Sunday, 18 October 2015

How to Use the Site

This article is a quick guide on how to use the web application to create reports on the support status of products you're using. There are a few steps:

  1. Register or log-in to the site so you can save your list of products.
  2. Search for the products you're using.
  3. Add them all to your product list.
  4. Download the report.

In this case I am working on a web application that my company has purchased, the supplier requirements are that it runs on Windows Server 2008 with SQL server 2008 Workgroup. To get it online it's using some Cisco switches and a Cisco ASA Firewall. In this example I'll generate a support roadmap for the system.

1. Register or log-in to the site.

Click the "Register" or "Login" buttons in the top-right of the site and follow the prompts. 

2. Search for the products you're using.

My preferred way of doing this is to click the "All Products" link in the menu and search by typing part of the product name into the search box. You can also browse to products based on their vendor or the category.

The first product is a Cisco 3750G switch so fire up the products page and type "Cisco 3750" into the search bar, several matching products are found and the top one is what I'm looking for so click that link.

Searching for Cisco 3750 network switches

This takes me to a page showing more detailed information on this product, use the button "Add to My Product List".

Cisco 3750G details

3. Add them to Product List

Clicking "Add to My Product List" gives the page showing the product list, which currently only has one item in. You can get to this page using the "My Product List" menu item.

My Product List with just one item

I'll add some more products, the system also uses Windows 2008 server so I'll click the "All Products" link in the menu and use the search again.

Searching for Microsoft Windows Server 2008
Clicking the link in the search result gives me detailed information on Server 2008, including the "Add to My Product List" button which I'll click again, the product list now has both products in:

Product list with two products shown

You can see on the page the support roadmap graph is starting to appear at the bottom. You can also see a few blue windows on the screen with the title "Information". These are providing online help, but they also take up a bit of space so I'll turn them off. This can be done in my profile settings, or by clicking the spanner in one of the boxes titled "settings" and clicking the option to "off" as shown below, then hit "save changes".

They can be turned back on in your user profile, available by clicking your username in the top right and selecting "My Profile".

Disabling the help text

Now I've got a bit of screen back and can see everything on the one page, at the bottom is a box titled "Upgrades Needed During System Lifetime" which can be ignored for now as that's the topic of another article. You can see the product list at the top and the report graph below, hovering the mouse over the graph provides more information.

Report with help boxes turned off to re-gain some screen space

4 . Download the Report

Now I've got a few more products to add, which I'll do in the same way. The "My Product List" page now looks as below. The report can be exported by clicking the download arrow and selecting "Download As", then picking a format. This is also shown below.

Completed Product List, about to download the report

This gives me the final report showing the support status for my system. 

Final Product Support Report

Now you can do what you like with this file, I tend to include it in any designs I'm producing to show the future support status. 

There are several conclusions drawn for this particular system:
  • The Cisco 2960G access switches will go out of support in mid-2017, which is only a year away. So I probably ought to use a different model of switch.
  • The Cisco 3750G switch and ASA5550 firewall are also going out of spuport in 2018 so if I want to keep using the system past that date then I need to see if I can afford a more modern device, to refresh them before 2018 or to accept the risk of them going out of support. The option and implications are discussed in a separate article.
  • The Microsoft products are already in extended support, I need to investigate what that means and whether it's a problem. If it is then I might ask the vendor if they can make their code work on a newer platform, but I suspect they'll want money for that!


This article has walked you through creating a report. There are a few additional functions which may come in useful:
  • Creating and saving multiple reports to track multiple systems.
  • Creating custom products if they aren't listed in the database.

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