Cisco Hardware End-of-Life Options

Is your Cisco gear approaching end-of-life (EOL)? What now? 

Understand Cisco end-of-life and your options. Rethink your approach and reap the benefits. 

  • Apr 6, 2021
  • The Team at CXtec


Is your Cisco gear approaching end-of-life (EOL)? What now? 

Understand Cisco end-of-life and your options.

Cisco Hardware End-of-Life (EOL): An Overview 

What are your options when your Cisco hardware approaches its manufacturer end-of-life? That’s a good question. That question gets asked often There’s good reason.  While there seems like a single approach to managing you end-of-life hardware, there are several options available to you.  

First, it’s good to review what end-of-life means.  According to Cisco here is the definition: 

“A process that guides the final business operations associated with the Cisco product, service or subscription life cycle. The end of life process consists of a series of technical and business milestones and activities that, once completed, make a product, service or subscription obsolete. Once obsolete, the product, service or subscription is not sold, improved, maintained, or supported.” 

If you’d like to know more, check out the entire end-of-life policy.  

Cisco explains that they look at several factors when it comes to determining end of life for a product. Some of these factors are as follows: 

  • Technology innovations 
  • Market demands 
  • Development changes 
  • Product maturation 

Knowing the definition of end-of-life means your hardware is deemed obsolete, now what do you do? 

The Conventional Approach to EOL Hardware 

Cisco EOL - OEM Cycle / timelineThe conventional approach to handling end-of-life hardware is pretty simple.  As your Cisco equipment  gets closer to the end-of-life date, you evaluate what you have in your network and what new Cisco products will be the replacements for the EOL equipment.   

You may talk it over with a sales representative or a product manager to see what the next new product is that you will buy to take the place of your existing Cisco switches, routers, wireless gear, or other products.  

You see what trade-in value you might get for your existing gear. You take your existing hardware out of your network.  Then you go ahead with purchasing the new products. Then you install the new products.  

This process works for a lot of organizations. However, it leads to some reasonable questions. 

  • What if the existing hardware is doing a great job? 
  • What if you don’t need the latest features of the newest hardware? 
  • What if you don’t require a rapid refresh? 
  • What happens if you have a limited budget or budget constraints? 
  • If you don’t have the money in the budget to upgrade, how will you get support for your products? 
  • Are there any options that will allow your organization to extend the lifecycle of certain hardware when it makes sense? 

For people who work for organizations that may have these questions or face certain business conditions, are there option for them too?  Fortunately, the answer is yes.  

Is the conventions Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) approach to EOL hardware the only way?  

Again, while the OEM process to managing hardware through the product end-of-life works for many, there may be circumstances where it’s not ideal. In those cases, there are alternatives to the conventional approach.  With the market demanding alternatives and solutions to these challenges, companies have created high quality product and service offerings. That is good news because it gives you the power to optimize your hardware and maintenance while managing costs.

What Are Your Cisco EOL Hardware options? 

Now that you have identified that your business circumstances, budgets, and needs might not match up perfectly with the OEM timeline, what options do you have? What you choose to do will depend on your unique conditions and goals. That said, here are some alternative options that will help you customize you approach. 

Maintenance on aging / EOL Cisco hardware 

Yes. You can get maintenance and support for a wide range of aging and end-of-life network hardware and IT equipment. Industry leaders in the hardware space have developed third-party maintenance options. This allows your to decide on a mix of products and support that suit you instead of the OEM timeline.

  • What products you will upgrade / refresh and are ideal for OEM maintenance
  • What products are serving you well, don't need upgrading, and can go on a third-party maintenance & support
  • Potentially use spares strategically to help make your life easier and avoid downtime in sticky situations


A holistic approach allows you to manage your budget, avoid unneeded purchases, optimize your network, and think strategically about hardware lifecycle management. 

Don't limit your thinking to a single conventional option. When your Cisco hardware is EOL and deemed obsolete, the OEM starts decreasing how much support they will give to you and your product. This makes some people nervous and they feel they have to buy new equipment to get product support. This is not the case. Look into third-party maintenance from top solutions providers specializing in lifecycle management. 

Dispose of equipment safely & get maximum value 

This is another option people do not use well enough. Over the years, companies in the industry have developed programs to purchase your used network hardware, servers, and other IT equipment at a price that is often greater than trade-in value. These programs have increased with the increasing demand for pre-owned IT equipment, as it has been proven highly reliable over decades and with in industry research. These programs span from the very simple buyback to large scale IT asset disposition projects. The industry leaders who offer these programs are reputable, have a quality process, and ensure data security.

And added benefit is that you can do this whenever you like, not just at the time you want to buy a new product. Plus, you can get the option to get your payment in cash or credit. That means you can get cash to help you on other projects or initiatives for equipment you just might not need any longer. 

Purchasing newer pre-owned hardware instead of latest & greatest 

Another option to consider is something that has become a common practice among organizations from SMB to the Fortune 500. That is strategic use of pre-owned IT equipment and network hardware. This could be switching & routing, servers, IP phones, wireless gear, and all kinds of related modules, parts, and accessories.  Why opt for pre-owned equipment?

You may not need the newer alternatives. There are proven hardware providers with very high reliability ratings and tons of great customer reviews who offer end-of-life Cisco equipment and other IT hardware. With IT teams being asked to do more with less, they are adopting an approach that uses a strategic mix of new and pre-owned equipment to get all the performance and reliability they need while lowering costs.  With the money left over that they save, they can use it for other initiatives or high priority projects. 

End-of-life Cisco: Alternatives to OEM process

Your Cisco EOL Approach should be based on your goals & your situation

Let briefly go over some of the concerns or factors you might want to consider when your hardware is approaching end-of-life. 

Does your organization have rapid hardware refresh cycles?   

If so, you may want to stick with the conventional OEM process for your Cisco hardware. There are experts to help answer your questions about what latest & greatest equipment would fit your needs. You may still find use for some of the alternatives options listed above to supplement your overall hardware strategy, but if you are consistently doing rapid refreshes and using latest & greatest, the conventional OEM path is probably your top option. 

Limited Budget / Budget Constraints? 

If your company or organization if facing tight budgets already, you have to be careful how you allocate budget dollars and resources. If your technology needs require the latest features, you may have to be creative with your budget to get that latest product. However, if your switching, routing, phones, and other gear are serving your purposes, why use limited budget dollars to buy products you don't need? 

If you have have a limited budget, you would be wise to look at your network and devise a strategy to use a mix of new and pre-owned hardware and a blend of OEM and third-party maintenance and support. 

Extend hardware lifecycles?

If you are looking to extend the useful life of your hardware, that objective is in stark contrast to the conventional OEM process and timeline. When your hardware is approaching EOL time, opt for the alternative options of third-party maintenance, pre-owned hardware, buy-back programs, and secure IT asset disposition.

Get Maximum Value for Your Used Hardware? 

If you want to get top dollar for your used equipment, you may not wait until you buy new equipment and trade-in value becomes an after thought or a deal sweetener. Look to quality companies who proactively offer market value for hardware. This gives you more ability get a higher value for your IT assets and help you do more with your budget dollars. 


Have more questions about EOL Cisco equipment? Want to know more about the right approach for you? Drop us a line.