Selection Questions to Ask a Network Equipment Vendor

By Walter J. Goralski, Cathy Gadecki, Michael Bushong

Consider reviewing the software development processes of vendors as a part of your evaluation of new network and security equipment, because it can save you time and money down the road. Here are some questions that you can ask vendors about their software development processes:

  • Software versions: Find out how many different software versions exist for the products you are buying, and ask why the different versions exist. Know the differences between versions, and when to use one version versus another. Also, ask about the support and end of life policies for each version.

  • New features: Ask what steps do development engineers follow when adding new features. How do they support changes and fixes to the features in different software versions or release trains? You also want to know how they decide which features to add to which version?

  • Fixes: Ask about the steps for adding fixes to the code. What procedures ensure that a new fix is a part of all releases, including those in the future? In what types of releases are fixes available and how often?

  • Testing: Find out how the vendor tests newly developed features (and fixes). What guidelines determine when a release is ready for customers? How thoroughly is each type of release tested before being released to customers? Ask whether a new release can affect previously working features, and find out whether the vendor’s testing includes use-cases to assess how features interact. Ask how the vendor performs performance and scalability testing.