One of the brutal realities of IT is the fact that hardware is phased out relatively quickly within the industry. No matter how much time and effort you put into the selection or how well the product works for you, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may choose to discontinue production and sale of that hardware within three to five years of release. This discontinuation date is called End of Life or EoL. While this short lifespan is typical to the OEM, it often doesn’t meet the needs or desires of businesses using the hardware — many companies will choose to continue using their hardware after the manufacturer has ceased production.
However, the next step of the hardware lifecycle is End of Service Life, or EoSL, a much more final cessation of service from the OEM. Understanding what EoSL is and how to prepare for it will help your business better understand the equipment lifecycle and make more informed decisions regarding your IT hardware.
What Is EoSL?
End of Service Life is the final phase of a product’s lifecycle that usually comes six to 12 years after the product is released. At this point, the manufacturer no longer produces or sells the hardware, and it is ceasing any maintenance and support services, including firmware updates. If the provider offers any continued support for the hardware, it likely comes at a significantly increased cost and will probably be temporary.
So why does the manufacturer declare an EoSL date? Mostly, the reason is to push progress. EoSL dates come after a piece of hardware has been out for a long time, and the manufacturer has new technologies and product lines to sell. Setting an EoSL date creates a cutoff of service that pushes customers to purchase new products and decreases the number of hardware products OEM support staff need to be able to service regularly. While these practices are frustrating for users, they’re what OEMs need to do to remain profitable.
Some issues that arise when a product reaches EoSL include the following:
- Decreased hardware performance
- Software compatibility issues
- Security weaknesses, though patches may still come through or be available from other sources
- Lower operating efficiency
Because of these issues, it’s important to know what the EoSL date is for your hardware and where your equipment is in the IT life cycle. While your business can use End of Service Life hardware best practices to extend the use of your hardware, you should start looking and budgeting for new products once your hardware hits its EoSL date. Technology advances quickly, and using outdated hardware leaves your business open to vulnerabilities and prevents you from taking advantage of the latest IT capabilities.
EoSL vs. EoL
One of the common questions that comes up when discussing product lifecycles is how EoL differs from EoSL. Essentially, the primary difference is in service offerings. They are defined in more detail below:
- EoL: End of Life indicates that the manufacturer has declared the end of production for that hardware. After the EoL date, the OEM stops producing, marketing, selling and refurbishing that product. However, the OEM will continue providing maintenance services for existing equipment. The EoL for hardware generally comes three to six years after product release.
- EoSL: End of Service Life is when the manufacturer will cease support altogether for a product line. As of the EoSL date, the OEM will not offer any more maintenance or support. In rare cases, minimal support will continue at a significantly increased price. The EoSL usually comes six to 12 years after product release.
Besides the service aspect, EoL and EoSL are relatively close in meaning. The difference in date, however, varies, often based on the popularity of the product and the availability of replacement parts. Sometimes EoSL follows EoL very closely, especially for less popular products or hardware with more limited releases and fewer replacement parts. However, the difference in EoSL may be longer if the product was especially popular or more widely produced, as replacement parts will be more abundant for these product lines. Generally speaking, however, EoSL will follow EoL by one to six years.
What Happens When a System Reaches EoSL?
While companies can still operate relatively the same after their hardware has reached EoL, many things change after the EoSL date. The manufacturer will no longer support the product, which means the following for your company:
- Exorbitant support rates: OEMs will often increase their support rates after they’ve announced EoL on a product line, but they’ll certainly increase their rates once a product reaches the EoSL date — often, they’ll end service entirely. OEMs don’t make money on maintenance — they make money on product sales — so it is more profitable for them to charge exorbitant prices for service on old products and encourage users to upgrade. If the OEM ceases service entirely, customers using the product will have to turn to expensive repair services.
- Diminished part supplies: New part supplies tend to diminish after production stops. During the two or three years your product is under warranty, the OEM as plenty of access to new parts and components. However, after production stops, OEMs do not have access to certified quality parts. While more refurbished parts tend to hit the secondhand market after a product reaches EoL and companies start to upgrade, it’s not profitable for OEMs to search for and certify these parts.
- Outdated firmware: After EoL, the OEM typically stops updating the firmware for that product. In the rare event that the OEM continues updating the firmware, they will certainly stop after the EoSL date. This means that users will have to install security patches themselves instead of relying on the OEM.
After the EoSL date, OEMs effectively limit the options for companies still using the product. The choice to upgrade is simple for those prepared to make the switch, but many companies aren’t fully ready for EoSL. Maybe their hardware is working perfectly well for them at the moment, or they haven’t had enough time to find and test a new product that meets all their needs. Those customers who aren’t ready to upgrade often feel backed into a corner — either they need to upgrade before they need or want to or pay high fees for OEM services or internally-facilitated repairs. However, your company has options if you prepare for EoSL properly.
