Credit: Teerawut Punsorn
Hardware vendors say it all the time: Your firmware is out of date and should be upgraded.
I hear this almost every time I'm working on a hardware support contract. Disk failures on storage, part failures on modular switches -- it doesn't matter; the firmware issue almost always pops up. And I play along.
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"Because there are tons of improvements and bug fixes in the newer version," they all say when asked why I should upgrade. But unless I'm experiencing a problem that can be directly traced to firmware, I'll usually decline. I've been bitten more than once by the siren song of the latest firmware. I'll take stability over recency nearly every time.
The high price of firmware upgrades
Maintenance windows and downtime are significant factors when it comes to updating firmware on core devices. Unless your storage supports online firmware updates (as some do), you're looking at a reboot of a storage array at best and longer downtime at worst. Most small organizations can't afford hardware that supports online updates, so the entire virtualization infrastructure must be powered down or migrated just to upgrade the firmware of one storage array. Unless your current firmware is causing data integrity issues, it isn't worth having to do either.
That's nothing to say of the possibility that a "minor" firmware update can cause unforeseen problems with the device, rendering it inoperable or otherwise offline. Now you're left with a situation of your own causing that has suddenly become a far bigger problem. That simple firmware update, which has a changelog that contains next to nothing pertinent for your infrastructure, has hit a bug and instead of rebooting normally, your device is now stuck at boot throwing errors.