There is a lot of confusion on how vendors retire their IT solutions. I’m going to try to clear up some of that confusion. The focus here is the IT hardware lifecycle, but many times software vendors follow a similar pattern.
First, let’s use some precise terms. I hear/read “EOS” all the time. Does EOS mean End of Sale? Or does it mean End of Support? As you’re going to read here, those two terms mean very different things. I also don’t like EOL, End of Life. Does a product go EOL when it stops being sold, or when it stops being supported? Again, two very different dates. When life ends is a sensitive subject, far too deep for IT hardware and software. If it isn’t clear what is being referenced, End of Sale or End of Support, you may end up SOL. I’ll use very clear terms in this article. Let’s get started.
With almost all vendors the product lifecycle process goes like this.
- New product is released. It is actively being sold and fully supported. You can buy support contracts and more units as needed. There are no restrictions.
- Eventually, the vendor stops selling that product. I call that the End of Sale date. Most vendors do not pre-warn you of the End of Sale date, they don’t want sales of that short-life product to stall.
- When they announce End of Sale, they start the End of Support clock. End of Support usually means no software updates, no hardware replacement, no phone support. The normal gap between End of Sale and End of Support is five full years. Meaning, if you buy the very last unit of something going End of Sale, you can continue to buy support contracts for five years, the normal lifespan of IT gear. If a vendor doesn’t offer a full five years of support after their gear goes End of Sale, beware, I don’t consider this business class gear.
- During the time between End of Sale and End of Support, you get full support if you keep your contract in place. You get software updates and phone support per the terms of your support contract. If the solution includes hardware, the manufacturer will replace any failed gear with the same model. They stockpile gear so they have replacements for a minimum of 5 years. They stopped selling the gear, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t hold onto some units for replacements. They will leverage refurbished equipment for replacements.
- When the gear goes End of Support, you can *not* buy an OEM support contract. The vendor is done with that product, full stop. There are third-party companies that will provide support after that date, but it wouldn’t include software updates. Only the original vendor can provide software updates. But phone support and hardware replacement may be enough. TNS has relationships with such third-party vendors.
TNS is known for its laser focus on IT vendor support contracts. We’ll track them for you, remind you when the renewal is coming due, and warn you when the product is going End of Support. We built a custom database and application to track support contract renewals. Keep that production gear under support so the vendor will help in your time of need.
Author: Dave Norwood
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