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When a network device reaches the end of its supported life, it will not receive operating system updates or bug fixes.
What this means for an organization is that if a networking device is critical to its day-to-day business, it should be replaced before it reaches its announced end-of-support date. This is especially critical if your business is dependent on locally hosted applications that your workforce and clients need to access directly from your network.
A recent survey by IT consulting firm Softchoice of more than 200 organizations found that 60% of businesses have devices that are nearing end-of-life. In addition, the survey found 95% of businesses have end-of-sale devices operating on their networks. These devices are no longer available on the market, but are still supported (for the time being) by the manufacturer.
Keeping network hardware up to date
Keeping your network hardware up to date and under support will ensure you are receiving critical security updates, bug fixes, and that you have technical support and product replacement at the ready. It will also keep unplanned downtime to a minimum and ensure any operating system-based security threats are mitigated.
For devices that may not be critical to everyday operations, some organizations may choose to continue using network components beyond their end-of-sale or end-of-support date. This can be feasible for companies that have a higher tolerance for downtime or are using the hardware for nonessential work or in test environments. However, it must always be kept in mind that these devices will eventually need to be replaced.
When a device enters end-of-sale, count on a period of two to five years before the manufacturer no longer supports it. To that end, companies must plan and budget accordingly to replace those components before supplier support ends. To do that, companies should closely monitor where their network devices sit within their lifecycle, planning replacements as needed to reduce the chance of catastrophic failure.
About the author
David Brisbois is senior manager of assessment and technology deployment services consulting at Softchoice.
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