HP ends free updates for out-of-warranty servers
HP is to stop providing firmware updates for ProLiant servers, unless the hardware is within warranty, or covered by a Care Pack Service or support agreement. The cut-off date for free updates is 19 February.
“This decision reinforces our goal to provide access to the latest HP firmware, which is valuable intellectual property, for our customers who have chosen to maximize and protect their IT investments,” said vice president of server support Mary McCoy in a post on the HP website, oddly titled “Customers for life”.
We know this is a change from how we’ve done business in the past; however, this aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners
“We know this is a change from how we’ve done business in the past; however, this aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners.”
Forcing customers to buy support to receive important firmware updates isn’t standard industry practice, according to a blog post from network management consultant Lindsay Hill – although HP isn’t alone in shifting that way.
Hill noted that Dell freely allows firmware downloads, and Cisco merely requires users to log in, although IBM has since January required “entitlement validation” before access to firmware is allowed.
HP’s McCoy stressed that there will be no additional charge for updates for those who are covered by a warranty or support package. HP’s ProLiant Twitter feed suggested that security updates would still be freely available.
“Our customers under warranty or support coverage will not need to pay for firmware access, and we are in no way trying to force customers into purchasing extended coverage,” she said. “That is, and always will be, a customer’s choice.”
However, as ZDNet has pointed out, warranties for some of HP’s lower-end SMB servers last only a year – and it may take longer than that for crucial updates to become available.
For example, the report points to the HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L, which costs around $300 and has a one-year warranty. The device as originally sold suffered from a firmware bug which caused installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 to fail; HP eventually released a firmware update to fix the problem, but not before many customers had already owned the server for more than a year. Under the new rules they would have needed to buy support in order to upgrade their OS; as ZDNet notes, the HP Care Pack costs between $126 and $200, a fair portion of the original purchase price of the server.
Customers for life?
The move wasn’t welcomed by users. “Obsolescence is built into everything you can imagine today – your phone, your printer, your car. Everything,” one commenter posted on Reddit, who says he’s still using an HP printer from the 1990s. “I understand why they do it but I don’t respect it one bit.”
Or, as another Reddit user put it, mimicking McCoy’s corporate tone: “This week, Tedbradly announced that effective 8 February, 2014, he will no longer be buying HP products. This aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for him.”