Mar 092015
 

A New Dawn

Starting in January 2015, Avaya has changed it’s official policy with regards to Microsoft Hotfix updates to AACC servers. Prior to this policy update, all Microsoft Hotfixes were approved for installation only when tested and approved specifically by Avaya. There were numerous Hotfixes that were not approved and if those Hotfixes were installed, Avaya could (and sometimes did) decline to support the customer site. As of the January 2015 policy update, only those Hotfixes specifically listed by Avaya as not compatible are restricted from installation.

What this means for the traditional customer is that the standard IT Security policy of installing the latest Microsoft Hotfixes to ensure OS security is now part of the approved processes for Avaya Aura Contact Center Servers. As long as the Hotfix was released prior to the last published date of the bulletin, and as long as Avaya has not discovered a specific fault, the Hotfix is supported for installation on AACC systems.

As of this blog post, all Microsoft Hotfixes released by Microsoft on or before 10 Feb 2015 are approved for installation on Avaya Aura Contact Center, if the AACC is Release 6.4 SP14. Service Pack 14 was released mid-December 2014. For older systems (AACC SP13 or earlier, or any NES CC or Symposium systems), the older policy remains in force. Only those specifically tested and approved by Avaya are allowed to be installed, and for extremely old systems (NES CC or Symposium) installed on Windows 2003 Server or earlier operating systems, the Microsoft end of life is relevant.

Avaya Aura Contact Center runs on Windows 2008 Server R2 with specific server hardware engineering requirements. [Avaya credentials required] For more information about server specifications, please refer to the linked documentation or contact your support partner for assistance in ensuring hardware compliance.

Take Away

From a partner support perspective, this makes checking compatibility a much simpler endeavor– as long as the system is on SP14 or later, if the Hotfix isn’t listed then it’s OK to install. So the business partner need only look to see if any patches were installed after the “released before” date on the bulletin and only check those (or look for a limited number of specifically restricted hotfixes.)

From a customer support perspective, this ensures that AACC server OS security is capable of being much more current than it ever has been before in the history of the AACC product line.

This is great news for all concerned!

Recommendations

First, consult your support partner. Take their direction over anything you read on the internet. Installation of Service Packs for AACC is (these days) virtually a full dot release upgrade instead of the simple patch window we used to have with early AACC Service Packs or NES CC Service Updates. My experience is that instead of having a 2-5 hour window, windows are now consistantly 4-7 hours, and potentially much longer if the system is Highly Available. And that doesn’t even take into account the pre-upgrade engineering that is necessary to ensure you don’t upgrade and then find yourself exceeding the hardware requirements on the AACC’s Windows 2008 Server hardware.

Second, if you are on anything prior to AACC 6.4 Service Pack 14, you should update to SP14 ASAP. This addresses many of the most common and well known issues on the AACC. Similarly, if you are on anything prior to AACC 6.x you should upgrade now. Windows 2003 Server will soon reach end of life. This will obsolete NES CC6 and NES CC7 even more so than it is obsolete now (since those systems are “functionally stable” and there are no “corrective content” plans for this manufacture discontinued product version.) There are many reasons why you should upgrade, but to keep this focused on OS Security and Microsoft Hotfix compatibility, Windows 2008 Server will continue to receive additional Hotfix content. Windows 2003 Server, and earlier, will not.

Third, in the process of upgrading to SP14, you or your support partner should carefully review the readme to determine all of the known issues and known fixes for associated systems. There are engineering considerations on the PBX, PBX patches, Callpilot versioning (if you have ACCESS ports) and other considerations that should be taken into account. Some considerations aren’t part of the standard PBX DEPLIST, and by updating the DEPLIST the PBX patch required by the AACC Readme gets removed, resulting in recurring maintenance issues.