What does EOL mean for my business?

One of our Account Managers, Jess Vasepuru gives insight into what EOL means in terms of tech, and why all organisations should take it seriously when it comes to business operations.  

You might hear the term EOL often mentioned by suppliers and your IT provider and wonder why we take it so seriously. If you didn’t already know, EOL means End of Life and it’s a term we use in the industry for when hardware and software is so old it’s no longer supported by its manufacturer.  

Using the most significant part of your network infrastructure as examples, let’s explore the negative impact it can have on your critical data and processes… 

Why is it important that firewalls remain within support?  

A firewall is the security appliance that sits on the edge of your network to control traffic, and it is a vital element of your cyber safety. Once its down, you can expect your network to go down including your internet access, emails, and any software that requires internet connectivity, as well as: 

  • No more patch management. Patch management refers to fixes that patch ‘holes’ in security or a software, where a potential breach has been identified. They should be released very regularly and outside of business hours to keep your business secure. Patch management is critical to keeping systems updated, reducing attack surfaces, and ensuring employee productivity.  
  • No more bug fixes. Bugs are errors in a programme that make the application ‘glitch’. Without bug fixes, users will experience a varied user problems that can majorly impact your business’ productivity and data capture with time.  
  • No hardware warranty. How much downtime can you afford if something happened to a critical piece of network infrastructure? If your device is within warranty, the manufacturer must send out a replacement or provide an onsite fix. If the appliance is not under warranty, you must purchase a new device and can be subject to far longer delays.   
  • No technical support. If the business started to experience user issues and reported them to your IT provider, there is a very limited number of fixes we can apply before it requires manufacturer intervention. This is because where security is becoming more critical and complex, we require that additional knowledge and assistance that we receive through their experts. Without support, those manufacturers will not provide us with any assistance at all.  

Why is it important that servers remain within support?  

Your server is likely the most crucial part of your network. For most businesses, it controls the domain allowing authorised users/devices access; it hosts all your business data, large applications, website and so on. With very similar security concerns as a firewall appliance, there are some additional issues businesses need to be aware of if they decide to not replace their server.  

  • Security vulnerabilities. No more security fixes being issued by Microsoft means that Windows Server 2008 and soon to be Windows Server 2012 are now a minefield of security hazards. A firewall and anti-virus are not sufficient protection against un-patchable vulnerabilities, which hackers will be quick to exploit. 
  • Software incompatibility. New applications are optimised for the most recent Operating Systems. That means when using EOL Operating Systems, you can’t upgrade to the latest and most efficient versions, so you’ll have to hold onto legacy applications as new versions will not be compatible. 
  • Compliance issues. Regulated industries like healthcare and e-commerce deal with lots of sensitive customer data. Entrusting your critical information to a decade-old OS or an unsecure application is a recipe for disaster. For example, non-compliance with EU regulations and industry standards such as GDPR, PCI-DSS and similar can lead to potentially damaging complications and/or financial penalties. 
  • High operating costs. The costs of maintaining and bug-fixing any post-EOL software can be steep. The expense of paying Microsoft to patch an EOL operating system can greatly exceed the price of simply replacing Windows Server 2008 or 2012. What about the high cost of a mission-critical app failing? These are all things to consider. 
  • Poor performance and reliability. Chances are, if you’re still running legacy apps or old versions of Windows, then you’ve got some aging servers and workstations hanging around the office too, adding to your risk because these likely out-of-warranty devices are prone to breaking down. Consider that downtime alone could be more costly than an overdue upgrade. 

Simply put, there’s no secure way to run EOL software. The potential risks typically overshadow the rewards, even if you’re tight on budget. Security, compatibility, and compliance are all big challenges with EOL hardware and software. 

If you’re interested in having a conversation with us about replacing old devices, get in touch with us at (0)113 403 2 800 and we’d be happy to support you.