All users of business software will encounter end-of-life software (EOL). It is the term used to describe the point when software vendors stop selling, supporting and patching their software. While there is nothing to stop businesses from using the software beyond this point – and many do continue to use it – doing so poses a real, quantifiable threat to the future success and profitability of your business.
This may sound dramatic, but it is something every business leader, entrepreneur and small business owner needs to understand.
Just a few high-profile recent examples of end-of-life software are listed below, but a quick internet search will reveal there are many more:
So now we’ve explained what EOL is, let’s explain why you should care. I’ve listed five good reasons below, but first we need to talk about Technical Debt.
EOL software is one of the major – but not the only – factors causing technical debt, which is an inevitable issue for any organization that depends upon software. This is because, like cars, domestic appliances and IT hardware, software begins to age or degrade the minute you purchase it.
And, because software needs to be continuously updated to improve the user experience and keep pace with changing business requirements, technical debt can accumulate very quickly.
A useful working definition for technical debt is the combined cost of the multiple maintenance tasks required to keep the product up to date. These will include:
Technical debt starts to become an issue when a) functionality is compromised or b) the cost of maintaining the application is greater than moving to a newer version or c) both.
Not only is EOL software is a major contributor to technical debt, it also bring with it five key risk factors associated which will have an impact way beyond your IT department.
For example, although Microsoft gave advance warning that Windows 7 would be retired in January 2020, research showed that 17 per cent of desktops were still running the operating system as of June 2021. Businesses that failed to adapt paid the price when 98% of the computers impacted by the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack were running Windows 7.
A firewall and anti-virus are not sufficient protection against vulnerabilities that are unpatchable and that hackers are quick to exploit.
To take just one example, the expense of paying Microsoft to patch an EOL operating system can greatly exceed the price of simply replacing the OS. What about the high cost of a mission-critical app failing? These are all things to consider.
Software incompatibility is another issue that will slow down innovation. Very seldom is any piece of software used in isolation from other software and tools. Even if it is just the operating system, but more typically any piece of software will incorporate a wide range of components, plugins, developer tools etc. That means when using EOL software, you can’t always upgrade to the latest and greatest, so you’ll have to hold onto legacy applications (which are likely also EOL or soon-to-be).
Within the technology industry, there is an unspoken rule that new versions of software should be backward compatible. In other words, any application that can use the older version should be able to use the new release. However, in reality this doesn’t always happen. New versions of technical components of a larger system can contain changes that ‘break the system’. The implications of this are very significant. At best this means a major update, at worst you end up rewriting your application. I’ve referenced just two examples below:
Over time you may also find it much harder or impossible to find developers that know and are willing to work on the old software.
You may also find that your software product vendor/developers may not be able to efficiently or reasonably make the product work well on the latest versions of the tools and hence be forced to EOL a piece of software.
The only good news from this is that Developers need to keep a good focus on ensuring that software is maintained and kept up to date. Why is this good? Underlying tools must be maintained to continue to work and be secure. When these tools are EOLed, they rapidly become security and stability liabilities in your enterprise. Without critical security updates, hackers may take advantage of the unpatched vulnerabilities to attack your business.
Your business benefits from having current well maintained and supported software running your operations.
So, what are your options when faced with an EOL date for your software product?
We have established that Technical Debt and EOL software are real issues that all businesses should take very seriously. The implications of simply putting your head in the sand just isn’t an option for a business in 2023. The big question is how can I minimize Technical Debt and the implications of EOL software?
SCAD Software was founded in order to answer this question. For the last two decades we have helped companies of every size, from global organisations to start-ups, to build future-proof software, minimizing technical debt, speeding up innovation and reducing the cost to serve.
You can find out more here.
Tech News You'll
Actually Want To Read
With an illustrious career spanning three decades, Dawie Martins has cultivated expertise in diverse technology-related businesses across various sectors, including Retail, Hospitality, and Consultancy. His journey, which has taken him from a developer's role to Product Management, uniquely positions Dawie to lead the charge in Customer Success and Product Management services for our clients.
