Hewlett-Packard will no longer provide firmware updates for ProLiant servers unless the systems' care is covered by a warranty, Care Pack Service or a support agreement, according to officials.
Previously, any customer with an x86-based ProLiant system—whether or not it was covered by a warranty—was able to get firmware updates for free. However, as of Feb. 19, that is changing, according to Mary McCoy, vice president of support technology services for HP servers.
"This decision reinforces our goal to provide access to the latest HP firmware, which is valuable intellectual property, for our customers who have chosen to maximize and protect their IT investments," McCoy wrote in a post on the company blog. "We know this is a change from how we've done business in the past; however, this aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners."
HP has posted a list of frequently-asked questions online.
Lindsay Hill, a network management consultant, is questioning whether HP's move is the right one for customers or if it fits into "industry best practices."
"Until recently, you would be faced with multiple rounds of reboots to do all the updates, and you couldn't really show any true business value from it," Hill argued in a post on his blog. "Fixing bugs that shouldn't have shipped doesn't count as business value."
He also noted the amount of effort that customers will have to make to not only ensure the warranties on each system are up-to-date, but also that HP's support lists are 100 percent accurate. In addition, Hill said that while IBM—which is in the process of selling its x86 server business to Lenovo—has followed the same path as HP, Cisco Systems requires a log-in and Dell allows free downloads.
HP's McCoy said that customers with systems under warranty will not be charged for firmware updates.
"Our customers under warranty or support coverage will not need to pay for firmware access, and we are in no way trying to force customers into purchasing extended coverage," she wrote. "That is, and always will be, a customer's choice."