HP Clarifies Stance on Firmware and Support for Server Customers

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John Pombrio

Paul, my best friend worked for HP computer division for 35 years. He replied to me about your first post of HP requiring service support for firmware updates that IBM had been doing that for years. He did not mention Dell. he said that HP was just following suit of a pretty much industry standard for big iron. I will check with him.

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Paul_Lilly

John, thanks for the heads up about IBM -- looks I had come across some bad info there. Having looked into it, IBM does in fact require a warranty or maintenance service agreement, which it announced last summer.

ZDNet's Ed Bott has a pretty good run down on the situation:

"The company’s archrival, Dell, offers unrestricted access to BIOS and software updates for its entire server, storage, and networking line. Several readers have pointed to Cisco as a counter-example. It's true that updates for Cisco routers and switches require a valid service contract. But downloads for Cisco servers (the Cisco Unified Computing System, or UCS, line) require registration but not a service contract.

Given the ultra-competitive landscape and the increased need to lean on server dollars while traditional PC sales are wavering, I'd say HP is playing with fire here.

EDIT: It's worth pointing out that Lenovo, which leapfrogged HP to become the world's largest PC player last year, recently acquired IBM's low-end server business. I'n not sure what Lenovo's policy is for out-of-warranty firmware updates.

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John Pombrio

Yeah, that is what Leo read too. Service contracts on these large systems are very common tho. With a company with thousands of users, 4 hour response support contracts are pretty much a no brainer. One major downtime event would cost the company more money than several years of contracts. Some of the larger companies pay to have a tech permanently on site.
What this DOES do is close the door on third party vendors who try to underbid on these lucrative contracts. There are a few that do well at this (and some that don't) and has been going on for 30 years. This just adds more incentive to keep the vendor involved.
Where third parties shine is supporting equipment that has gone out of support life by the vendor. Folks buy up used equipment and use the parts to keep the equipment running long after the company support goes away.