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HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers 385

New submitter josh itnc writes "In a move that is sure to put a wedge between HP and their customers, today, HP has issued an email informing all existing Enterprise Server customers that they would no longer be able to access or download service packs, firmware patches and bug-fixes for their server hardware without a valid support agreement in place. They said, 'HP has made significant investments in its intellectual capital to provide the best value and experience for our customers. We continue to offer a differentiated customer experience with our comprehensive support portfolio. ... Only HP customers and authorized channel partners may download and use support materials. In line with this commitment, starting in February 2014, Hewlett-Packard Company will change the way firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) on HP ProLiant server products are accessed. Select server firmware and SPP on these products will only be accessed through the HP Support Center to customers with an active support agreement, HP CarePack, or warranty linked to their HP Support Center User ID and for the specific products being updated.' If a manufacturer ships hardware with exploitable defects and takes more than three years to identify them, should the consumer have to pay for the vendor to fix the these defects?"
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HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

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  • Re:oh well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by omglolbah ( 731566 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:31AM (#46159891)

    Yeah.... this is going to bite them in the ass... hard.

    We recently had an issue with HP servers showing temperatures of 255C on motherboard sensors...
    They said this was a firmware issue and told us to flash the bios to fix this. We did... the sensor now shows -127C. Big help.

    It actually required a motherboard replacement and they claimed this was -not- a warranty issue because the server was too old. In the meantime we've had 4 more servers have this issue, which makes them unusable in our environment (oil rig HMI).

    Would they now not give us the fix without us feeding them a bit of cash? Fuck them.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:41AM (#46159957) Journal

    ... but in this case I won't fault anyone if they have to download the essential patches from pirate sites.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:43AM (#46159975)

    Its happened twice this year that I've tried to find drivers on the HP website for notebooks aged 3-5 years, and found they're not on the HP website. After phoning HP I'm told that warranty isn't valid and for this kind of support I must pay an hourly fee. Only after threats of a lawsuit and an hour of my time occupied, the rep has been able to e-mail the drivers to me, instead of actually listing them on their website for the other owners of the same models.

  • by angrygretchen ( 838748 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @04:10AM (#46160085)
    We are a small shop and we are running 3 VMs on a single HP Proliant G7 Server. It has enough memory and resources that it could probably run an additional 7 VMs if we wanted to. HP is having to face the reality that the people are buying less hardware because realistically the ratio of VMs to servers is high as 10:1. HP is trying to gouge customers on the warranty because they can't make it up in server sales. Our Proliant DL380 G7 hit the 3 year mark a few months ago and is now out of warranty. The additional cost of the most basic warranty (4 hours/day phone, no onsite) for a single Proliant server is approximately $3000 for three years. That is easily half the cost of the server. And that's the cheapest warranty option. Don't even ask about the 24/7 onsite warranty. This change effectively kills the secondary market for HP hardware. Denying access to firmware means that it will be next to impossible to install or update your OS. I've had to run the HP SPP firmware upate several times to address issues that would otherwise have rendered our Proliant server useless. In fact I have an unresolved issue with our server where it refuses to reboot to the OS, unless I boot from the HP SPP tool first. If I need a critical firmware update in the future, the only option may be the Piratebay. Ugh If HP doesn't reverse this decision, our next server will most likely be a Dell. Unless Dell decides to follow HP into the dark side as well.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @04:16AM (#46160103) Journal

    Now it's just a bunch of MBAs trying to massage their stock price.

    You got that right.

      - Get hired for a big salary and a LOT of stock options.
      - Make the company appear more profitable by cutting off investments in the future to reduce costs now.
      - Declare victory and what a great guy you are.
      - Cash in the stock options and move on to a bigger company where you can repeat the process for even more money and reputation points. PROFIT!
      - Your successor inherits the house of cards and takes the blame when it collapses a few years later.

    The Harvard Business School has a reputation for graduates who use this algorithm.

    Interestingly, boards of directors keep falling for this. (You'd think they'd look at what happens to companies candidates had "turned around" in the several years AFTER they left when evaluating CEO, COO, and CFO candidates. But apparently they usually don't.)

    = = = =

    Similarly, if a high company official starts enthusing about the book "Crossing the Chasm" and you're an early hire, cash any vested stock options and get out, before you and the other early hires are laid off. (Interestingly, they usually fire them too soon, when they're still key to the company's success, and the company usually falls INTO the chasm rather than crossing it.)

  • by SJ ( 13711 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @04:21AM (#46160123)

    You're mistaking this company for the original HP. "HP" nowadays is actually Compaq. The old HP that everyone knew and loved is now (at least used to be) Aligent. []
    They are now Aligent and Keysight.

    So anywhere you read something about "HP" doing something stupid... Think "Compaq" instead, and it all makes sense.

