Imagine if you got a message from the manufacturer of your hardware saying they were discontinuing support for one of the most vital parts of your company. That would be a frustrating message to hear, and one that may send you scrambling for a solution. You might think you have to buy the latest hardware to continue receiving support. Or, you may think you’ll be stuck struggling with old, outdated equipment until you can convince higher-ups to spend money on new hardware. Fortunately, these aren’t your only options.
If you get a notice like this from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), it typically means the equipment is entering one of two stages: End of Life (EoL) or End of Service Life (EoSL). So how is EoL different than EoSL? Keep reading to find out what these terms mean and how a third-party maintenance (TPM) solution can help you minimize their effects.
What Is EoL?
As the term suggests, an EoL product is at its End of Life. This typically means the manufacturer will not be producing any more of the item. The OEM might have a new generation coming up or a completely different product they want to focus on, so halting production allows them to refocus funds toward new developments. Usually, the OEM will still offer maintenance and post-warranty support on EoL products. The firmware is typically stable by this point, so you probably won’t have any updates or patches come through.
If your product has reached its EoL, it may be a good time to put new hardware on your radar. You can typically still get a few more years out of it — especially with the help of TPM — but eventually, you will need to get something new. Since substantial hardware updates often require significant capital, make sure the decision-makers know about potential replacement costs in the upcoming years. Advance notice may make the transition more manageable when you do need to purchase new hardware.
Another reason to stay on top of the life cycle of your equipment is to maximize resale value. For instance, you might have a product that currently has excellent resale value. If the OEM announces it is going EoL, it quickly loses value when the manufacturer stops offering the product, accessories and support. By staying up-to-date with EoL status announcements, you can more appropriately gauge and plan for resale.
What Is EoSL?
In looking at End of Life vs. End of Service Life, support is the biggest differentiating factor. The EoSL label is a little more final than EoL. At this stage, the OEM stops selling the product and won’t offer any more maintenance or support. If they do support the hardware in some way, they may charge you greatly for the service. You also won’t see firmware updates or patches for the product.
By this point, a piece of hardware has likely been out for a while, and the OEM might be trying to push a new technology or product line. Like with EoL products, you’ll want to keep new hardware in your sights. You can maximize your use for a while after the EoSL designation, but the product will probably still be on its way out the door. Technology advances quickly and, depending on the hardware, yours might become outdated rapidly.
Some issues that can pop up when a product reaches EoSL without you noticing include the following:
- Decreased performance
- Software compatibility issues
- Security weaknesses, though patches may still come through or be available through other sources
- Lower operating efficiency
Always be aware which stage of the IT life cycle your equipment is in so you can budget efficiently. In addition to saving you time and money, appropriately managing your EoSL equipment can be more convenient. For instance, updating your servers at the wrong time, like your busiest month, could be a real pain — slowing productivity and adding stress to the workday. It requires downtime, investment and change. TPM can help you manage your hardware until you’re ready to switch.
What Is the Difference Between EoL and EoSL?
One of the main differences between EoL and EoSL products is service offerings. While the OEM may still offer support for EoL products, EoSL products no longer receive support. You’ll have to go through TPM or another service provider for any kind of assistance since the OEM has cut EoSL products off completely.
Aside from the maintenance aspect, the terms “End of Life” and “End of Service Life” are relatively close in meaning. Both signal the OEM cutting ties with the product and reducing or eliminating support. Usually, they do this to push marketing and development efforts for a new product. Plus, by eliminating or reducing support on the old product, they can often convince companies to upgrade before it is really necessary.
OEMs aren’t service companies. They make a profit by turning around new products and generating upgrades. OEMs charge a high amount for EoL services for a few reasons:
- Their business model is not intended for long-term service. The high prices of their policy keep things profitable for them. Remember, they generally want to focus on creating and selling products, not servicing existing ones.
- Their part supply diminishes after production stops. As OEMs run out of refurbished parts, they may have trouble procuring necessary components. During your initial warranty phase, which is usually two or three years after the purchase date, manufacturers have plenty of access to these components and often supply you with new ones as needed. The further your product gets from the EoL date, the harder and more expensive it is to get certified, quality parts.
What Can Your Organization Do With EoL or EoSL Equipment?
You might feel backed into a corner if your products are deemed EoL or EoSL. It may seem like you have to get a new product if you want to continue getting any support, which means spending money and losing the value of the old hardware. If you keep your equipment, you’ll have to proceed without OEM support. But how will you deal with technical difficulties or breakdowns? And how can you be confident that your hardware will work properly as new software, technology and security concerns arise?
