stay on top of firmware updates
Semi regularly anyway ..
Up until I joined my present company and moved them out of public cloud into hosted infrastructure (HP Proliant) in 2011 firmware updates prior seemed to be problematic, difficult to keep track of and sometimes really difficult to apply.
Enter the Proliant Service Pack ISO image, combined with ILO virtual media really changed the game for me anyway in being able to easily apply firmware updates, and know what versions are installed, I can just tell support I am on PSP 2016.10 or something like that. All firmware components updated whether it is BIOS, ILO(out of band management), Power management firmware, Network cards, storage controllers, disk drives etc..
Oh what a joy.. in 2012 a flaw was discovered in the Qlogic (HP OEM) NICs, and HP had me apply firmware updates to them.. those updates weren't available through PSP(yet), so had to make I believe a custom boot CD (FreeDOS ?? or linux I forget), in order to apply the updates(ESX 4.1 was the server OS), took me several hours alone to just to build that, hadn't done that in years and my only access was remote over iLO virtual media. But I got it done.. it was a harsh reminder on how firmware updates used to go for me. Those Qlogic NICs eventually got replaced, manufacturing defect.
At a previous company in about 2009 they asked me to track down a performance issue on their Dell servers, ended up being related to Seagate drives, and there was a firmware fix(prior to that I think I had never NEEDED to apply a firmware update to a hard disk connected to a server) -- however the firmware fix had to be applied via DOS floppy boot disk (no fancy management on those servers). Hardware guy had to go to each one plug in USB floppy to update the firmware. Firmware update fixed the performance issue. Damn dell and their multi vendor setup, servers had at least 3 different brands of disks in them(even those bought within the same batch of gear). Company tried to troubleshoot the issue for a year prior to my arrival.
Earlier than that working with Supermicro gear.. just forget it.. I mean they even used to(maybe still do) specifically say DON'T DO FIRMWARE UPDATE unless you have a problem that support says is fixed by firmware. Not only that but they often didn't even put a list of changes in the firmware files(as someone who had purchased about 400 servers(2004-2005) with supermicro stuff I was pretty shocked). My last experience updating firmware on supermicro was (ironically) on my own personal server at a colo. To update the out of band management firmware the first step they say to do is to reset the configuration to defaults(really never a viable option for remote management). So I did, and I lost connectivity immediately. That was probably 2 or 3 years ago now, fortunately haven't had a failure since, haven't gone on site to try to fix it. Next step is to replace the system it is getting old.
I know in fancier setups with blades and stuff the process is even simpler and more automated(even more so for vmware shops to apply firmware and driver updates in the right order - fortunately I have never had an issue with driver/firmware versions). I have about 40 DL38x systems running about 1300 VMs nothing converged here, I apply firmware updates typically once per year. vs prior to the PSP servers would typically only get firmware updates when they were first built(if that), or unless there was a problem support said to apply a firmware fix.
I know there was one or two issues with PSP in the past year or so HP recalled one of the PSPs I think, didn't affect me I never get the latest one right away, always give it at least 1-3 months to bake in (which is on top of the time taken by the updates before they make it into the PSP).
Recently due to size constraints I guess HP split the PSPs out, so instead of 1 ISO, I have to use 1 for G7, one for G8, and one for G9/10 (I only have G7-9). Not that big of a deal though.
I had used HP gear back in 2003-2008 though as far as I recall there was no such easy PSP method to install firmware at the time.