5 Reasons to Replace End-of-Life Hardware

All computer hardware has an expiration date. Generally, this date is set by the manufacturer and relates to how long the manufacturer will provide support and firmware updates for the product.  Firmware updates are how the manufacturers keep the system patched to prevent unauthorized access to the device.

Even if the hardware reaches its expiration date, that doesn’t mean the device stops working. This frame of reference will encourage many business owners to forgo the expense of replacing the device. It’s important to remember that hardware that has reached its end-of-life (EOL) date can have several consequences including vulnerability to bad actors. Let’s take a look at the different factors of keeping EOL hardware in use.

Diminished Productivity

Manufacturers of hardware such as switches, workstations, and firewalls typically set their EOL dates for 5-8 years after product creation.

Aging equipment has a much higher rate of failure than equipment that has not reached its end-of-life date. While the equipment is under warranty, parts, and support can be easily sourced. Once the expiration date has been reached, your business could be left without the device until it can be replaced. Servers and firewalls are not always devices that can be sourced very quickly, meaning your business could be down until the product is replaced.

Productivity loss can be isolated in some cases to one or two employees. If a workstation were to fully go out and another was not readily available, the loss of productivity is isolated and generally minimal as workstations can be easier to source. If your workforce is hybrid or predominantly remote, a firewall outage could mean a loss of productivity for several days. Server outages could be detrimental to the operation of your business, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware replacements and productivity losses.

Rising Maintenance Costs

Manufacturers estimate a certain amount of replacement parts for their hardware during the lifetime of the devices. During the support period for the product, these parts are used in warranty cases or buy-as-needed cases. As the EOL date approaches, manufacturers will no longer continue to create replacement parts and begin focusing on their new product line(s).

When the manufacturer no longer carries the component needed to get your equipment back in working order, other avenues are explored. From buying refurbished items to third-party manufacturing, replacing bits and pieces takes on a more haphazard approach. Across the industry, IT professionals refer to this as band-aiding a situation. Generally, this approach does not work to benefit the company in the long run and often ends with large last-minute expenditures in addition to costly downtime.

Non-Compliant Hardware

Many businesses that operate in the Department of Defense supply chain, the financial sector, and the medical sector are governed by compliance models. Once hardware reaches its EOL date, the equipment no longer meets the base requirements due to protection issues as defined in many compliance frameworks.

Hardware that reaches its EOL date and continues to run in an environment immediately makes the environment non-compliant. If your business faces compliance audits to maintain regulations, EOL hardware will provide an automatic failure. Data breaches that occur due to non-compliant hardware can result in consequences and/or penalties in the form of fines or litigation. In some cases, loss of compliance status could result in automatic forfeiture of projects until the company once again reaches compliance standards.

Compromised Data Security

End-of-life dates are hard dates when security patches and vulnerability assessments will no longer be created or performed for a device. During the life of the device, manufacturers are constantly going back through their configurations to identify and prevent unauthorized access to their devices. Once EOL has been achieved, bad actors begin to target devices to find what vulnerabilities were never fixed during the life of the device.

Bad actors will also manufacture new ways to break into older equipment. The longer they have with hardware, the more things that can be found over time. Without the manufacturer addressing these types of vulnerabilities as they occur, your equipment is highly susceptible to an attack. Exposure over time simply creates an “it’s not if, but when” scenario for a breach to occur.

Scalability Issues

It is not uncommon for companies to purchase hardware that is suitable for their current needs while maintaining what is perceived to be fiscal responsibility. As the company grows and the application of technology evolves to meet current business needs, end-of-life equipment can prove it is not capable of keeping up with the changes.

Companies that begin to use new types of accounting or productivity software often notice a sluggishness in their aged equipment. The equipment is not made to handle the new applications or cannot keep up with the need to run many applications at the same time. The greatest example of this happening was with Intel’s release of the processors: i3, i5, and i7. Businesses that spent the extra funds to have the i7 saw a longer return on investment on the hardware, while businesses that purchased the i5 generally needed to add or replace other components to keep the hardware running efficiently.  Most IT departments and service providers stopped recommending and offering the option of having the i3 models.

ERGOS Has You Covered

ERGOS is positioned to keep ahead of changes set forth by manufacturers to keep your business secure, compliant, and productive. Our goal as your strategic technology partner is to plan your IT roadmap, ensuring you are armed with the information needed to run and grow your business. Our experts look at your environment from all angles to make sure you are well informed about your business decisions to get the most out of your equipment. Call our offices today to discuss how ERGOS can focus on the technology while you grow your business.