A common question we get from our customers is “Which version of [Insert Rockwell Software Package] should I be using on my application?” Although Rockwell’s “current shipping” version is generally recommended for new applications, there are many factors that may make using a specific, earlier version a better choice.
Guidance for Rockwell software version anomalies and security vulnerabilities have always been available through both the Rockwell Knowledgebase and the Product Compatibility & Download Center (PCDC) website but figuring out the “known good version” of any Rockwell Software package has always been left to the customer’s discretion.
Rockwell Automation’s Product Compatibility & Download Center (PCDC) website now includes a “Version Lifecycle” for Rockwell Software, similar to the Lifecycle Status for hardware.
Rockwell Automation hardware Lifecycle Status is accessible via the Product Lifecycle Tool and lists these categories:
Now in the PCDC, software has four Lifecycle tiers that determine version availability and support as well:
These tiers are fairly “self-explanatory,” but here they are:
More importantly, here is the basic take away – If Rockwell labels a software version “Limited” or “Retired”, customers should consider upgrading to a “Preferred” or “Managed” version to avoid complications and support issues.
As of March (prior to this new system being instituted), many Rockwell Software packages had in excess of 50 versions available for download in the PCDC with little guidance as to where these versions were in their lifecycle. Studio 5000/RSLogix 5000, arguably the most “version dependent” package of Rockwell Software, had 56 different versions available for download. Now, with the Version Lifecycle to guide us, choosing the appropriate version has become much clearer.
Considering the complexities of managing software vulnerabilities in this constantly changing cybersecurity landscape, I can only speculate that Rockwell must have found it unsustainable to “support” software versions created over a decade ago in a much “simpler time.” Understandable.
The new Version Lifecycle guidance on the Product Compatibility and Download Center website should help customers answer the age-old question: “Which version should I be using?” by providing these new software version guidelines. For customers concerned about migrating from Retired and Limited versions to Preferred and Managed versions, Rumsey’s automation team can help.