If you’ve done any IT work, you’ve likely seen the phrase or acronym end of service life (EOSL). But what exactly is end of service life? How does it affect your IT hardware? And what are the best practices for addressing EOSL in your own organization?

A Confusing Bundle of Acronyms

EOL, EOS, EOD, LDOS, and EOSL are all important acronyms in the IT world, and most of them have something to do with end of service life. Juggling all these terms, especially when they’re so close in actual meaning, can be challenging.

So let’s clear a few things up.

·       End of Life (EOL) and End of Sale (EOS). EOL and EOS are terms that can be used interchangeably, as they describe the same thing. This means that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is no longer going to produce or sell a specific piece of equipment. Usually, OEMs announce this and other dates months, or even years in advance, giving their customers ample time to make any purchases they wish to make before the deadline is reached. After this point, you’ll no longer be able to purchase the equipment or parts from the manufacturer (in most cases). You may be able to purchase these items on a secondary market, but it’s likely that the prices are going to increase, as supply falls and demand rises. After this threshold is reached, there’s usually a period of five years in which the OEM deploys a gradual phase out of the equipment. During this time, you’ll likely be able to continue getting support from the OEM directly, but this is only going to be a temporary arrangement.

·       End of Development (EOD). EOD means that the OEM is no longer going to develop or roll out updates for this device’s operating system. Software updates and firmware patches will stop being available as well. During this time, you’ll likely see a phase out of your contract and support renewals.

·       End of Service Life (EOSL) and Last Date of Support (LDOS). Now for the main star of the show: EOSL, which is often used interchangeably with LDOS. This is the final deadline and the final threshold in the lifecycle of a piece of data center equipment. When this threshold is reached, the OEM will no longer renew any support agreements and will no longer provide any operating system or software updates. The OEM is effectively cutting all ties with this device or piece of equipment, and you’ll be on your own finding a way to continue using it.

Why Is EOSL Important?

Why should you care about EOSL?

Throughout the service life of your devices and equipment, you’ll be heavily relying on your OEM for a variety of services. Even if you don’t have a maintenance or service contract with the OEM, you’ll still be relying on them for operating system updates, software patches, and more. It’s important to recognize when the EOSL date is coming, so you can properly prepare for this piece of equipment’s end of life.

What to Do About EOSL Equipment

What can you do about equipment that’s approaching the EOSL date?

There are several options:

·       Work with the OEM as long as possible. One option is to work with the OEM for as long as possible. After EOL, but before EOSL, you may have the option to purchase extended warranties, renew your service contracts, and so on. This is only a temporary measure, but it could help you maintain the status quo for longer.

·       Upgrade and decommission. If you’re no longer interested in maintaining your outdated equipment, you could choose to decommission it and replace it with something better. This upgrade could be highly beneficial for your business, but it could also be expensive, so weigh your options carefully before deciding.

·       Work with a third party. If the OEM is no longer supporting a piece of equipment, you can still get support through a third party. Third-party IT support providers often specialize in maintaining and managing outdated equipment.

·       Support your own equipment. Another option is to support your own equipment, using internal resources exclusively. You can procure parts and refurbished equipment on the secondary market, paying a premium to do so, and use internal staff members to service your equipment.

Technology is always moving forward, and manufacturers need to stop supporting older machines so they can focus their efforts on newer, more powerful machines. While this is likely to cause an inconvenience for your business, it’s also an excellent opportunity to review your available hardware and software, re-strategize, and find a stable path forward. As long as you remain cognizant of upcoming EOSL dates and focused on mitigating potential issues, you should be able to keep your equipment running long after the original manufacturer stops supporting it.