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HP's new rules to access Firmware & Driver downloads


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It has come to our attention that HP has change the way we can access HP ProLiant Server Firmware.


Per HP:

Starting February 2014, an active warranty or contract is required to access HP ProLiant Server Firmware updates.”


You can read more about this at:

Firmware Update Access for HP ProLiant Servers


I believe at a minimum this means to access Server Firmware updates we need to create an HP passport account then go to the “Support & Drivers” page and then to the product you need firmware for then link into your passport account a warranty by entering in the Serial Number of your Server(s).  I was able to do it with my Gen8.  (My N54L’s warranty expires next month and my N40L’s are out of warranty.)  With the Gen8 warranty linked in I’ve been able to get to the P222 firmware & driver download pages.  http://homeserversho...-p222-start-up/


We have contacted HP to try and get a better understanding on what this means to our enthusiast community and as soon as we know more we will post that information.


HP has set February 19 as the implementation date of this new policy http://h30507.www3.hp.com/t5/Technical-Support-Services-Blog/Customers-for-life/ba-p/154423#.UvZsoPldV8F 


I'd encourage everyone to be CONSTRUCTIVE in expressing their views to HP.  Explain why it should make long-term business sense, especially in the SMB market sphere, to encourage enthusiast.

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Thanks for starting the topic.

I would really like to understand what HP hopes to achieve by doing this. Other companies have done this with mixed results. When Oracle bought Sun they did this to be profitable, but I believe it was also to kill off the used market. They thought people would buy new Sun servers to replace their old Sun servers, but instead they ported their apps to Linux and ran them on x86 servers. Additionally, this killed off the Solaris tech enthusiast community. I know lots of guys who had Sun boxes at home so they could stay up-to-date on Solaris that they used at work. That all died when Oracle lock things down. On the other hand, Cisco requires a SmartNet agreement to download any firmware. This does not seem to present a problem because every business tech school and college has Cisco equipment and you can always find somebody with a SmartNet agreement to download for you.

I truly believe a manufacturer needs to be profitable so that they can continue to provide products and support for us. I expect that when a product is under warranty a manufacturer provides support through help desk and call centers. When a product is no longer under warranty I realize I am on my own as far as support goes, but I also believe the drivers and firmware should be available to a product as long as it is still being supported by the vendor. I don't understand what the impact to HP would be by offering driver and firmware downloads to everyone. On the other hand I know firsthand that many people call HP support with questions about products that are long past their life and chew up a lot of support time. If I ran a business I would have service contracts on all my products because I would want to assure their up time. I don't think that is practical or necessary for the home user or tech enthusiast. It should be a self-service model.


As stated above I think it's very important that we let HP know our feelings on the issue and this must be done in a constructive format.

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Another thought comes to mind on this topic. I buy HP products because I know through past history I can always get drivers and firmware. HP's driver and firmware support is part of the reason I buy their products. That appears to be changing now. If HP truly wants to do this they should do it on all products moving forward. Maybe this is something they start on Gen 9 servers. That way if someone is considering purchasing a new HP server they will know the rules have changed and they can weigh that into their long-term decision.

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Here is the comment I posted on this page:

I've read your statements above several times and I really don't see why you would do this. What is the benefit to HP or their customers? I do think HP should charge for any help desk or support calls on products that are out of warranty or do not have a service contract. Drivers and firmware are a self-service model, I can't see where this has a huge impact on HP. I assume most midsize and up companies have service contracts on the majority of their equipment. People that do not have contracts tend to be small businesses, home users and tech enthusiasts. By taking the steps you have outlined above you will kill off the three segments I just mentioned. Although these may not be big pieces of business for you this is the farm team for other IT departments. People hone their skills at home with servers and storage products they picked up used. I believe it is a huge benefit to HP to have people learn VMware on HP micro server with a smart array controller in their basement. Later when they have a job in an IT department or when they move to a bigger company they are in a much better position to position HP technology. First hand experience because of my comfort level with HP smart array raid controllers I recommend them frequently to people who would normally buy Adaptec and LSI. These of course are used cards, but there is also no impact to HP support group. We go to the website we download the latest firmware latest drivers wer'e up and running. Oracle did the same thing to Sun a few years ago. Now Solaris is all but dead in the entry-level. I have all HP servers at home, all HP laptops, all HP desktops, HP monitors, several HP tablets, I seldom call HP support, but I do rely on drivers and firmware and now you're turning that off. I'm sure you have reasons why you're doing this but I think you're missing the forest for the trees.


We will see if they approve it:


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Ed Bott sees the implications of this HP to begin charging for firmware updates and service packs for servers



....  Most enterprise customers are already accustomed to purchasing extended support contracts; for them, this change probably won’t have a serious impact. The new policy will have its biggest impact on the low end of HP’s line, which is popular among small businesses and enthusiasts.


The HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L, for example (shown here), was available for sale in 2012 at heavily discounted prices from online sellers, typically under $300. But this widely used server, which contains four drive bays in a compact box that is well under 1 cubic foot, wouldn’t run Windows Server 2012 R2 (or, for that matter, Windows 8.1) for months after their release to manufacturing. Windows Server 2012 R2 was released to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in September 2013 and was generally available in October 2013. But trying to install that OS on a ProLiant MicroServer resulted in a series of errors, with the system hanging at boot. The only workaround was to disable the built-in Gigabit Ethernet controller, a serious limitation for a server.


HP released a firmware fix for the issue in mid-November, 2013. The ProLiant MicroServer N54L, a later version of the N40L with a beefier processor in the same enclosure, suffered from the same flaw, fixed with a firmware update at the same time.


But the MicroServer’s warranty for software is only 90 days after purchase; under the new policy, access to the firmware after 90 days would require the purchase of an HP Care Pack, at current prices of between $126 and $200, roughly half the cost of the original hardware. That’s a hefty price to pay to fix what is arguably a defect in the original product.

For other models, the cost of a Care Pack is even higher. For midrange ProLiant models, a single year’s extended coverage under the Care Pack program can cost well over $1,000.


The issues with the MicroServer aren’t isolated examples. A few years back, HP released an urgent firmware update for some of its blade server models. “Without this critical fix,” the company said, the affected models, “after being in service for an extended period of time, could potentially fail to complete the POST process during any event that causes a power disruption to occur (such as power-cycle, cold boot, or power outage). If the failure occurs and the server cannot complete the boot process, the blade system board must be replaced.”


Another issue affected some ProLiant server models in 2011. Without a required firmware update, which HP characterized as “a critical fix,” the use of certain SATA hard drives could cause data transfer errors. The advisory warned: “Neglecting to perform the required action could leave the server in an unstable condition, which could potentially result in sub-optimal server performance or data corruption or loss. By disregarding this notification and not performing the recommended resolution, the customer accepts the risk of incurring future related errors.” Although this appears to be a defect in HP’s original software design, the new policy would shift the cost of the fix to customers.


HP’s insistence that the new policy “aligns with industry best practices” is inaccurate, at least for server products aimed at smaller businesses. The company’s archrival, Dell, offers unrestricted access to BIOS and software updates for its entire server, storage, and networking line. There are counter-examples, however: Updates for Cisco products, for example, require a valid service contract.


HP’s move looks like a way to bolster margins in a market segment that is historically not accustomed to paying for extended service. The more likely result is that it will drive away those price-sensitive customers.



Be sure to read Ed's entire article and thank him.

Edited by Joe_Miner
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