In some cases, the OEM might offer you a “solution” with an exorbitant price for continued services. These prices may rise over time as the OEM expands further and further away from your product. Another “solution” you may try to adopt is to keep the hardware but attempt to handle maintenance and repairs on your own. That service often requires a higher level of expertise, and it also costs you money in terms of your IT department. You may need to hire someone to do that work and may struggle to find the right parts. For the same price, there are other options available that may fit your business better.
Third-Party Maintenance (TPM) Solutions
A TPM company can step in when the OEM support ends and keep your hardware running smoothly for years after its EoL or EoSL. Just because manufacturers like Cisco and HP have stopped supporting a piece of hardware, doesn’t mean the hardware can’t continue to support your business.
You might not be ready for a sizable new purchase, especially if your existing equipment is working just fine. You can significantly extend the life of your EoL or EoSL hardware by looking to TPM. A TPM service can step in and perform repairs or fixes as needed long after the OEM’s support ends.
TPM companies typically have access to OEM parts through trusted channels or the OEMs themselves. They can provide expert service at the same or higher level of care as the OEM, but at a much lower cost. TPM solutions often exceed the original service level agreement, which can allow you to free up capital and use your hardware as you see fit.
Some of the benefits of working with TPM programs include the following.
1. Extended Hardware Lifespan
When a manufacturer stops offering support for a product, the equipment is not suddenly useless. It still maintains much of its original value, and if the product works for your company, it is convenient to keep using it. As long as there aren’t any glaring issues with the hardware or problems with its place in your company’s infrastructure, you can stretch your initial investment and keep the product working longer with TPM.
2. Sticking to Your Own Schedule
Maybe your hardware is going to reach its EoSL at a time when your company doesn’t have much extra capital to spend on upgrades. Or maybe it will happen during your busy season when a hardware upgrade might be too disruptive. Regardless of when it happens, you shouldn’t have to alter your schedule because of the manufacturer.
You have your own business to run and your schedule to balance. Plus, you don’t want to be rushed into a hasty decision because you feel like you need new hardware. By continuing to use your existing equipment with the help of TPM, you can choose to upgrade when you’re ready. You can prepare for the transition and have your finances in order before purchasing new equipment.
3. High-Quality Repairs
If you’re working on hardware yourself, you may not have easy access to OEM parts and may have to turn to less-than-trustworthy manufacturers to get what you need. Working with TPM entails more access to trusted parts that will work with your equipment. Plus, the technicians performing the repairs are experts in the field and may be more familiar with the equipment than in-house techs.
4. Lower Costs
Avoid the sky-high prices for post-EoL OEM services by working with a TPM company. With much lower prices and a similar skill set, they can get the job done without charging a premium.
In addition to savings, the scope of work included with TPM may be more expansive or personalized than what is offered by your OEM. You also get to push back the cost of new equipment. While an upgrade will still be necessary at some point, TPM can help keep it at bay.
5. Attention to Your Needs
While an OEM specializes in their equipment, TPM programs can focus more on the needs of your company. They might be able to perform a repair in a way that creates as little downtime as possible or offer more encompassing services that can provide a better deal. Some TPM options, like Worldwide Services, let you purchase only the services you need. You can even create a hybrid model with elements of OEM and TPM support if that’s what fits your business.
What to Look for in a TPM Program
TPM is an excellent solution for EoL or EoSL hardware that you’re not ready to part with. It can help you extend the value of these tools and ensure you get to upgrade whenever you’re ready — not when your OEM says you should.
One factor to keep in mind when selecting TPM is the type of organization it is. According to Gartner, you can find two kinds of TPM:
- Traditional TPM: Traditional TPM companies are independent support contractors that make most of their money from annual support contracts. They are typically more established and have investment funding.
- Secondary hardware suppliers: Some TPM companies make most of their money from the resale of hardware. Many in this category started as resellers before offering TPM, so they have typically been around for a shorter time.
Traditional TPM companies tend to have the advantage of more experience and a devoted maintenance focus.
Whether you only need online technical support or you want a comprehensive maintenance solution, Worldwide Services can help. Our experts work to provide 24/7 access to assistance that fits your business needs. Our NetGuard program offers TPM support for over 200 current and legacy lines of OEM products from major manufacturers like Cisco and HP as well as lesser-known brands.
Partner With Worldwide Services
When it comes to maintaining EoL products, you need a company you can trust. We allow you to retain full control over your equipment, so all your sensitive data stays where you want it. Plus, you can save up to 50% on maintenance costs when implementing NetGuard. Paired with an established presence in the industry and our proven track record, NetGuard is a trustworthy, reliable option.
Our TPM solution can help protect your hardware investment and save you money. For more information on how Worldwide Services can benefit your company, contact us today.