Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches

Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6500 Series Software, No. 1013

Product Bulletin, No. 1013

Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6000 Family Software

Software Train Life Cycle

Each Catalyst® 4000, 5000, and 6000 Family software release is a member of a release train. Each release train evolves throughout its life cycle, which typically consists of two major phases: early life stages, designated as Early Deployment (ED) releases, where new functionality is added; and later life stages, designated as General Deployment (GD) releases, where only bug fixes are applied.

GD actually includes three subclassifications: Pre-GD, after the train has transitioned to maintenance mode and no new features are added; GD, after all requirements are met; and eventually GD-Mature Maintenance as the train nears its end of life.

Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6000 Family Software Release Train Types and Definitions

Early Deployment (ED) Release

  • Deliver new functionality to market quickly

  • Generally delivered every three to six months

  • Typically there are several ED releases in each train before it goes to Pre-GD, and then GD status

  • When a train is in the ED stage of its life cycle, delivery of bug fixes often require's moving to the next ED release, which includes new functionality

Pre-General Deployment (Pre-GD) Release

  • The software train is now at the mature "Feature Freeze" stage in its life cycle

  • Typically there are several maintenance releases in this stage

  • A train is designated as "Pre-GD" when no new functionality is being added and only bug fixes are applied (for example, this becomes a maintenance train)

General Deployment (GD) Release

  • Goal is stability

  • GD maintenance releases are generally delivered every 6 to 10 weeks

  • Must meet rigid criteria including defect arrival rate thresholds and a customer feedback survey in order to achieve GD status. In order to achieve GD status a software release train must meet the following criteria:

    • Minimal deployment time frame of three months in the field

    • Installed and running on at least 1000 systems in the field (determined by number of systems shipped from Cisco manufacturing plus the number of downloads from Cisco Connection Online [CCO])

    • Arrival rate for customer found severity 1 bugs less than 10 per month

    • Successfully pass a detailed customer satisfaction survey with responses from at least 100 customers. To pass there must be agreement that there are no quality problem areas. Any problems must be addressed by engineering

GD Mature Maintenance

  • A train is designated as "GD-Mature Maintenance" when it is close to end of life. Only severity 1 bugs are fixed in this stage

Milestone Dates

  • End of Sales (EOS)—the date at which product is removed from the price list and is no longer orderable through the normal, nonexception, order fulfillment process

  • End of Engineering (EOE)—the date after which scheduled maintenance releases are not produced

  • End of Life (EOL)—the date after which the software release is no longer supported by Cisco customer support and is removed from CCO

Release Train Status Transition Time Frames

  • From the start of a train there are multiple ED releases before Feature Freeze at which point the train becomes Pre-GD. On average it takes 12 months before a train reaches Pre-GD status

  • From Pre-GD it takes six months on average to achieve GD status

  • GD to GD-Mature Maintenance will generally occurs in eight to 12 months

  • GD-Mature Maintenance to EOE is no less than three months and generally not longer than 6 months

  • The Cisco customer support group continue's to provide support for a release train until it reaches its EOL, which is generally six months after EOE

Current Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6000 Family Software Train Status (as of Q4CY99)

  • The 2.1 train is now at its EOE and EOS. See the EOS, EOE, and EOL of Cisco Catalyst 5000 Family Release 2.1(x) Supervisor software Product Bulletin 857

  • The 3 train, which includes the 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.1, and 3.2 releases, is in GD-Mature Maintenance status through the 3.2(8) maintenance release. [Note: the 3 train includes all releases from 2.2 through 3.2. The release number for the 3 train is awkward because of the introduction of the standard version numbering scheme in the middle of its life. Future release numbering will be consistent with each new train incrementing the first digit of the release number.]

  • The 4 train is now Pre-GD as of Release 4.5(4).

  • Release 5.1 begins the new 5 train, which is at the ED stage of its life cycle.

  • The Catalyst 6000 Family is on the 5 train but has its own releases identified by "CSX", specifically 5.1CSX, 5.2CSX, and 5.3CSX. With the feature release Version 5.4, scheduled for Q1CY00, the Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6000 families will have synchronized releases

  • The Catalyst 6000 Family also now has an optional IOS®-based supervisor software release, called "Cisco IOS for the Catalyst 6000 Family of Switches". This release is IOS 12.0(7)XE, based off the IOS 12.0(7)T branch. This release requires the MSFC and PFC on the Catalyst 6000 supervisor.

Catalyst 4000, 5000, and 6000 Family Software Maintenance Guidelines

To better ensure the stability of the each release train as it ages, less change is allowed in the source code base. The level of change that is allowed depends on the severity of the problem and its effect on the release's stability. Table 1 below identifies the minimal severity level required at different milestones in the release train's life.

Table 1: Bug Fixes for Each Release Type
Release Status Committed Fixes
GD—Mature Maintenance








Development Mainline


Table 2: Bug Security Level Definitions
Level Definitions









Cosmetic/enhancement request