Progressive requirements for Servers & Storage systems set by the EU

Driven to reach Sustainability and Circular economy goals, Europe wants to lead the change. The EU Ecodesign Directive is one of the EU tools; aimed at setting mandatory minimum requirements for individual product groups. For new Servers and Storage, ENTR Lot 9, this has now been published and will become effectively in March 2020. Free ICT Europe participated in this process.

Policy changing elements have been added to stimulate Repair/maintenance, reuse/resell and recycling and to increase the life-cycle of systems. These new measures come on top of a barrier for max. energy consumption, which has historically been the primary objective of the Ecodesign Directive.

The EU sets the direction by addressing a few new elements, part of the so called Material Aspects:
• (2020) Manufacturers shall ensure that joining, fastening or sealing techniques do not prevent the disassembly for repair or reuse purposes of the key components.
• (2020) A functionality for secure data deletion shall be made available for the deletion of data contained in all data storage devices of the product.
• (2021) The latest available version of the firmware shall be made available from two years after the placing on the market for a minimum period of eight years after the placing on the market of the last product of a certain product model, free of charge or at a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory cost. The latest available security update to the firmware shall be made available from the time a product model is placed on the market until at least eight years after the placing on the market of the last product of a certain product model, free of charge.
• (2020) As part of free accessible product information; instructions on the disassembly operations, including type of fastenings and tools required. Also Information about some materials used (Cobalt, Neodymium) at component level should be provided as input to recyclers.
• The first review is moved forward: already starting in 2021, a draft ready in March 2022.

A large discussion took place about the energy requirements, as the initial setup focussed solely on Idle state power consumption and would have led that only 25% of the current new systems would comply. The final requirements now involve also the active state power consumption as well.

“We see this legislation as a step in the right direction and are proud that the European Commission made the decision to address new elements in legislation that will give more freedom to end-users and will have a positive effect on the businesses that provide repair, maintenance and ICT resellers.”

A step forward, though room for improvement
A number of missed opportunities can be addresses though. Firstly, the scope of the directive; at first it would include Networking Equipment, next to that the systems are only mainstream: the whole setup is a puzzle, though roughly said Servers up to 4 CPU sockets and Storage up to max capacity of 400 disks. We pledge to extend this at least to apply the material aspects to all. Good news is that this discussion is already planned for the review.

Severe discussion took place about firmware updates. Free ICT sees this primarily as fixes that are required for the system to operate as it should, therefor should be free of charge.

The directive does not include a number of topics that are important for reuse and repair/maintenance: access to full diagnostics, clear rules for license transfer, no statement addressing the import restrictions of Used systems (no open Circular Economy), maintenance reinstatement fees, spare parts availability in a timely manner, license programs and a compatibility grid to stimulate upgrading. Still work to do for the review!
Next to Servers & Storage, the new Ecodesign package will improve five other products: lighting, fridges, TV screens, dishwashers and washing machines.

“An interesting development that also can be seen here is that Resource Efficiency is becoming probably the most important element. How are products designed, made repairable and upgradeable to last longer will surpass energy consumption?”

What is next for Ecodesign?
The Lot 3, PC/Laptop/Tablet review will be (re-)started. A product group for Smartphones is planned; a strong call has been made by parliament to start with this. Next to Free ICT Europe, also several organisation and countries asked for a product group for Networking Equipment.

When you are interested in the work done by FIE, want to join the alliance or stay up to date, please visit our website (to be renewed soon).

No power without data. One of the most important surveys for the future of your business

The Free ICT Europe Foundation is lobbying the European Commission and the European Parliament. An expert assessment of the market and its current issues is necessary to inform the view of policymakers in Brussels.

Deloitte Economic Advisory has been asked to accompany Free ICT Europe in providing a plan and a report for an economic assessment of the impact of the identified OEM practices. Receiving data and information from the market is essential for this.

In this regard, a questionnaire concerning the ICT aftermarket has been set up. Your responses to the questionnaire are key to perform the study and to present convincing arguments on the value and importance of the secondary IT market in Europe.

When you are active in this market and did not receive an invitation and the link to this questionnaire, please reach out to us at

The scope and quality of the final report depends to a large extent on inputs and data provided. As public data on the importance of the secondary IT market in Europe is not available, your input is key!

Deloitte Economic Advisory will be responsible for collecting and analyzing the data for the purpose of preparing a report on the secondary Free ICT market. Data will not be disclosed neither to Free ICT Europe, nor any Free ICT member or third party. It will be collected solely for the purpose of writing the report. Data will only be presented at an aggregated level and deleted afterwards.

Free ICT Europe contributes towards EU Standards – Places secondary market on the agenda

Europe is moving:increasing special requirements for product types through EU Ecodesign product groups.

At first these were focussed on energy reduction. However following review it and putting an emphasis on circular economy aspects, it appears that improvements to stimulate materials used, repair, reuse and recycling should be added – underpinned by a standard for all product classes.

To deliver this general standard the “JCT10” project will build a proposal. Free ICT Europe has provided input to the current text versions of three working groups that have influence in the IT aftermarket: Durability, Remanufacturing/Refurb and Repair, Reuse, Upgrade.


Within our comments we want to make clear that the independent channel is an important contributor to facilitate the extension of life-cycle, reuse and repair of ICT equipment. Also practical issues regarding Firmware, Diagnostics and Passwords are being addressed.

The General Standard will be placed above the current Ecodesign product specific groups. Having our issues addressed at this General level is our target. It will mean easier acceptance at the review at product level (Servers & Storage) while for a new product group (Networking?) this will also be applied.


To gain more insight in Ecodesign and what it does contribute to our position in the market, please listen to our Podcast with Davide Polverini.

To learn more about the JCT10, get involved with Free ICT Europe and make a difference please contact us.

