End of life (EOL) software is a very real problem. Whether your business is using ecommerce and customer relationship management systems across multiple platforms or relying on basic scheduling and accounting software, you will at some point reach a technological expiry date.
When a system reaches end of life, the creator/owner of the software/technology no longer delivers support services for the product. That can include technical support, hardware or software upgrades, bug fixes, security patches, or feature development. In short, the system gets abandoned by its owner.
Software becoming obsolete can cause all sorts of problems. Here are five risks to your business in running EOL software:
End of life technology receives no security updates. No bug fixes. No patches. No monitoring. Your technology is dead in the eyes of the creator. That means your security is completely compromised, not only for the platform that is EOL, but also potentially for any others that connect to it.
At minimum, your system can be accessed and your content or records edited, stolen, or deleted. If you have any user data, financial data, or sensitive information, you could have a major problem. The monetary and reputational cost could kill your business.
A survey of 2,600 CIOs across the U.S. found that the number one concern was keeping systems and information secure. If you take no action on EOL systems, you are essentially condemning yourself to failure in that regard.
Just because the software maker is no longer supporting the software doesn't mean you have no options for supporting it going forward. There are agencies that specialize in supporting older technology. But that support doesn’t come cheap, and integrations into other systems require even more time-consuming and expensive workarounds.
As a general rule, maintaining EOL software is complex and expensive. Is it really worth not moving due to fear of change?
If you hold people's information and data, you are responsible and liable for it. Using systems that are not properly supported to keep that data secure means you can be prosecuted for not complying with government or industry regulations. Fines, shutdowns, and even jail time are potential outcomes from not acting responsibly with the information you have been entrusted with.
If you were a taxi driver, would you willingly drive an old car that is no longer maintained and has sporadic issues? Of course not. That’s because your livelihood relies on the economics of your vehicle.
But that is what you are doing if you continue with EOL software. Old software is less reliable and more prone to failure. Even if you are able to find people who will work on it for you, it's going to cost a lot more money, because it takes much more time and expertise.
And if it connects to other systems, be prepared for much more testing time to ensure that all the variables across all systems are working properly. Because there's no guarantee that they will.
EOL software costs more, whether it’s through lost/stolen data, updating and maintaining with third parties, legal liabilities, or lost revenue from downtime or issues.
The sticker price on a new system can sometimes seem large. But the security gained from having well maintained and supported systems is critical.
One side benefit from moving from EOL software is the opportunity to review your company's entire technology stack/architecture. We often see that when going through the cost and process of moving systems: Other changes are made to improve workflows and processes. These often result in net savings for the business. So not only do they spend less, they eliminate their security risks and improve workflows.
If you have software moving towards EOL, it's essential to look at not only replacing the single system, but also assessing your whole technology landscape for opportunities to make larger improvements.
Ultimately, EOL technology is costly to your business in multiple ways. Most technology providers give lots of notice when one of their products is going to be unsupported. That gives you time to assess your options and determine the path you should take.
In some cases, it's migrating to a new version or equivalent product. In others, it’s reorganizing your company's whole technology structure and moving away from a system that was holding you back.
To determine if your system has reached EOL and plan for your next move, check out our End of Life Playbook.