Managing fleets of connected devices with Phased Rollout

28th Jan 2020

Updating and deploying software to a large number of connected devices in the field with thousands or tens of thousands of devices, can pose a significant risk with negative repercussions.

Regardless of how well tested the software and update process is, you will only know how well the deployment works for your customers after it has been released into the field. Differences in time zones, network latency, hardware and customer usage patterns are all potential stumbling blocks preventing new software releases from behaving as expected. These factors can be impossible to predict. A failed update will result in negative customer experience and potentially high customer support costs. Worst case, collateral and brand damage might be at stake.

With Phased Rollout, you can greatly reduce risk: you can divide a software update deployment into time-delayed phases with customizable share of the devices being updated in each phase. For example, deploy to 5% of the devices, wait 24 hours, then 15%, wait 24 hours and then all the remaining devices. It gives you the ability to define a deployment plan based on your needs and risk levels.

You can monitor in detail the progress of your deployment in phases you have defined in your plan. If there are indications of problems such as update failures, higher error rates or increased customer support volumes, the update process can be aborted before it reaches a critical mass of your customers' devices -- greatly limiting negative impact during the deployment.

Mender Enterprise and Mender Professional offer completely customizable phased rollout deployment patterns, along the following axes:

  • Number of phases (typical choices are 3-4)
  • Share of devices in each phase (typically 5% -> 15% -> 80%)
  • Time delay between the start of each phase (typically 2 days)

You can customize these settings to your needs, depending on your risk tolerance and time you have to complete the entire phased rollout.

Watch a full video here to learn more about the features and Mender management UI.