POINT OF VIEW
This POV helps organisations understand the reasons to keep software supported and up to date.
Technology is ever evolving. Whilst this means new features and capabilities, it also means software versions have a short life cycle.
Versions and updates are becoming available more often, increasing the rate of software becoming End of Life (EOL), End of Support (EOS) and ultimately increases the risk of being completely unsupported.
But what does this actually mean and what’s the impact?
End of life refers to the point where a vendor stops issuing updates or giving continued support, as vendors turn their focus to newer products or versions. This is announced in advance to allow customers to effectively plan for extended support or upgrades. End of life products may continue to be supported by the original vendor under support subscription contracts.
End of support refers to a situation where vendors cease support and security patches for a specific piece of software. EOS software will generally have already reached EOL, making this the last time the original vendor will provide skills and support for the product. However, whilst the vendor revokes support, third parties may be available with the relevant skills to keep your software going.
To not have software EOL or EOS does not make sense to vendors as the cost of maintaining skills and development outweighs the benefit.
Unsupported software usually occurs when companies no longer pay for any extended support for EOL or EOS applications. If something then goes wrong with the software, the cost to remedy the issues will be large due to the risks and compromises involved.
You can think of support as a form of warranty. If something becomes unsupported, there is no longer a valid warranty. In this example then, extended support is extended warranty, and can be provided either by the original or third-party vendors.
Keeping your data supported is desirable to maintain fixes and receive technical support. Software does not last forever. The longer it goes without maintenance, the more likely the risks to businesses with compromises to cyber security among other things.
There are two main options for managing EOL, EOS or unsupported software; purchase extended support or upgrade to a new, supported, version.
Reasons to keep software up to date
Unsupported software is vulnerable to security, incompatibility, and compliance issues. Patches fix known flaws that can compromise systems and are issued by the software vendor as they maintain their products. Previous patches made to the now EOL or EOS version will not support any new vulnerabilities that have become prevalent. And, as the application is no longer ‘under warranty,’ the vendor no longer creates patches to address these vulnerabilities as they focus on maintaining their new versions and products.
 Cyber Security
Due to the speed at which software is upgrading, there is an increased risk of vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Viruses, malware, and other attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Research shows that there are 10,000 new malware threats every hour. If your software is not kept up to date or supported by patches, you are at an increased risk of these cyber vulnerabilities.
If systems are left unmanaged, data is left susceptible to breaches, especially if the software includes the storage, use or application of data. This is because the software will not have the patches to support the vulnerability, meaning there is high potential for data leaks and other compromises through hackers and misuse.
Many industry regulations dictate that software needs to be supported and up to date to ensure there are no security lapses. Companies may face lawsuits if audits find that regulations are not followed.
Companies handling sensitive customer or employee data such as payment card information, are subject to compliance risks with outdated software. If left untouched, companies face fines if regulations are not adhered to.
 Software Incompatibility
When software is created, it is based on the systems and hardware of the time. If older versions are left unmanaged it can become problematic as integrating with new applications or running on new devices will become expensive or impossible.
Companies will be required to maintain old hardware to run their software that whilst independently runs ok, inhibits the wider IT strategy due to the incompatibility with other, newer, systems and devices.
 System Downtime and Decreased Productivity
EOL and EOS software is likely to slow systems and in serious situations lead to system failure, which comes with a large cost of recovery or replacement. Access to data, files, and other resources can become interrupted if this occurs.
Due to the slowed systems, even the easiest of tasks will take longer to execute. System maintenance, patching, and updates will also take longer to accomplish, leading to extended downtime, affecting organisational efficiency if this includes core systems. On top of this, EOL and EOS software means you miss out on new features or faster programs available from vendor support. Improved security, integrations, access, etc. could be just round the corner, but missed due to the use of an older software version or product.
 Stability Vulnerability
Stability in this context refers to the measurement of system performance, accessibility, and usability. If left untouched, errors in performance arise, such as crashes or random reboots.
Vendors can ensure quality of performance with testing. When new updates and upgrades are released, vendors ensure functionality, patches and features are kept up to date to keep the software stable.
The largest reason organisations want to keep their software up to date and supported comes down to the repercussive costs.
Whether this be due to loss of data through security breaches caused by a lack of new security functionality and patches, or the lack of productivity from system downtime, costs will quickly stack up. And this is before adding in the regulatory fines.
Any savings from NOT updating or supporting EOL and EOS software will soon be depleted from having to fix the inevitable issues.
Any of these risks are mitigated when you have the continued technical support from updated software versions.
Maintaining unsupported and out of date software can also lead to reputational cost if systems are down for multiple weeks. Staff and customers will quickly tire of slow access and having their data at risk. Data loss and just being susceptible to breaches can impact business credibility, again, costing organisations greatly. By implementing new software, these risks are minimised.
Utilising extended support is important. This is typically for support provided after software is EOL and EOS, with contract lengths up to five years. Extended support provides support outside of the original software contract or warranty. It is important to monitor when software will become EOL or EOS so you can coordinate your overall IT strategy and plan.
Responsiv offer extended support for IBM software (including legacy systems), as well as the skills to upgrade and migrate companies to the most recent or supported versions if this is still part of their strategy.
Responsiv Assist is available using a credit and ticket system to provide varying levels of support from fixes to training.
Find out how Responsiv helped this FTSE 100 firm to upgrade their unsupported IBM software, including over 40 complex API migrations, below:
Get in touch today and find out how Responsiv can help you support your software estate!
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