Nothing is certain but death or taxes. In technology, we’ve come to expect the unexpected, particularly when it’s labeled EOL. An EOL (end of life) notice is given when a manufacturer decides to discontinue a product. In the quest to make better, faster, and more efficient products or meet customer demand, tech suppliers phase out older products.
But no one likes sudden surprises like finding a product you need is not being manufactured any longer. The prospect of finding a replacement can cause some anxiety. The alternative, upgrading all your technology, is supremely expensive.
Don’t freak out. Understanding why, what the process is, and what you can do about it can spare you a lot of stress.
There are several reasons why a product is discontinued including:
- Advances in technology left that product behind;
- Scarcity of a particular resource or component like semi-conductors or a material shortage caused by supply chain issues;
- Compliance issues. To comply with government regulations, the vendor can’t get a particular electronic component or any product manufactured in certain countries;
- Planned obsolescence. To maximize profits, many products have a life cycle built into them and are “phased out” in order for manufacturers to introduce something newer and more profitable.
The EOL Process
Many manufacturers give six months to as much as two years’ notice that they will discontinue a product. How much notice you get depends on company policies and why that product is being discontinued. Often the product is phased out in stages. For a certain period of time after the product or while the product is being discontinued, some companies offer support for the product. Some companies work with partners who continue to provide technical help for a product that’s no longer available for purchase after your vendor no longer offers technical support.
If you’ve been given that EOL notice, there are more options available to you then you realize, particularly if you’re dealing with a reputable vendor.
- Depending on why that product has been phased out, your vendor may be able to source the product from their network of manufacturing partners. If the technology has moved ahead, and an older product phased out, it’s usually not difficult to source the older product. If there’s a supply chain or shortage issue, finding the product can be more difficult. Even in that scenario, some fiber optics suppliers can stock that item for you to prepare for shortages or you may be able to find a vendor who specializes in hard-to-get or discontinued products.
- Your supplier may be able to offer a long-term, short-term or permanent replacement product. Transceivers of a certain form factor meet specific engineering requirements (as regulated by MSA) and there may be another product that meets those specifications.
- If you’re given sufficient notice of a transceiver being “EOL’d,” you will often be offered a “last time buy” (LTB) (take advantage!) or your vendor may have product samples on hand.
The best way to avoid calamities and unnecessary stress is to prepare for the prospect that a product may be phased out. When you get an EOL notice, you are typically given sufficient lead time to come up with a plan. Stocking an item that is going to be discontinued makes sense; some companies will help you with this. Having a contingency plan helps a lot.
Looking for hard-to-find transceivers? Vitex has been providing fiber optics products and solutions to our customers in the US since 2003. Contact us at email@example.com to find an alternate solution.