Network equipment has a much longer lifespan than many suppliers would have their customers believe. That is why after several years many customers feel compelled again to purchase new equipment or to upgrade, simply because the current product is no longer supported by the supplier: a substantial expense and in our view unnecessary extortion.
An average network switch has a lifespan of about ten years. In many cases big suppliers such as Cisco, Juniper, 3COM or HP only supply support on their products for about four years. Subsequently a new product line is presented with great fanfare and customers are told that the support on their current products is being phased out.
Thus the customer finds themselves with a choice of having to reinvest, or maintain his current investment with the risk of failure and associated problems without support from the supplier. For many customers the latter scenario is not an option, so once again they pull out their wallets, to the great satisfaction of the suppliers.
What customers do not know, and where suppliers like to leave them in the dark, is that after about four years the chance of malfunction is very remote. Moreover, it is likely that the product will continue to be trouble-free for the same number of years again. Thus the period covered by the investment will be twice as long.
This is interesting for customers, but less interesting for suppliers. Many customers do not realise that for new solid state products it is the first 90 days that are crucial. In that time-frame, the products that have not passed the “burn-in cycle” run a greater risk of hardware failure than they do during the rest of the product’s lifespan.
If customers and customer satisfaction were truly high priority for suppliers, they would offer a longer warranty and support on their products so that customers can upgrade and migrate when they are ready for it and not when the supplier thinks it’s time.