds of thousands of SNMP queries.
With the right firmware management solution, you’ll be able to simplify the process for determining upgrade/downgrade paths for a particular vendor, model, and firmware. The DOCSIS firmware management platform should have a central repository for CPE images, which can be augmented by a cloud-backed and tested firmware migration script repository. Combined with an intuitive web application, operators are provided with an easy to use point-and-click operation. Additionally, a KPI dashboard can be used to quickly tell you what level of your population is on the latest sanctioned firmware.
Don’t lose value on legacy devices. Get real-time progress indicators of the job and status of your CPEs, automatically generate reports for online viewing or email results to a recipient list, see which devices failed to upgrade and the reasons for failure, and automatically generate a target group to schedule a follow-up operation. And if your devices ain’t broke, don’t fix ‘em!