We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And now at HP, their customers are experiencing first-hand that there is no such thing as a free firmware update – anymore, at least. Affecting product lines such as HP EVA storage, firmware updates will now only be accessible through the HP Support Center (HPSC) with an active maintenance contract written by HP.
This means that any HP customers without an active, HP-written contractual support agreement, HP Care Pack service, or warranty will no longer be able to access firmware updates. Up until December 2013, HP customers without an HP-written maintenance contracts still had download access to update their firmware without paying any fees.
Since similar changes have been made by other technology manufacturers including Cisco, IBM, and Oracle, HP states that this change “Is in line with our commitment to support entitled customers, whether directly or through authorized partners, and follows industry practices of protecting HP’s firmware and software updates.”
This forces customers to get maintenance directly from HP or through one of their partners, impacting customers who use 3rd party maintenance providers or who self-maintain their legacy equipment. These customers will be forced to make a decision because it affects them in two keys ways. First, it places them in a bit of a financial crunch since the cost of an HP maintenance contract can be hefty. Second, it causes technological issues since outdated firmware often has compatibility issues with new technologies.
By causing these pains for the customer, it seems that HP is trying to push their customers into a full-blown support contract for every product and, of course, to work with companies that benefit HP the most. While HP is claiming that “these changes will provide our customers with a consistent experience”, the benefit to the customer is truly yet to be determined since what used to be a free service is now an added expense to their already limited budgets.