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Cisco NX-OS Software Strategy and Lifecycle Guide

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Updated:August 23, 2021

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Updated:August 23, 2021
 

 

What you will learn

A comprehensive Cisco NX-OS Software release methodology has been developed both to preserve the integrity and stability of mission-critical networks and to have the flexibility to respond to market needs for timely delivery of advanced networking features with multilayer intelligence.

This document is a guide to understanding the Cisco NX-OS Software release lifecycle. It describes the types of releases, their functions, and their timelines. It also describes the Cisco NX-OS Software release and image-naming conventions.

Types of Cisco NX-OS Software releases

Table 1 lists the Cisco NX-OS Software release variants: major+, major releases or trains, feature releases, and maintenance releases.

Table 1.        Cisco NX-OS Software release types

Cisco NX-OS Software release type

Description

Major+ release

A major+ release is considered a superset train, which carries all the attributes of a major release but can also have additional key changes (for example, 64-bit kernel) or other significant changes that require increasing the release numbering. A major+ release consists of multiple major releases.

Example: Release 10.x(x)

Major release

A major release or software train introduces significant new features, functions, and/or hardware platforms. Each major release consists of multiple feature releases and maintenance releases and is its own train.

Examples: Release 10.2(x), etc.

Feature release

Each major include will receive new features, functions, and hardware platforms in the first few releases (typically 3 releases) of the major train. These are designated as feature releases.

Examples: Release 10.2(1)F, 10.2(2)F, 10.2(3)F

Maintenance release

Once a major train has reached maturity through the first few feature releases, it will then transition to the maintenance phase, where it will receive bug fixes and security enhancements only. No new features will be developed on a maintenance release, to ensure the integrity and stability of the overall major release train.

Examples: Releases 10.2(4)M, 10.2(5)M, 10.2(6)M

Each Cisco NX-OS Software release is uniquely numbered as A.B(C)x, where A is the major+ release or train, B is a major train that enhances a major+ release, C is the numerical identifier of the sequence within the major train and x represents if this release is a (F)eature release or a (M)aintenance release.

Figure 1 is a graphical representation of the Cisco NX-OS Software releases, based on the example of the Cisco Nexus® 9000 Series Switches.

Cisco NX-OS Software

Figure 1.            

Cisco NX-OS Software

Lifecycle of a Cisco NX-OS Software release

Previously, Cisco NX-OS releases were designated as either a long-lived or a short-lived release. From 10.2(1)F onwards, all major releases will be treated equally, and all major release trains will be designated as the recommended release at various points within their lifecycle. Figure 2 represents the lifecycle of the Cisco NX-OS 10.2(x) release.

Lifecycle of a Cisco NX-OS software release

Figure 2.            

Lifecycle of a Cisco NX-OS software release

The lifecycle of a Cisco NX-OS release goes through four phases. These phases also align with various stages in the End-of-Life (EOL) process.

1.     The lifecycle of a major release starts with a feature development phase. This phase starts with First Customer Shipment (FCS) or the first release, on the major train. It represents the date of the first shipment of a software release to customers. There are two additional releases over the subsequent 12 months on this major train, where new features and enhancements are introduced. The End-of-Sales (EOS) announcement, as part of the EOL process, is designed to coincide with FCS, to provide customers visibility into the EOL milestones and support timelines for the major release.

2.     At 12 months post FCS, the major release then enters the maintenance phase. This maintenance phase extends over 15 months, with regular software releases, where any potential defects or security vulnerabilities (PSIRTs) are addressed. No new features or enhancements are introduced during this phase, to ensure software stability.

3.     At 27 months post FCS, it enters the extended support phase, under which it receives only PSIRT fixes. This date aligns with the end of software maintenance milestone in the EOL process.

4.     At 42 months post FCS, it enters the TAC support phase, where customers can continue to get software support from Cisco® TAC, and an upgrade to a subsequent major release will be required for defect fixes. This date aligns with the end of software vulnerability / security support milestone in the EOL process. At 48 months post FCS, no support will be provided for this major release.

Upgrade and migration

Cisco NX-OS will continue to innovate across major releases while providing reliable and stable versions of NX-OS to our customers.

A new major release will be launched in Q3 of each calendar year, enabling customers to take advantage of new features and hardware in this new major release while allowing other customers to remain on the previous major and recommended release, for those who want the reassurance of regular releases focused solely on defect fixes.

The major release timelines and milestones are outlined below in Figure 3.

Related image, diagram or screenshot

Figure 3.            

NX-OS timelines across multiple releases

Conclusion

The Cisco NX-OS cadence-based software release methodology preserves the integrity, stability, and quality of customers' mission-critical networks. It has the flexibility to respond to market needs for timely delivery of innovative features. The primary attributes of this release methodology include the following:

      Major releases introduce significant new features, functions, and platforms

      Feature releases enhance NX-OS features and functions

      Maintenance releases address product defects

For more information

      Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches release notes: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/switches/nexus-9000-series-switches/products-release-notes-list.html

      Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches minimum recommended Cisco NX-OS releases: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/switches/datacenter/nexus9000/sw/recommended_release/b_Minimum_and_Recommended_Cisco_NX-OS_Releases_for_Cisco_Nexus_9000_Series_Switches.html

      Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches End-of-Life (EOL), End-of-Sale (EOS) notices: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/switches/nexus-9000-series-switches/eos-eol-notice-listing.html

 

 

 

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