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back to article HP: A firmware update is just for Christmas, not for EVA

Meg Whitman's HP has sent a Christmas missive to EVA customers who don't have maintenance deals with the firm explaining that their free firmware updates are now thing of the past. The EVA is HP's legacy dual-controller storage array, which is gradually being replaced by the StoreServ (3PAR) line of arrays. There are thousands …

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Anonymous Coward

Depends what the firmware updates are addressing. Stability and reliability should always be free.

Speed and features can be something worth paying for, so long as the performance isn't really bad to start with.

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Unhappy

If it goes well for them I assume all their over hardware lines will follow

Such as laserjets (Many of which don't get replaced often because I am to tight to spend budget on it)

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Alien

Quick, someone buy Meg a Violin

because the HP city is burning rapidly.

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Pint

What happened to "Ink-jet ink maker HP..."?

I thought it was the rule...

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Anonymous Coward

Contract

If you bought an EVA and free firmware was part of the deal, can they unilaterally change it? Speaking in the EU here BTW, not the no-rights stateside.

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Re: Contract

No they can't. You have a contract which lists the items you paid consodweration for, and that will list firmware updates.

However you would be surprised how few IT shops actually reflect all the contributing factors in the lftetime cost of ownership in their contracts.

I am sure HP will happily provide already-contracted firmware updates where it is required to, and happily collect an annual fee from the other 99%.

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HP, the nickel-and-diming store of technology

Now that you've got them locked, set grip to strangle.

It's all about maximizing revenue, baby.

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dead platform to stay dead

Seriously, if you are still on EVA then I feel sorry for you.

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eva customers got away with a lot for free

I've never talked with any EVA users myself but one of the VARs I used to use told me stories on how to lower costs a lot of customers would keep support on the controllers but not maintain support on the disk drives, and just keep some spares and/or buy on demand/from ebay etc. The HP support system wasn't very sophisticated(not sure if it was ever fixed) and customers would often get HP offering to replace drives on systems that did not have drive support because for some reason they could not distinguish between systems with controller support only and those that had full support. Another strategy would be high level of support on controllers and low level(perhaps warranty only) on drives.

3PAR sort of fixes that problem as their support policy is really strict, no splitting of support types, and you either have the system fully supported, or not at all. I bet this VAR he would not be able to get a EVA-style support on a 3PAR system, he tried for something like a month to no avail. He still owes me...

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Tough call

On one hand, you can't just produce firmware upgrades for free, but on the other, a mature product like the EVA probably has a very small team dedicated to maintenance that doesn't need huge cash infusions to keep going.

This trend is just the continuation of other proprietary hardware vendors' policies. Sun and later Oracle stopped giving away free firmware updates for their kit. Cisco has always required you to have _a_ service contract for _some_ device to get access to firmware, and lately they've been cleaning up their access policies to at least warn you that you're not specifically entitled to firmware you're looking at. IBM has started doing this with their storage hardware too -- you now need a serial number to download anything, and I imagine a service contract check is next.

I think security updates should be provided to anyone, to the extent that the company decides to fix bugs in older hardware. Enhancements are another story...I work with a lot of LSI and IBM storage gear with very extensible controllers, and they keep rolling out features in firmware without changing the physical box. That said, I've seen software companies patch products (or pieces of products) that are positively ancient if they have a customer willing to pay the money. It's tough - those of us who buy lots of stuff off eBay and bankruptcy sales like the ability to at least update it to the point it was at before support got dropped. But it's not free.

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Meh

Re: Tough call

I posted on the other thread about whether this is legal (for bugs etc).

I too have noticed what you said about IBM/HP/Quantum asking for serial numbers etc...

I also have experience with the "ancient hardware", and getting patches for it is nice. But also the main reason this hardware has any value at all, beyond scrap replacement.

I also strongly suspect having some old hardware increases substantially, the chance to buy some new hardware from $VENDOR.

I couldn't give a stuff for the company making money once the hardware is out of warranty as this gives a massive incentive for $CORP to shaft its users by making "new features" part of the ever receding support contract.

Since you have already paid for the hardware, if there were an open market for the sale of new "features" perhaps this would be ok. But vendors sell you proprietary hardware, and have made it their business to provide the firmware as part of the product. In the tape arena (LTO) I recently discovered that all the equipment is re-badged, and so this re-enforces my cynicism.

In anycase, charging for bug fixes seems very short sighted, and I am not sure it is legal?

