Dead or alive: lifecycle management and device planning are critical for enterprises

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IT infrastructure  is an enterprise's lifeblood. However, you would be surprised how many enterprises ignore planning for ‘last date of support’ (LDoS) on systems and devices – leaving networks open to security vulnerabilities, crashes, and serious meltdowns.

Despite the growth in enterprise cloud computing, on-prem networks, communications, and storage devices are still absolutely central to smooth business operations.  Yet these devices are often ignored until there is a malfunction. Each device will eventually reach the end of its lifecycle when software patches and routine failure analysis will no longer be available. Put simply, if it breaks, it will stay broken.

Increasingly complex technical and organizational structures are making it very difficult to have a 360-degree view of the entire IT asset estate.

One department owns the budget another buys the equipment.  There may also be dozens of different resellers and support contracts delivered through a dozen different providers. The bigger the enterprise, the bigger the headache.

Having a plan is paramount

Many vendors have started putting a ‘sell by’ or ‘best when used by’ tag on support. Cisco, for example, calls it Last Date of Support (LDoS).  From this date, Cisco stops all support for the product, thus making it obsolete as far as Cisco is concerned.

Tracking LDos is a monumental task, but is essential for governance. Unless enterprises take the time to track devices and have a transition plan in place before they reach obsolescence, they could face large bills and expensive system downtime.  Not understanding LDos puts enterprises in a very hazardous position.

There are some different approaches to managing the lifecycle of devices, which may be based on company size, financial priorities, or strategic plans for example. Existing support contracts and purchase records are a good place to start.   But the most important thing is that you have a plan in place.

The risk of unsupported devices

Unsupported devices are a security hazard. The software and firmware on obsolete products cannot be updated. This makes it easier for attackers to exploit new vulnerabilities found in older systems, leaving enterprises open to security hacks, data leakage, and breaches.

“Large enterprises are experiencing an acceleration and maliciousness of cyber threats to confidential business and personal data. The continued surge in the number of obsolete IT assets is jeopardizing both business and technology deliverables that are essential for an enterprise's success in digital transformation,” explained Bill Keyworth, Vice President of Research at IDC.

Reliability issues
Unsupported equipment with non-standard configurations that cannot be upgraded make infrastructures unstable, increase error rates and prolong outage periods. This makes it more difficult and time-intensive to track down and fix operational problems.

Mission critical hardware failings can bring down your whole business and leave departments ‘fire-fighting’.  Planning can avoid such devastating incidents.

Continuity planning & costly replacements
When a device that has passed its LDoS date fails, you might find it impossible to replace or find support for it. This may mean re-working your infrastructure to accommodate a new device, which can be time intensive and costly, with respect to both new equipment costs and decreases in user productivity while replacements are installed.

Plan, plan and plan again
The importance of planning for lifecycle management cannot be emphasized enough.  It makes it easier for IT departments to budget as well as plan for any new technology and suppliers they want to introduce and underscores governance policy.  With a proper plan in place, IT can make intelligent decisions about any equipment replacement that needs to be made ahead of obsolescence, ensuring a smooth transition.

Don’t get blindsided
It is understandable that enterprises want to get as much value from an asset as they can before replacing it, but the flipside is that retaining assets beyond their lifespan is risky.

Orange offers an LDoS assessment that will enable you to make more informed decisions on whether you are going to “sweat” the asset, replace it, or eliminate it - ensuring your infrastructure isn’t going to crash simply because a few crucial devices die.  It also has the potential for cost savings regarding refined supplier lists and maintenance contracts – improving the level of your IT overall.   

Lifecycle management can make or break a business, make sure you have a plan for Last Day of Support.

Want to learn how you can protect your IT estate? Read our step-by-step guide to Cisco LDoS audits and how we can help with end-of-life devices. 

Dave Frisch

Dave has been with Orange over 20 years and has held many different roles. He has spent most of his career at Orange in direct sales (closing new logos and also growing Orange's revenue in existing accounts) and managing sales relationships with our OEM partners (eg-Cisco). Recently he moved to Orange's Infrastructure Services Business Unit in NAM and is helping Orange create new Solutions to help our customers navigate the rapidly changing IT landscape. Dave is based in Chicago and enjoys bike riding, playing softball and wallyball.