How to Prepare for EoSL
When your OEM announces what the EoSL date is for your hardware, start preparations immediately. Below are some most basic steps and tips for End of Service Life preparation:
- Get the details: Read the EoSL announcement thoroughly and collect any essential details such as what the EoSL date is and if any services will be available after that date. Also, be sure to check if any related products are nearing their EoL or EoSL that may also be in your IT equipment.
- Learn the equipment: Learn more about the equipment that is reaching EoSL. What maintenance issues has your company encountered with it in the past? What are the common repair needs for this piece of equipment? How expensive are those repairs?
- Look for maintenance options: If you choose to keep your equipment past the EoSL date, you need to handle maintenance. You can handle maintenance internally with one or more trained specialists in your IT department, or you can hire a third party. Third-party maintenance (TPM) can be an affordable solution to this problem, offering comprehensive maintenance at a lower cost than an internal specialist or OEM.
These steps can help extend the life of your hardware long past the EoSL date. However, keep in mind that you will eventually need to upgrade. Hardware doesn’t last forever, and refusing to upgrade means you may not be taking advantage of the most recent advancements in IT capabilities. Be sure to weigh the cost and benefit of upgrading versus sticking with your old hardware regularly, and start doing research and testing for upgrades as soon as your company is ready.
Work With a Third-Party Maintenance Provider
If your company isn’t ready to upgrade and wants to extend the life of your EoSL hardware, TPM providers offer a cost-effective solution. TPM services provide support, expert advice and repair services to help maintain your equipment long after the OEM stops offering support. They can even replace parts using trusted secondhand channels, so you can keep your equipment for as long as you need it. By working with a TPM, your company gains the flexibility it needs to make upgrades on your schedule, not when your OEM thinks you should.
Some of the specific benefits of working with a TPM provider include the following:
- Extended hardware lifespan: Even though the manufacturer has declared a product’s EoSL, that doesn’t make the equipment useless. If your hardware is well-maintained, your company can keep using it for as long as you need it. TPM services can help with maintenance and repair to extend your hardware’s lifespan to meet your needs.
- Timeline flexibility: Manufacturer EoSL dates don’t always come at a convenient time. Maybe the EoSL date happens when your company doesn’t have the extra capital to invest in upgrades or during a busy season when an upgrade would disrupt your operations. Perhaps your company has narrowed down your upgrade options but won’t have completed testing by the EoSL date. No matter what is going on with your company, your schedule shouldn’t be dictated by the manufacturer. Working with a TPM ensures that your equipment is maintained past the EoSL date and until your company is fully ready for an upgrade.
- High-quality parts: If your company is doing repairs internally, you may not have access to high-quality replacement parts. TPM services work with OEMs and trusted manufacturers and refurbishment specialists to get the parts you need for a quality repair.
- Experienced repair specialists: TPM specialists are experts in their field with extensive experience with a range of products. They have the resources and equipment to get the repair done, as well as the knowledge to do it right.
- Customer-specific attention: OEMs specialize in equipment, but TPMS specialize in service. TPM specialists focus on providing comprehensive and quick repair services for their clients, minimizing downtime while servicing a wider range of products. Many TPM programs even allow you to customize your service model so you only pay for what you need.
- Reduced costs: TPM companies are significantly less expensive to work with than a post-EoL OEM service team. According to a 2016 Gartner report, TPMs save customers an average of 60% compared to OEM support pricing, with savings ranging from 50% to 95% the OEM price. With specialized skills and faster turnarounds, TPM companies can provide cost-effective results while helping you save money on equipment.
These benefits are attractive to any company facing an EoL or EoSL date, but be sure to work with the right TPM provider. There are two types of TPMs — traditional TPM and secondary hardware suppliers. Traditional TPM companies are independent support contractors that specialize in maintenance. Secondary hardware suppliers, on the other hand, offer support as well as hardware resales. Be sure to look into a TPM’s focus and ensure that it aligns with your goals before working with them.
Partner With Worldwide Services
When it comes to EoSL management, you need a TPM company you can trust. Whether you’re looking for online technical support or a comprehensive maintenance solution, Worldwide Services can help.
Worldwide Services provides comprehensive TPM support with the NetGuard program. NetGuard offers support for over 200 current and legacy lines of OEM products from a range of brands from large to small. With our services, you retain full control over your equipment and data while our experts provide 24/7 support access. Best of all, with NetGuard, you an save up to 50% on maintenance costs. With our established presence in the industry and a proven track record, you can rely on NetGuard to meet all your needs for third-party management.
Protect your hardware investment and save money with NetGuard’s comprehensive TPM solution. For more information on NetGuard and how Worldwide Services can benefit your company, contact us today.