P.

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I'm pretty sure most vendors (I work for HP, worked for IBM) will only provide free firmware updates for storage arrays as long as you have a support agreement in place. I didn't realise that HP ever provided firmware for unsupported arrays anyway. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect a valid support contract to be in place to receive enhancements to existing code.

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Anonymous Coward

Stopped buying HP several years ago.

Bug fixes and security updates should always be free and required up to the point that the hardware is end-of-life and all manufacturers should be consistent about EOL policies with plenty of warning when it is EOL. I refuse to buy HP anymore after purchasing a tx2120us laptop that had overheating and bios issues that HP refused to address and fix. I bought it with Vista just before the Windows 7 release and HP never upgraded the bios to allow newer drivers to be loaded for the graphics or for Win 7 support even though all this happened during the warranty period. The switch to non-lead solders exacerbated the overheating problem. A $1250 laptop should have included more updates. I used to love HP products, not any more. It seems Meg has now joined HP's other recent leaders to destroy this once wonderful company.

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Anonymous Coward

dr. Mrs Whitman - let's say what we have to say to you - right in your face!

Dear Mrs. Whitman,

No firmware fixes = no hardware sales anymore.

Even if you change you're policy right now - the damage is done. The trust has been broken by HP's upper management. You screwed us with ebay's high prices - now you're doing the same with HP.

After EVA it'll be proliant i've read - well, i like to be respected - and you're not going to do this on me.

I do know other company's that treat me better - we'll shop over there.

No way i'm gonna pay for something HP should have made functional in the first place.

I assume the same will apply to printers too - well i do have an alternative - and HP will be asap be kicked out of our offices - don't be woried - be very afraid!

You tried to change this in the hope we it-people don't read it - and notice it when it's too late - we do work a lot - even at Xmas. It's already forwarded to my superiors - it's a bomb waiting to explode at 2 januari!

We won't forget this!

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What???

Anyone using storage array or server in production without valid support contract is complete idiot that should be fired asap. What are you people talking about. The only thing I'm a bit surprised is that by now they offered free upgrades to people without support, I don't know any other HW supplier who would be so nice. But also no one expects that, as it's obvious for everyone that if you're using HW in prod, you pay for HW support too. Period

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What???

Totally agree, every serous storage vendor requires support for these kinds of updates, typically they're locked away behind a support portal for this very reason. This isn't a printer, laptop or desktop update, running a shared storage system with many dependent services without a proper support contract is irresponsible at best.

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Anonymous Coward

We _have_ a support contract with HP and we've been categorically told there will be no further firmware updates to our 16 or so EVA arrays (8100 and 8400) models that will address a known bug that can cause loss of access when there are two or more failed drives. (A failed drive that is being replaced causes timeouts on the loop, the array fails to handle it properly and resets all the drives on the bus, servers can't access their LUNs, databases go down, chaos, red faces, etc). This is despite their own documentation (which we had to send them a copy of) stating that the firmware is under support until December 2014. They can't offer any solution to the problem apart from replacing disks whenever they fail (doh) and keeping the firmware on the drives up to date and consistent, which we do anyway.

Yes, I know EVA is old and shit and we are trying to migrate off it as soon as we can but I would still have expected a known issue that stops the disk array handling something as basic as drive replacements properly to be addressed. It has been suggested that we might want to move to their new and shiny disk array products. I don't make the purchasing decisions but this experience (and the general support experience with HP) is not one that I would want to risk having again.

Anonymous because I don't want to embarrass my employer by people being able to track back through my name that they were not only gullible enough to buy one of the crappiest disk arrays on the market back when they started buying them 9 years ago but keep buying them up until 2 years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

This is an old old problem that affected all active / passive FC backends, FC drives stall the backend loop and LIP's are required to reset the drives, if all of this doesn't occur within a very short time frame then timeouts at the host can occur.

You could increase the timeouts at the host HBA stack to negate the issue, but to fix this problem you would need a bit more than a firmware update. It's one of the reasons SAS backends are now common, since they get away from the loop and FC device arbitration.

That aside what you are experiencing is effectively multiple disk failures (albeit transient), which this class of array wasn't really designed to tolerate. More advanced designs such as 3PAR get around these kinds of failures with active / active symmetric access, enclosure level availability, logging and pinned data space etc hence why HP are so keen to push the 3PAR architecture going forward.

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