Want a secure server? Get ready to open your wallet

A change to HP’s policies could have IT pros seeing red – and forking over some green – in order to keep systems secure and up to date. 

HP announced it will provide firmware updates on its servers “through the HP Support Center only to customers with a valid warranty, Care Pack Service or support agreement. ”

In other words, if your warranty is expired or you don’t have a support agreement with HP, free firmware updates that could keep your data safe from attacks or loss will be gone.

Little guys hurt most

As ZDNet’s Ed Bott reports, this new policy is most likely to affect small businesses and those using low-end servers. It’s also expected to hurt the resale value of HP equipment.

But HP isn’t the only company pushing for IT to buy extended support. IBM also requires a warranty or support for some of its products. Dell and Cisco on the other hand are less stringent with the support requirements.

IT’s next move

You have enough on your plate without worrying about warranties and support contracts. But it’s looking like the age of free support is if not coming to an end, at least getting more complicated.

When making purchasing decisions for servers or other equipment consider:

  • Warranty terms. How long can you expect service and support without springing for extra protection? The length of support (and whether it’s free or not) might wind up making a less-expensive server more costly in the long run.
  • Outside options. It’s possible that a third-party could provide support more cheaply than the device manufacturer. But just make sure that there aren’t any pass-along costs if the manufacturer changes its own policies.
  • Resale. If you just toss your equipment when you’re done with it or run it into the ground, the warranty may not matter. But if you rely on selling used equipment to bring in some extra cash, this could be the motivation you need to avoid certain brands.

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