Why End of Life is the start of something new for security

On April 8th 2014, Microsoft Windows XP went End of Life. Support, patching, and security updates for the platform came to an end amid fears of a so-called ‘Xpocalypse’.

On July 8th 2014, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 is exiting mainstream support. While security updates will continue to appear, this marks the beginning of the long road towards end of life – currently scheduled for 2019.

But wherever a product is on the way to End of Life (EOL), there are new opportunities for the IT security industry. New chances to provide useful solutions, or capitalise on the natural upgrade path.

For us, the end of one thing is simply the start of something new.

When End of life isn’t an ending at all

When a product reaches EOL, that doesn’t mean people stop using it. In February 2014, Windows XP actually saw growth in its market share despite its EOL status being widely known.

When something goes EOL, that doesn’t mean it instantly stops being useful and popular. Users already know Windows XP inside out, while many important applications for an organisation may require significant overhaul to become compatible with newer releases.

Meanwhile, upgrading from XP is an expensive, time consuming, and potentially complex process for larger organisations – and one that won’t necessarily deliver any immediate benefits.

With those things in mind, it’s little surprise that Windows XP will continue to be used beyond its EOL.

But these users will face new security concerns. When vulnerabilities are discovered, they will remain unpatched and unresolved.

It would be natural to think that, in the course of its 13 year lifetime, Windows XP would have been eradicated of any significant vulnerability. But, as Heartbleed has recently reminded us, serious vulnerabilities can lie unnoticed for several years.

Anybody who continues to use Windows XP must be aware of vulnerabilities as they are discovered, learning about their potential impact. It’s with that information that they can make better decisions about staying secure.

Companies like AlienVault take a unified approach to security, sharing data and intelligence to improve awareness of vulnerabilities. They discuss the specific issues surrounding Windows XP in this useful interview.

And for security resellers, AlienVault Unified Security Management (USM) is a strong proposition. Customers using software beyond EOL need to find out about vulnerabilities fast – and that’s exactly what USM provides.

The advantage of upgrades

Of course, many of the people who will upgrade from Windows XP will have done so long ago. The process is a gradual one, taking place over the course of several years.

Every one of these years brings with it new opportunities for resellers.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 is going towards EOL, albeit at a slow, measured pace. As a result, more and more people are choosing to upgrade to System Center 2012.

For resellers, this is an excellent time to upsell to other complementary solutions in the spirit of bringing everything up to date.

For System Center 2012, Flexera Corporate Software Inspector is the perfect match. The platform includes a plugin that integrates third-party application patching into System Center itself.

For end-users, that means getting Microsoft and third-party patching in a single console, saving time and minimising the workload.

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