  • In which countries? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ukoda ( 537183 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @05:33AM (#46160375) Homepage
    I suspect they will only try this in some countries. They would be in breach of consumer laws in countries like New Zealand to charge to fix defects.

    Regardless, other have said, it will weight in favour of other suppliers for new purchases.
  • by Demonantis ( 1340557 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @06:52AM (#46160727)
    Yes Cisco does. I have seen it a couple times with other enterprise products. It is evil. The product basically becomes a paperweight after the planned life cycle.
  • Why is that? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SplatMan_DK ( 1035528 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:19AM (#46161401) Homepage Journal

    I use old HP servers for fun, development, and test sandbox work. I get most of them for free (salvaged from customers who replace them) and upgrade them with parts from eBay. So having to pay for firmware updates is certainly something that will annoy me on a personal level.

    Having said that however, I don't understand why you would make such an obviously emotional decision. If you really want to ditch HP (and I am not a stockholder so I am not protecting them) you should do an actual TCO calculation to see if the new support arrangement actually has any real consequence for you. If you already buy servers "by the ton" then odds are you already have a support agreement which will provide you with full access to the entire HP repository of updates.

    I don't find it problematic that HP want's to charge prices for firmwares. In fact, I wished more companies did so. In reality you already paid for "lifetime updates" when you purchased, say, a G7 server. So let me just mention the possible benefits of a functional post-warranty market for updates:

    1.) Over time, paid firmware update will decrease the price of the new server and/or its initial support contract. Rather than paying for "lifetime updates" the initial owner gets to pay only for his/her actual usage of updates.

    2.) A functional post-warranty firmware market (with a culture where paying for this service was widely accepted) would mean more vendors would support their hardware for longer. Simply because customers would be willing to pay for updates. I have often wished it was possible to update the firmware for stuff, like network printers, small routers, older laptops, graphics cards, as well as servers. Have you never been in a situation where you wished you could throw 20 bucks at Asus to get a recent formware for ?

    3.) Most hardware today is changed because of lack of support - not because of actual failure (or even the prospect of failure). Which is likely why HP seeks to make an actual business out of their post-warranty support. Paid updates could, if prices are reasonable, prolong the lifespan of gear - reducing e-waste and spent man-hours. There is no reason a server witrh the build-quality of a HP G7 or a BL c7000 should last only 3 years. It will easily last 8 if maintained properly, and if support options are available and fair.

    Hell, I just fired up an old HP c3000 with 6 servers, 40 Xeon cores and 92 gigs of RAM. It uses a bit more power than new servers - sure - but the hardware was acquired for free, using it means delaying e-waste, and it gets the job done with no problems at all. But I am sure it would all have been a nightmare if updates were not available. New ILO2 firmwares, updated RAID controller firmwares, new version of LightsOut ... I would happily have paid a bit of money for that.

    You should stop making decisions when you're emotional about something.

    Calculate your TCO, including support and quality. Then decide if you should ditch HP or not.

    If HP (and others) jkeep the price for these updates fair, I see no problem with this. In fact I welcome it, hoping it will gain attention from smaller vendors in the consumer space as well.

    - Jesper

  • by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:38PM (#46163193)

    "Who pays the cost to fix old, out-of-date drivers and firmware? Is HP supposed to do it out of the goodness of their heart?"

    Bullshit. A firmware update generally addresses some sort of bug or deficiency. By not patching it freely, HP is admitting that they sold you a flawed product. So I should be able to then demand my money back. It is their RESPONSIBILITY to fix it!!

    As others have said, the worst company with this is cisco. The second worst is sonicwall. Fuck sonicwall and their paid updates!! I had to throw out a perfectly good VPN appliance whoes compact flash card had died because they would not let me download a firmware for the unit. Not because I didnt have a service contract with them, but because I didnt have a service contract for that one particular VPN appliance. I had another contract with another appliance which we purchased later.

    If the fix is already made, then keeping it from former customers unless they pay up is spiteful ransom. A firmware update is addressing flaws in the vendors product. The vendor would do well to get them fixed, or you get a very bad reputation such as sonicwall has with me now.

    If I had to maintain support contracts with every vendor i've ever done business with on the off chance that one day I will need an update, I would not be able to ever purchase anything new. Your old assets would become drags. This is similar to why I always try and find open source software alternatives for everything I possibly can. Specifically because in software world, it is very common to charge for every update. Result, I don't buy much paid for software when I have open source alternatives. With hardware, its a lot harder to change products when some bug is encountered.

    All this is is a giant ad for dell servers, who I have never had a problem with getting drivers or updates for. If dell can do it, then sure as shit HP can. I was actually looking at HP servers for a friend, but I guess I will be recommending dell now. HP fails it. Short term profits trump everything and I am so sick of it.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein