What Does EOL Mean?

EOL stands for End-of-Life in the IT industry. Because the IT landscape is constantly changing, including newer technologies and new threats, computer software and hardware must constantly change. Eventually there comes a time when the developers need to move on from their older products to further develop new products, and thus an End-of-Life is announced.

Some EOLs are set by a very predictable policy, such as that of Microsoft Corp. Others, generally smaller software companies that don’t produce new products on a regular schedule, are not as black & white.

What happens when my software is EOL?

Well, at first, nothing.

The software and hardware will continue to work, you’ll continue to be able to do things without issue. Everything is fine.

But as time progresses forward, your software will fall behind. It will no longer receive support from the manufacturer, it will no longer be updated for the latest features, and it will no longer receive updates for discovered security issues.

At first, the impact is very minimal. But as the rest of the world progresses, things will stop working. Support personnel’s knowledge of the software will diminish, thus making it more costly for repairs. Then hackers will find ways to break in to your computer and software, and nobody is working to fix these issues. Eventually your machine will either stop working to an irreparable point, if you are lucky, or get hacked and lose all your data.

Why do EOLs exist?

Lets use a car or truck as an example to illustrate this need.

You go to the dealership and start a conversation on what you need in your car, and the dealer makes a recommendation, as well as sells you some other features you don’t need but may like (or not). You purchase your new car with everything cars have to offer today, and you are happy… hopefully. This is like buying a new computer and new software to run your business.

Then, the next model year comes out, your car is still good and has most everything the new ones have, but a few features are now a tad-bit dated, and that is OK.

Then, you get a new cell phone, and you can listen to your music in the car without plugging anything in, if the car supports it. Yours does not. So you go back to the dealer, or other car shop, buy a new radio and have it installed. You now can use this feature. This is like a software feature update. Pretty cool, huh?

Now there is a safety recall on your car. You go to the dealer and they fix the problem, making your slightly older car even safer than it was before. Enter the priority/mandatory security update.

“I fight for the user!”

Tron

Time to change the oil. You call the mechanic and he performs all the necessary fluid changes, rotates the tires, replaces the brake pads and windshield wipers, etc. This is the same as a professional clean up on your computer.

You can do all this until one day the car doesn’t start. And the age of the car now means the latest greatest technologies and safety features won’t work on your car. And the mechanic starts to shrug his shoulders when you bring it in with a new noise. And the paint is peeling off the hood. The mechanic and car manufacturer say, “its time for a new one.” This car is now EOL, or its met its useful end.

“End of Line.”

Master Control Program… or C.L.U. depending on your age.

Computer hardware and software is the same. It can become dated to the point where it can’t use the latest technology, it is no longer secure and isn’t worth continuing service on. It is time to buy a new one.

How do I upgrade EOL software?

This part is usually pretty easy. Buy a new one. 🙂

Some software this is harder to upgrade, but beginning the process to upgrade early will prevent issues in the future. Most software recently made EOL can direct upgrade to the latest version without much issue. But if your software has been EOL for a while, there may not be a direct upgrade path anymore, and the costs of the upgrade will increase exponentially as time marches on.