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Cisco warns of 18-month failure on clock signal data centre components

Mon 13 Feb 2017

Cisco has acknowledged publicly that some components it has produced are likely to fail about 18 months from now, because of a faulty clock signal component common to the affected products.

The range includes optical networking, routing, security and switch products – including Nexus 9000 series switches and 4000 series integrated services routers.

The component in question performs synchronisation functions in circuitry, effectively providing ‘time’ for technical elements to maintain.

Cisco has not revealed the manufacturer of the defective clock signal hardware, but warns that there is no possible metric or indicator that can warn users when the device is failing or heading towards failure. However, it emphasises that 18 months is the earliest beginning that it estimates for the window of failure, expecting all affected items to have experienced failure within three years.

Cisco commented in a statement ‘Once the component has failed, the system will stop functioning, will not boot, and is not recoverable. This component is also used by other companies.’

Currently, shipping products in the range do not have the defect, and Cisco has promised to be proactive in substituting customers under warranty from 16th November 2016 onwards. Since the clock is literally ticking, the company is prioritising the oldest orders of the faulty units.

There is no physical risk associated with the units’ disposition to fail, though systems which depend on them will not be recoverable after the point of failure.

The units in questions are apparently generic in nature, as Cisco states that they are not specific to its own range of data centre products.

Cisco says that it has completed a ‘comprehensive review and assessment’ of the circumstances and protocols which allowed the manufacturing fault to go to market.

There are no security implications for component failure, according to Cisco, which is providing an .xlxs form for clients to request replacements.

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