In his role as Head of Customer Success, Dawie operates at the intersection of commerce and technology. His mission is to ensure the seamless translation of commercial imperatives into highly effective software applications that not only meet but exceed the outcomes specified by our clients.
For clients engaging SCAD Software to build applications destined for the market, Dawie and his team offer Fractional Product Management Services. They become invaluable partners in crafting and maintaining a product roadmap, assuming the mantle of the product champion within the client organization. This collaborative approach ensures that our clients' visions are realized efficiently and effectively.
Dawie's wealth of experience and his dedication to driving success for our clients make him an indispensable part of SCAD Software's commitment to delivering excellence in every project we undertake.
Shawn De Wet brings to SCAD Software over two decades of unparalleled expertise in software systems delivery. His career exemplifies a relentless pursuit of problem-solving excellence and a commitment to end-user satisfaction, achieved through meticulous system architecture and design. Proficient in core enterprise ERP systems, Shaun's recent achievements stand as a testament to his prowess, including the conception and successful launch of two cutting-edge SaaS products on the robust Azure platform.
While Shawn's professional accolades are impressive, his vitality extends beyond the confines of the office. An ardent lover of the outdoors, as evidenced by his passion for mountain biking, Shawn's dynamic and adventurous spirit infuses our technological endeavors with a fresh perspective and boundless energy.
At SCAD Software, Shawn leads the charge in Operational Delivery of Client solutions. He heads the development team and works closely with our valued clients to ensure they realize their desired outcomes from our technology solutions. His commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction is a driving force behind our success.
Andy Fensham's journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to reshape the software development landscape. With a background in global banking software consultancy, he founded SCAD Software in 1998 with a visionary goal – to address the mounting technical debt that was becoming a liability for businesses worldwide.
Andy's unique blend of technical expertise and business acumen empowers our clients with pragmatic, robust software solutions that yield tangible results. Recognizing the risks posed by outdated software, he pioneered an innovative approach to custom software development, consistently delivering large-scale projects at an astonishing pace – 75% faster than traditional methods.
Andy's dedication not only safeguards our clients' future but also cements SCAD Software's position as an industry trailblazer. He continues to lead our innovation roadmap, constantly seeking new ways to enhance our offerings with more examples of how we can turn “minutes to seconds”.
With an impressive career spanning over three decades in the Technology and Telecoms sectors, Shaun Orpen brings a wealth of experience to his role as Group CEO. His journey began with the groundbreaking entry of Microsoft Excel into the UK market, a stepping stone that eventually led him to play pivotal roles on the UK Executive Board during Microsoft's meteoric rise from £10 million to £1 billion in revenue.
During his tenure at Orange, Shaun spearheaded the division responsible for catering to Small and Medium Businesses in the UK. Since then, he has continued to shape the success of a number of small and global technology enterprises, leveraging his strategic acumen and commercial leadership.
Shaun's unwavering commitment to the convergence of technology and business is evident in his track record of elevating every organization he's been a part of. As the driving force behind SCAD Software's commercial endeavors, Shaun is leading our expansion across the UK, Europe, and the USA.
His steadfast ethical stance, mirrored by his partner Andy Fensham, forms the bedrock of SCAD Software's principles, defining our approach to client interactions and business dealings.
Stephen Moore's illustrious career speaks volumes about his leadership capabilities. With a rich background spanning diverse industries such as Retail, Events, Technology, Telecoms, and Media, he has consistently demonstrated his ability to craft and execute growth, differentiation, and exit strategies in highly competitive markets.
As the visionary Founder/CEO of multiple successful ventures, Stephen has guided five companies from their inception to remarkable exits and IPOs, including the noteworthy £117 million listing of Expocentric Plc on Techmark 2000. His track record extends beyond entrepreneurship; he has played a pivotal role in over 40 companies as a Non-Executive Director, Chairman, Consultant, and Advisor, raising more than £85 million in private and public markets.
What sets Stephen apart is his global perspective, cultivated through extensive work in the UAE, US, Singapore, Hong Kong, and EMEA. This international experience enriches SCAD Software's strategic direction, making him an invaluable asset in our mission to navigate the complex landscape of digital transformation and empower our clients to achieve enduring success.