The Basics of Managing EOL and EOSL Equipment

End of life (EOL) and end of service life (EOSL) equipment is equipment no longer supported by the original manufacturer. But what does this really mean for your business? And how should you be managing your EOL and EOSL equipment to save money and preserve business operations?

What Is EOL and EOSL Equipment?

It pays to be familiar with the end of life and end of service life dates for your hardware, but if you’re not familiar with these terms already, the concept may be confusing to you. Let’s clear up the differences between some very related, yet distinct terms.

The general availability (GA) or sale date of your piece of equipment is the date when the hardware is initially brought to market and made available for consumers to purchase. At this point, the original manufacturer will likely provide guarantees as well as support for both hardware and software.

At some point in the future, the OEM will announce that a piece of hardware or software is reaching the end of its life (EOL) or the end of sale (EOS). This typically means that the manufacturer is no longer making or selling this piece of equipment and they have plans to stop supporting it in the near future. If you need this piece of equipment, don’t worry too much; you’re still able to buy and sell used models of this on the secondary market, but you’ll never be able to buy it from the manufacturer directly again.

In most cases, EOL/EOS is associated with a phaseout that lasts five years. In other words, you’ll have five more years to get support from the original manufacturer before they no longer support this product.

You should also be familiar with end of development (EOD), which refers to an original manufacturer ending the development and production of the device’s original operating system. After EOD, you’ll no longer receive any software updates or firmware patches; you also won’t be able to pursue contract or support renewals.

What’s EOSL, then? EOSL stands for end of support life or end of service life, and is generally regarded as the true end of life for a piece of data center equipment. After this date, the OEM will no longer sell the equipment, provide an operating system for it, or renew support contracts on the hardware.

Options for Managing EOL and EOSL Equipment

What do you do when your equipment has reached the end of its life?

Most businesses have several options available to them, including:

  •       Renew your contracts with the OEM. Eventually, your original manufacturer will stop offering service and support for your equipment. But in some cases, you can still renew your contracts. Many business owners choose to go this route because it’s easy and convenient – assuming it’s available. However, OEM support is typically more expensive than a post-warranty maintenance agreement from a third party.
  •       Replace/upgrade your equipment. When your equipment reaches the end of its life, it’s an opportunity to review replacement and upgrade options that are available. Your equipment may be perfectly functional, but at the same time, there are probably newer, more technologically advanced options on the market that can still receive support from their original manufacturers. Due to supply chain constraints, you can also upgrade to a newer model than your current hardware that has already been in production for several years. Review your purchase and upgrade carefully.
  •       Do your own support. If you like the idea of keeping your own equipment, there’s nothing stopping you from continuing to operate and benefit from this equipment, even long after it’s no longer supported by its OEM. If you have talented tech professionals in your organization already, they may be able to repair and maintain your equipment independently. The hardest part of this equation will be keeping the necessary spares on hand, especially in the complicated supply chain atmosphere today.
  •       Work with a third party. Another option is to hire a third party who can provide product support even after the OEM stops supporting the product. Hiring an expert in IT lifecycle managementmight be exactly what your business needs.
  •       Start shopping preowned. If you’re considering purchasing this type of product or equipment in the future, be prepared to shop pre-owned. The product may no longer be available on the primary market, but you can still purchase it on the secondary market.

Additional Tips for Success

These additional tips can help you find success in EOL and EOSL equipment management:

  •       Keep an accurate inventory. Understand what you own, how it works, and how it’s supported – and keep that inventory up to date.
  •       Watch for OEM notifications. Your OEM will advise you of upcoming changes to the status of your registered products.
  •       Have multiple backup plans. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple layers of potential support available.

IT management would be much easier if all your technological assets lasted forever, with infinite OEM support. But in reality, it’s important to have plans in place to manage your EOL and EOSL equipment. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to stay on top of things if you’re actively working with a managed IT service provider.

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