Friday, March 7, 2008

One OS or several OSs across your product line? – Which is better

After a long time since my last post; a comment by Juniper's founder about Cisco having too many operating system versions sparked my interest for the subject. I decided to do some research and thought, and came to the following conclusion:

"A single OS across multiple platforms shortens the product lifecycle of the entire product portfolio and is inversely proportional to it in adverse levels"

What this means is that as the product portfolio grows, having one Operating System is unfavorable for the customer who has to upgrade more frequently if he/she wants to stay current. That is, because the product lifecycle gets shorter and shorter as new products affect them. For example, if you have two products with one OS, then it is beneficial: it brings consistency, and helps to solve problems for both products at the same time. When you introduce a third and a forth product, that incorporates more variables that are prone to bugs; therefore new code needs to come more frequently. That is for the entire product portfolio because they are all running the same code. When you have one hundred products, all running the same code, a bug or issue found on one of those 100 product causes the other 99 to get a new OS as well, leaving your customer to update the OS more frequently.

In other words, it simply does not scale. You have to find the balance of how many versions you can have, to satisfy a reasonable update cycle for your customer.

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