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HP Changing Policy on Free ProLiant Server Firmware Updates

HP plans to do away with providing some free firmware updates and service packs to its ProLiant Server customers, starting on Feb. 19.

The new restrictions on free support apply only to HP ProLiant customers with expired warranties, or those who lack a current HP Care Pack Service or other HP support agreements, according to Mary McCoy, HP's vice president for servers and support, who announced the decision this week in a company blog post. She clarified in a subsequent post that HP would just charge for firmware and service packs for ProLiant "system ROM and complex programming logic devices." The new policy didn't apply to "iLO, I/O, or controller firmware," she explained.

McCoy said that HP's new policy "aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners."

Veteran technology writer Ed Bott noted that HP's decision mostly will affect buyers of low-end ProLiant servers. Those price-sensitive customers could face paying for HP support at a rate that's almost half the cost of a ProLiant server, he noted. Software warranties for low-end ProLiant servers can be as little as 90 days.

Bott disputed that HP was following industry best practices, noting that Dell doesn't charge for firmware updates for its servers. However, IBM had already announced last summer it would charge for updates for machines not under warranty or covered by IBM service contracts.

Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn described HP's decision as "boneheaded." He laid out the issue for IT pros.

"I'm sure that people who bought the hardware with 3 years support expect, you know, support for 3 years," Finn wrote in a blog post. "With new Linux variants out every few months, vSphere updated annually, and Windows versions appearing every 12-18 months, we kind of need those firmware updates for a stable platform. If HP doesn't want to offer me stability, then why the hell would I consider using their out-of-date hardware?"

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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