Meraki firmware upgrades are designed to be robust and painless, whether they are deployed to one network or 10,000. By the time an upgrade becomes available to customers, Meraki firmware has already gone through an extensive testing process which includes regression, stability, and performance testing. In the interest of simplicity, we provide one unified firmware distribution for each of our product families (e.g. MX, MS, MR, MV, MC).
Stages of the Rollout
Meraki's firmware rollout process has three stages: Beta, Stable Release Candidate, Stable. Every firmware version is created and released with the goal of graduating to stable. The following sections go over each of the stages in more detail.
Firmware is made available for production use at first under "Beta". Often customers will run beta firmware in their production network to take advantage of new features and bug fixes. Beta firmware has already gone through internal regression, stability, and performance testing to limit risks when applied to production networks. Customers that opt into beta firmware via the "Try beta firmware" configuration option on dashboard will be automatically notified and scheduled to upgrade to these versions as they are released. These upgrades can be canceled, modified, and reverted using the firmware upgrades tool on dashboard. Customers can also upgrade their networks at any time to beta firmware by using the firmware upgrade tool on Dashboard. Beta firmware can be considered analogous to “Early Deployment” firmware seen in other products in the industry.
The latest beta firmware is fully supported by our Support and Engineering teams. Older betas are supported with best effort; an upgrade to the latest beta will ensure full support.
Stable Release Candidate
As a new firmware version matures from beta, it has the opportunity to graduate into a stable release candidate. A formal review of the beta firmware success is conducted by our software and product teams. KPIs for quantifying firmware quality are analyzed including open support cases & engineering issues, firmware adoption, and stability metrics. After the formal review a beta may be reclassified as a "Stable Release Candidate". At this point the firmware version will be indicated as such in the firmware upgrade tool. Once a new stable release candidate is available, Engineering will begin scheduling a limited set of customers for upgrade. These upgrades can be canceled, modified, or reverted using the firmware upgrade tool on dashboard.
The latest stable release candidate firmware is fully supported by our Support and Engineering teams. Older stable release candidates are supported with best effort; an upgrade to the latest beta, stable release candidate, or stable will ensure full support.
A stable release candidate matures into a stable version over time as it is slowly rolled out to devices globally. When Meraki's install-base hits a specified threshold for a major version (roughly 10-20% of nodes), that firmware revision will be promoted to "Stable", pending a final formal review. For point releases, the determination will be made on a case by case basis. Again the same KPIs are analyzed as used in the stable release candidate review. Upon completion of these processes, the firmware can be promoted to "Stable." After promotion, stable versions can be applied by any customer via the firmware upgrade tool on the dashboard. The latest stable version is also the version that is used for all newly created dashboard networks for a particular device.
The latest stable firmware is fully supported by our Support and Engineering teams. Older stables are supported with best effort; an upgrade to the latest stable will ensure full support.
When an upgrade is scheduled by Engineering, the network administrators will receive an email notification 7-14 days in advance. Upgrades are scheduled for the maintenance window configured on the Network Wide General page. Administrators can choose to view, reschedule, or cancel pending upgrades with the firmware upgrades tool. If no action is taken, the upgrade will be performed as scheduled.
Critical updates, such as those to address high-impact security vulnerabilities, may be scheduled on a shorter timeline.
Device Upgrade Process
Devices will continue to function and serve clients while downloading new firmware, though clients will be disconnected when the device reboots. After the reboot, the device will ensure that Internet connectivity and cloud connectivity are still working properly. If they are not, it will revert to the previous firmware.
Cisco Meraki devices have two memory partitions that store the old and new firmware in parallel. While the new firmware is downloading, the device continues normal operation on the old firmware. Once the new firmware has been successfully downloaded, the device will reboot and the new firmware will be loaded. If the new firmware fails to load, the device simply reverts to the old firmware.
The upgrade process generally takes under 11 minutes on wired devices with a fast Internet connection. Approximately 10 minutes or less for the firmware to be downloaded, and about 1 minute for the device to reboot and assume normal functionality. It may take a few minutes longer for various elements of dashboard to update and begin displaying live data.
For networks with larger numbers of devices sharing an Internet connection, this process can take longer, as all devices must download the new firmware.
Firmware Upgrade Tools
The firmware upgrade tool is a feature on the Meraki dashboard that is used to obtain firmware version details and scheduling updates. More information about this tool can be found within the firmware upgrades doc.
Additionally, the local status page on the device can also be used to determine the state of an upgrade in progress.
In order to ensure consistency and compatibility with the Meraki Cloud, networks and devices running firmware older than the latest stable may be scheduled for an update. Notifications will be sent to administrators alerting them that the network has been scheduled for an upgrade from deprecated firmware. The upgrade can be rescheduled on the firmware upgrades tool.
New product release relation to firmware release
New products are publicly released with an initial stable firmware version which is typically progressing through the release process for the rest of the products within the family. The new-product stable firmware is fully supported and coexists with other products that may be running alternate beta or stable versions. The new-product stable firmware version is typically listed per-product in the relevant firmware change notes and is the stable firmware version for the new product until the entire network’s stable firmware version supersedes the new-product stable version. In the case where the network firmware version is an earlier release than the new-product firmware, the Meraki Dashboard will ensure the correct new-product firmware will be applied to the newly released products.