In the past I have flipped flopped my recommendations for server hardware between Dell and HP. I have never had any reason to recommend one over the other until now. I remember a few years ago hearing a bunch of hoopla about HP starting to require a service contract in order to receive firmware updates. I remember reading a blog post that broke down some of the details at put me a little at ease, so I went along with my business.
John’s post mentioned he thought this could have been a cash grab from service contracts, but HP stated this was not the case. I would recommend reading his article for all the details, but the gist was they were trying to prevent unscrupulous VAR’s from refurbishing Proliant hardware using their firmware. I personally think they were trying to prevent 3rd party service companies like Park Place Technologies from selling aftermarket service contracts. These service contracts are usually much cheaper then OEM, and will likely extend the amount of time a server is in production which means less hardware purchases.
Over the past few years, I have been dealing with mainly Dell PowerEdge devices. These servers do not have the requirement and make it very easy to update. Most of these machines can use their built in Lifecycle controller to automatically scan, download and install needed firmware updates. It is a very easy process, and no support agreement required! Fast forward to today and I find myself working on a HP Server that I spec’d out and installed for a client over 5 years ago. With most of his apps moving to the cloud he had no reason to replace this server. I was checking firmware, and of course with HP’s new policy I can not update the BIOS. So since HP has killed my ability to download the BIOS update, the machine will be sitting with a BIOS from 2011 until it is replaced.
Moving forward, Dell will be the only company getting my blessing in the SMB space. The extra cost of a service agreement for a large number of SMB’s doesn’t fit. Hopefully Dell doesn’t try and follow HP’s lead, but I think if that was the plan it would have happened already.