By Michael Yost, SSCS Digital Marketing & Design Manager

The day I bought my first car was one of the happiest days of my life. The idea of the freedom it gave me was overwhelming. Then one day while driving to the mall my engine gave a weird noise and an even weirder smell and then it stopped moving. The true price of having a car shattered the glow of new vehicle ownership. Wanting nothing but the best, I did as most think to do and went to a dealership.

We all have heard about the untrustworthy local garage mechanic who will take advantage of those who know nothing about cars so I needed to avoid that. In my mind a dealership would never do such a thing. I miss the days of naïve youth, but unfortunately this mindset has been engrained into the consumer – in every industry – with data center hardware manufacturers being no different.

Such marketing tactics and strategic falsehoods are their strongest tools when it comes to getting the most money out of customers. So, below are some of the methods they use to scare you into staying with them for post warranty maintenance or purchasing new hardware.

The Manufacturers Know Their Product the Best

The reality is that most hardware OEMs will send new-hires to training programs and then send them to your data center to practice their new skills. It is all well and good that OEMs want to have the best service techs and want to provide them in-the-field training, but for the dollar amount that end-user companies are paying for this equipment support, not many would be comfortable with rookie engineers getting training on their mission critical hardware.

OEM hardware support fees become significantly more expensive at the end of the warranty, and are often prohibitively expensive after Year 5, before it is ended altogether and cannot be purchased at any price. The OEM makes their greatest profit on the hardware sale and first three years of hardware support. At the completion of the warranty period, they risk losing the revenue stream. So, to help their bottom line, they force you into the upgrade cycle. Meaning 85% of organizations discard legacy equipment despite the equipment continuing to meet service level needs because their current vendors no longer support it – or won’t support it at a fair price.

Consider your options for maintaining the overall health of your IT systems. Your systems probably consist of a wide variety of manufactures that are not just being provided by one vendor.

You Need New Hardware to Keep Up with Customer Demands and Changing Environments

When you start thinking it is time to upgrade, ask yourself some questions about your current hardware.

• What are you hoping to gain?
• Is there an application you’re hoping to deploy (because it provides measurable competitive advantage) and this application unable to run on your legacy systems?
• Can I expect improved reliability?
• Will it support the next trend or widget (does it need to)?
• Better cost-per-performance economics?

Upgrading to a new processor or server architecture can have a big impact on when you should be upgrading. If you go in too early you may be subject to bugs (OS-related) and other errors. Early adopters tend to pay much more than those with a conservative approach. If there are outages, even extended outages caused by unproven hardware/OS, can you afford the risk in down time? Do you want your end users to experience the side effects of a risky choice?

Yesterday’s 3 to 5-year upgrade cycle is over. YOUR upgrade cycle is reliant on YOUR needs. Hardware manufacturers and your peers are working refresh cycles of their own. Use more than a calendar to time your upgrades. You have the knowledge of your business and your industry. Moore’s Law is dead. Too often those in IT upgrade their equipment when there is no need to align with the expectations of external forces.

You May Lose Access to Firmware/Microcode Updates

While it is true that once hardware is out of manufacturer warranty it has often reached “stable state” and not likely to see many more OS patch updates. However, by Year 4-5, such OS updates are typically long over, and the OEM is about to announce “End of Support” dates. It should be known that most hardware may see one more security update between Year 3-4, but after that time, most updates only include “feature enhancements.”

These might be nice to have but are not essential. Most importantly, after the warranty expires, you are not at all likely to see updates that improve the performance of your equipment. All that said, some hardware should stay with the OEM between Year 3 and Year 4 for those security patches. But, remember, this does NOT apply to all hardware assets. But, certainly by Year 4, you really don’t need the OEM!

To put it simply, there are many factors that go into the decision to hang on to aging hardware or to upgrade. The only person who fully understands those factors is YOU and your company. When the OEM comes knocking showing their newest, make sure you consider it on your terms and needs, not theirs.

Michael Yost, SSCS Digital Marketing & Design Manager

This is Michael’s third year with SSCS, but he has been actively involved in html programming, website construction, SEO, graphic design and proactively driving social/digital engagement since he was in his early teens. In addition to his role at SSCS, he serves as an adjunct professor of digital marketing and design at a local community college in Houston, Texas. In his spare time, Michael loves engaging his family in outdoor activities and games that build creativity. He is also a life-long student of humor in the western cultures.

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