This document is to help customers find a stable software release for the enterprise switching platforms running Catalyst 9000 series switches. The information in this document is not meant to be exhaustive & is intended to serve as a general guidance to customers especially in cases of mass deployments/upgrades. Beyond these recommendations, if customers are required to run a release to utilize newer software features or hardware, the recommendation is to select Extended Maintenance (EM) release trains wherever possible.
For customers deploying Software Defined Access, please refer to the product compatibility matrix which is available here.
Cisco IOS XE Software Support
Each Cisco IOS XE software release is classified as either a Standard Maintenance release or an Extended Maintenance release.
Standard Maintenance Release - A sustaining support lifetime of 12 months from First Customer Shipment (FCS) with scheduled rebuilds. Examples are Cisco IOS XE Software releases 16.8, 16.10, and 16.11 Extended Maintenance Release - A sustaining support lifetime of 36 months from First Customer Shipment (FCS) with scheduled rebuilds. Examples are Cisco IOS XE Software releases 16.9, and 16.12
Note: Every subsequent third release (for example, Cisco IOS XE Software release 16.6, 16.9, 16.12 etc.) will be an Extended Maintenance release.
Given that Standard Maintenance releases have much shorter support lifetimes whereas Extended Maintenance releases have longer support with more scheduled rebuilds / bug fixes, it is recommended that customers stay on Extended Maintenance releases wherever possible.
The recommendations stated below are current as of November 2019, and these will be updated as and when appropriate.
+ If you are not prepared for smart licensing, then 16.6.7 is the recommended version for Catalyst 3850 and 3650 Switches.
Engineering Special Releases
In certain cases, critical bugs are made available on Engineering Special (ES) builds. These builds are not available on CCO (cisco.com). If you are running into any issues specific to your environment which is not already fixed in existing cisco.com releases, please contact Cisco Customer Exprience (CX) to explore the possibility of an Engineering Special (ES) code. Engineering Special builds are meant to be deployed for a limited time frame and customers are advised to move to the next maintenance rebuild as soon as it is available on cisco.com. Engineering special builds are fully supported by Cisco Customer Experience (CX) and the Business Unit (BU).