End Of Life Questions: Alternatives and Sunk Cost

By Michael Lynge On November 3, 2009
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An end-of-life (EOL) announcement on a product that is an integral part of your test strategy is disruptive to schedules, and possibly revenue, as gap analysis is done and transition plans are formed. On the other hand, it forces you to evaluate your lab infrastructure against available solutions, an important exercise that is often pushed to the back burner in the urgency of day-to-day operations and task oversubscription.


Every buying decision is an opportunity to evaluate the current state of all the alternatives on the market to indentify the best solution for your requirements. Unfortunately, the reality is that collapsed schedules and budgets can result in taking the path of least resistance, which leads to considering only the familiar.

Buying more of what you bought before seems reasonable. After all, you evaluated the options at the time, found the best fit for your application, and bought it. But the market is not static. Your products don’t look the same as they did a year ago, and neither do the solutions for your test lab. An EOL product, on the other hand, was likely in decline for some time before the announcement, meaning the product probably already lags the market now, and will increasingly fall behind in features and performance as the market continues to move forward.

An EOL announcement often provides the inertia to do what should be done every time you invest in your lab – investigate all the options to make sure you have the best solution for your application.

Sunk Cost

Sometimes the motivation behind buying more of what you have isn’t hectic schedules or inertia, but sunk cost – the money already spent. But sunk cost is as much an emotional barrier as a financial consideration. The desire to leverage sunk cost creates resistance to change, which can override the opportunity to take advantage of productivity and performance gains available from other platforms.

In an EOL situation, change is inevitable. You can’t leverage sunk cost for future testing because the EOL platform won’t support future technologies. A transition is imperative and it won’t be any cheaper or simpler a year in the future. In fact, if you face this decision now, in a year you could be in a much better position, with productivity gains, a higher-performance test bed and a roadmap that supports your current and on-going development plans.

An EOL announcement is usually unwelcome, but it can also be a wake-up call to find the best-of-breed solution on a platform with a clear future and a commitment to supporting technology at the bleeding edge. Not only will your productivity and reliability improve, you’ll avoid facing another EOL situation in the future.


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