Does your organisation have an End of Life (EOL) policy for networking equipment?

One of my latest contracts had me evaluate the state of the actual network and evaluate the cost of replacing EoL equipment.

After reviewing the equipment list, scanning and SNMP polling the network to find any discrepancy. We came up with a fairly large amount of switches that was not only in the EOL cycle but also almost near the End of Support date.

This organisation did a big network refresh around 6 or 7 year ago, and now most of there access switches are EOS and there most of there AP will be EOS in 2 year. They had a couple of good old Pix that are still out there that are also in the EOL cycle.

So after presenting my preliminary report on the cost of replacing all the EOL switches (More that 400), presenting the investment to replace the AP (Around 500) and the PIX, I also list what equipment will be in the EOS in the next 5 year. This has been a shock, first the total IT budget for the network infrastructure could not handle the financial figure for replacing the equipment. The telecom department did not have the Men power to handle the load.

After some discussion, and one obvious statement from management, “Switches are not like milk, just because they are past they best before date, will not make them stop working”, we came up with a plan to replace all the EOS switches in the next 4 years, keep the emergency inventory for replacing any EOS switches that will fail in the field until replacement. The IT management will also ask for budget to replace the equipment that has been identify in the next 5 year EOS report.

Looking back at this experience, here are my thoughts about an EOL policy

  1. Watch for EOL announcement from the manufacturer and plan replacement over the next 5 year
  2. If any equipment that is on the EOL cycle need to be replaced, replace it with a non-EOL model. Even if it is under a service contract. You only pushing back the inevitable
  3. If IT budget for server and workstation replacement every 3 to 4 year, Why don’t they do the same for network infrastructure, this will keep an evergreen program that will keep the network equipment up to date and will avoid the “Need to replace obsolete network in a hurry project”
  4. Make sure that the I.T. management and senior management understand the impact of having EOL equipment when implementing new project (Ie POE, IP telephony, NAC).
  5. Always have provision for replacing equipment that break down, Yes it do happen and a lot of time no budget is allowed to do it

What are your thoughts and what is you organisation EOL policy for network equipment?


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