There is still precious little public information out there on this one, but we have heard from several sources that HP is going to be removing many assets from the public HPE FTP site. The removal will occur on March 1, 2016. This includes patches and firmware for Hewlett Packard Enterprise products.
In February 2014 we saw HP start to transition from a fairly open model of distributing drivers, patches and firmware to a much more restrictive model. The goal then was clear, drive more revenue through support contracts. We had discussions with many computer recyclers int hat piece and subsequently and it certainly did have an impact on reselling used HP (now HPE) servers. However, HPE has still provided many patches and firmware via their public ftp site for some time.
HPE does use a number of components such as their ILO, SmartArray controllers, and other devices that do not have generic industry drivers readily available. For example, purchasing a standard Lenovo SAS controller, one can likely find drivers and firmware directly through LSI (now Avago… wait now Broadcom!) The same goes with the multitude of vendors that use industry standard AST2400 BMCs and Intel Ethernet controllers in their servers.
As HPE locks down support downloads in their public FTP site (ftp://ftp.hp.com) we have a situation similar to what other large hardware vendors have done. You must login through the enterprise support portal (e.g. HPE Support Center) or through other approved software management portals to get patches and firmware.
We have also received reports that some of these downloads are already starting to disappear prior to March 1 (due to leap year.) If there are items like cumulative update packs that you rely upon for machines without a HPE support contract, it is best to get those ASAP.
For anyone buying in the secondary market, you will need to ensure that any equipment purchased can be supported via a HPE support contract if you want access to the latest patches and firmware. The alternative, of course, is to look for equipment from vendors who distribute firmware and patches without such contracts.
We are still awaiting March 1 to see exactly what will be taken down and what will be left online.