Changes regarding HP ProLiant Server firmware access

Note: I work for a HP partner and a HP fanboy for about 15 years.

It’s only a small note in the HP support portal, but this small note has a large impact.

Starting February 2014, an active warranty or contract is required to access HP ProLiant Server firmware updates. View your existing contracts & warranties or get help linking contracts or warranties to your HP Support Center user profile. To obtain additional support coverage, please contact your local HP office, HP representative, or visit Contact HP. Click here for more information.

What does this mean? If you want a firmware update, you need a system that is under warrenty, has a active CarePack or belongs to a service agreement. Otherwise you will not be able to download new firmware releases. Why is this a problem? Who’s affected by this? In my opinion there are three affected groups:

  1. Customers
  2. Reseller of refurbished hardware
  3. Provider of 3rd party support contracts

Customers

Customers paid a lot for a high-quality server product and they want to use it for a some time. Some customers sort out servers after three or four years. They don’t buy a support extension. They just buy new servers. Other customers use a server as long as they can, regardless if it’s under support or not. But what happens to a server that is only three or four years old? Especially if a customer leases server, the hardware is returned after the end of the leasing contract. There are some companies that buy, refurbish and sells those kind of hardware. This leads us to group 2.

Reseller of refurbished hardware

These resellers can beat every price, because used hardware is much cheaper. Their offers are mainly addressed due to price-sensitive customers. This hits HP and their partners. Both want to sell new instead of used hardware. Often the reseller can offer hardware support. So if the hardware fails, the reseller can replace defective parts. There is no need to offer more support, because driver and firmware can be downloaded from the HP website.

Provider of 3rd party support contracts

Some customers want to use the hardware for more then three or four years. That’s not problem, because HP offers support contracts with a terms up to five years, or support extensions to extend the warranty. Some customers is this to expensive. They buy hardware support from 3rd party providers. Those providers can act much cheaper than HP. They only have to cover defective hardware. Firmware and drivers can still be downloaded from the HP website.

Conclusion

HP has no interest to annoy customers. But they want resellers and 3rd party support meet heavy. If a customer wants to buy used hardware, he can do that. But he has to purchase a support contract from HP. Or he has to live with the risk not to get new firmware. If the customer buy a HP ProLiant G6 or G7 this isn’t a problem. But what about c-Class blades and Virtual Connect modules? HP wants that customers buy new hardware or that they buy support for used hardware. This allows HP to reduce value of used hardware and still make money with used hardware.

My opinion

Other vendors will follow. IBM/ Lenovo is doing the same for some time. DELL offers free access to firmware, but for how long? Take a look into the software business? There’s a lot of software for which you have to buy support in order to get updates. Or think about Cisco and IOS. No support > no IOS updates. It’s a trend and it will spread. To be honest: I ignored a fourth affected group: The lab users. There are many people that run server hardware in their lab. Maybe it would be a good idea to open firmware access for this group of users.┬áIn keeping with: Do good and talk about it.

I’d like to link to Lindsay Hills blog. He wrote a great article about the restricted access to the server firmware.

Changes regarding HP ProLiant Server firmware access
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Patrick Terlisten
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Patrick Terlisten

vcloudnine.de is the personal blog of Patrick Terlisten. Patrick has over 15 years experience in IT, especially in the areas infrastructure, cloud, automation and industrialization. Patrick was selected as VMware vExpert (2014 - 2016), as well as PernixData PernixPro.

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2 thoughts on “Changes regarding HP ProLiant Server firmware access

  1. Bill Shields

    While I am a Cisco employee, this comment is my own.

    You are correct about IOS, but that is a switch and not a server. Updates for Cisco’s UCS servers are free. See @CiscoServerGeek blog’s post: Read all about it! HP charges – Cisco UCS updates remain FREE (http://ciscoservergeek.blogspot.com/2014/02/read-all-about-it-hp-charges-cisco-ucs.html) & @gallifreyan blog post (similar in theme to yours) : Planned obsolescence is not green (http://rsts11.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/planned-obsolescence-is-not-green-rsts11-ciscoucs-hp-proliant/).

    Reply
    1. Patrick Post author

      Good to know that Cisco provides also free firmware updates, but DELL do the same. No one will sort out a running server infrastructure because the vendor restricts firmware updates. But free firmware updates are now an additional differentiator on the server market.

      Reply

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