What does EOL or End of Life Mean for My Business?

A lot of companies today continue to use outdated technologies, even though it’s a dangerous practice. In fact, one study revealed that out of 349 breached companies, 58 percent were found using end of life (EOL) products.

EOL refers to the date when a vendor discontinues standard support services (e.g., issue updates, maintenance, and customer support) for a particular product. In other words, it refers to the expiration of the hardware or software of the product, including the services associated with it.

What is End of Life for Software?

Any product has a four-stage life cycle: development, growth, maturity, and decline. When software or an application reaches the decline phase of the product life cycle, end of life is near. And when it reaches its end of life, you can no longer rely on patches, updates, or even the technical support representative that helps you address issues with the product.

While you can still use the software after its expiration, you could put your company to a broad range of risks, which include the following:

Increased security risks

Because obsolete software no longer receives bug fixes, patches, and security upgrades, your company’s security is totally compromised. Hackers or competitors can easily infiltrate your software using a virus or malware and steal your sensitive information.

Regulatory/legal compliance issues

If you store sensitive data in EOL software, you may not be compliant with applicable laws and regulations, including HIPAA, SOX, and PCI. Keeping sensitive data, such as customer information, within software that has reached its end of life is unsafe because it’s vulnerable to cyberattacks. If your company experiences a data breach that compromises your customer’s personal information, you could face legal issues, big fines, and even company shutdown.

Compatibility issues

While this is usually a minor issue, it’s very frustrating when someone sends you a file that is not compatible with your software. Imagine sending your clients a document made in Word 2010 and having all the formatting fall apart because they’re using Office 365.

Decreased reliability

Outdated software slowly deteriorates over time and doesn’t perform as efficiently as before. This reduces productivity and puts your company at risk of losing sensitive data or incurring costly downtime.

High operating cost

As your company’s technology system becomes outdated and starts to cause more problems, the cost of maintaining it increases. This can quickly become a burden to your company, especially if you’re trying to keep budgets under control.

What is End of Life for Hardware?

When it comes to PCs, servers, and other hardware, end of life indicates that the equipment is at the end of its “useful lifespan”—from the original equipment manufacturer’s point of view—and the manufacturer stops selling, marketing, or refurbishing it.

While the manufacturer will continue to provide maintenance on the existing EOL equipment, it will only last for a short period of time. When the manufacturer announces a product’s EOL, this generally starts a five-year phase-out of the equipment.

Like EOL software, problems can also occur if you continue using hardware after its End of Life. Here’s a look at some of these problems:

No replacement parts

Manufacturers will no longer make replacement parts for EOL equipment. While it’s possible to purchase excess inventory for a few years after the product’s EOL, you may have no options for repair through the manufacturer once the parts run out.

Security risk

When a manufacturer announces the EOL status of a product, it’s likely that patches, security fixes, and firmware updates for the equipment will be reduced or eliminated. This causes significant security risk and leaves your company’s network vulnerable to cyber threats.

Higher maintenance cost

Because EOL equipment’s replacement parts or accessories are discontinued, they can be very challenging and expensive to find as time goes by. Sometimes, companies hire third-party consultants and support teams that create temporary solutions for more complex issues. This can make using EOL equipment even more expensive in the long-run, compared to replacing it with a newer one.

Scalability issues

EOL equipment cannot meet the growing needs of your company. Your IT team should make use of newer and more advanced hardware as the volume and complexity of your company’s data increase. This will allow them to leverage technological improvements in such areas as energy consumption, data processing, and modularity.

Protecting your company from EOL issues

End of life is a very serious problem for your company’s technology. To protect your business from EOL issues, you should keep track of any EOL announcements from the manufacturer and create an EOL migration plan. This should include a priority list for any outdated products to replace based on your company’s needs and security risk. If you have a large IT system, you should first test the replacements to identify potential problems before they affect your network or users.

If you would like to learn more about upgrading your IT software and equipment, contact one of our experts today.