My general sentiment on this is that unless you have a customer that needs a feature that only exists in 8x then you should stay at a stable version of 7x until 8.1 or something generally considered "safe harbor" comes along. I've been to several engineering meetings with Cisco about 8x and they have lots of plans - all of which are being worked on typically by different development teams with different deadlines and lifecycles. There have already been a number of 8x releases churned out by the BU's as they fit all the pieces together. If you give a look on the Bug Toolkit and search for open bugs - you'll find plenty and I can bet that a number of those were found not only during testing but also in production as well.
My 2 cents.
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I must go with my friend Hailey on this completely (+5 points "H")
Have a look at the 8.0 path since it's release 2 months ago, it doesn't
look too stellar with some releases being Deferred after only 6 days.
It must be insanely buggy!
Visual aids are always helpful! Thanks Rob (+5 to you buddy). A few months ago we attempted to trend the releases of the CUCM appliance model versions (5.1 and later, 5.0 was a nightmare). We were looking at minor releases (e.g. 8.0(2)), re-releases (e.g. 8.0(2b)) and service releases within a main-line release train (e.g. 8.0). In some instance we saw very rapid re-releases. I believe the 7.1(2) train was an example but I don't have my notes in front of me. We found the average to be between 30 and 45 days, IF there was going to be a re-release or service update.
So, this has led to our general rule that we don't seriously consider a version FOR TESTING until it has been out between 30 - 45 days. Ideally, 45 but some people are just impatient. THEN, we commit to this version and test it out in the lab. Even if another release comes on CCO we do not switch unless it is an absolutely critical fix.
So, I would not load 8.0 in a production environment. Working with it in the lab is a good idea if you think you need/want some of the new features (like LDAP customization, integration with ADAM, SAF, IME, etc.). If you have a lower environment then I would be a little more conservative simply because you don't want to drive yourself crazy and/or waste time.
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+5 points for your excellent tips here, these rules can really prevent
a ton of misery for the client and support people alike!
You are correct as well about 7.1(2). It was Deferred after 1 or 2 days
due to the "switch version" problem which was just a bit of a "show stopper"