Podcast: Ecodesign Servers & Storage includes also repair, resale and firmware

Ecodesign provides EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of products, both business as consumer. This directive sets requirements for new equipment. Beyond energy consumption restrictions, it will also contain elements to stimulate independent repair, resale and other Circular elements.

EU policy officer Davide Polverini informs you about:

· Developments in Circular Economy and Sustainability
· Ecodesign opening the market for Independent service providers
· Data deletion tool requirement: preventing destruction of disks
· Firmware availability requirement
· Ecodesign stimulating refurbishment, reuse and resale
· Ecodesign as a tool to extend product life cycle

FIE presents: Podcast IoT and the right to repair when human life is at stake

FIE welcomes you to listen to our first Podcast.

In this episode Martin Thompson from Free ICT Europe speaks with mr. Arthur van der Wees of Arthur’s Legal on the challenges of developing free and competitive markets around the Internet of Things.

Discussion topics

  • Introduction of Arthur, background, his firm and activities
  • Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI)
  • IoT developments for Enterprises
  • IoT and Serviceability / ability to update / upgrade / sustainability
  • Lifecycle of device data
  • The interdisciplinary approach to IOT innovation
  • Market adoption of IOT devices to improve industries and stimulus culture
  • Standards


Mr. Arthur van der Wees | Arthur’s Legal B.V.

Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI)

WannaCry ? Time has come so dry your tears and act!

The unprecedented ransomware attack that started on 12th May was wholly predictable and a wakeup up call of reality to a sleepwalking world.

Everyone seems to have a view on the attack with traditional media and social media being red hot with comments and finger pointing; according to Microsoft it’s all the fault of the NSA . In today’s world this is to be expected but it is only through serious investigation that the truth will be uncovered and this is the role of the authorities, supported by experts. We can all only hope they succeed in their endeavours.

We must resist the temptation of naivety. Our industry is renowned for its ability in providing innovation and making possible today what was only a dream yesterday but that ability brings with it the paradox that has been with us since the first computer was designed; the products which are launched on the market, either hardware of software, are vulnerable. No manufacturer of IT products can pretend their systems are without a hole or a door that ill-intentioned and very determined individuals or organisations can enter to either steal our identities, to spy on our private lives or to kill our businesses. It is a very reasonable paranoia to declare that WannaCry is just a taste of our future and a clarion call of what is to come.

There are many on-going debates around the world with purpose of setting up rules, providing guidance and introducing policies to deal with the threat so we can be prepared. For example in the US one debate is clearly described in a report under the title “Law Enforcement Using and Disclosing Technology Vulnerabilities” . The questions raised in this report can be condensed as, should we make public a vulnerability to which there is no associated fix and how should we organize and reward the community of “good guys” that detect the vulnerabilities and fix them before hackers exploit them? Those who read the report will be disturbed to discover that security agencies are playing on 2 boards of the same game by exploiting for their own needs the vulnerabilities. This is the real world we are living in and we will not change it by simply trying to wish it away. We have to face the facts and be cognisant of reality.

Contained within the report is a detail which is of most interest for our secondary market industry. On Page 2 is a short but clear definition in a grey box under the title Relevant Terms. Vulnerability is defined as “a security hole or weakness in hardware, software, or firmware that can leave it open to becoming compromised.” Previous attempts at defining vulnerabilities have never been as clear. Reviewing the “Common and Vulnerabilities Exposures” (CVE) web site we can read : “A “vulnerability” is a weakness in the computational logic (eg. code) found in software and some hardware components (eg. firmware)…”. We are glad that the definition provided in the report takes us one step further than the CVE definition with the clear distinction between hardware, firmware and software being independently potential sources of vulnerability that require discreet fixes. This definition reflects the point of view of Free ICT Europe despite the many debates and attempts by OEMs and Software Companies to make it confusing.
For our precious secondary market to move forward and be a part of a secure future the lessons to be learned are easy to summarise:
– Firmware & Software updates that fix vulnerabilities should be applied on a regular routine basis and in emergency when an attack in imminent or in progress
– If it is a customer responsibility to keep their infrastructure up to date and protect them with all technological means, independent services providers should advise customers of serious threats which are in the scope of the commitments of their services agreements
– OEMs and Software Companies should make available without charge, unfettered and in an expeditious way all vulnerability fixes, without the precondition of a service agreement and allow independent providers to act on the behalf of their customers

The last point in the list is one of the main positions we defend at Free ICT Europe. We have tirelessly campaigned to raise the awareness of the stakeholders and are heavily involved in the legislative agenda of the European Commission.
In discussions with the new initiative of Directive for Ecodesign , we have successfully introduced the obligation on an OEM to provide firmware updates in to their project. This is just a first step but we will not giving anything away.
To enable us to reach the goals that will benefit us all your support is more than precious and we are thankful for your contributions. The very future of our industry is in our collective hands.
Don’t give up, be part of the solution and join us. We need you, you need us, we all need each other.





FIE Meeting, June 22 – Dublin

As the EU recognised us as the official representative of the ICT Aftermarket, it is our responsibility to connect with the organisations which voice we are. To share information, concerns and experiences we see personal meetings as very valuable and prefer a smaller and confidential setting.

We are pleased to invite you for our upcoming Free ICT Europe Foundation meeting: June 22nd – Dublin, Ireland

The meeting will be hosted by Origina Ltd., their office is at a 30 min drive from Dublin Airport. The meeting will start at 13.00pm


Your questions might be: What is happening in your Marketplace? What will be the impact on your business and strategy?

The foundation started based on concerns and the will to do something. We moved from creation awareness to actually becoming a part of changes in legislation. To move on, we need input and support.

This is no commercial gathering. Free ICT Europe unites, though takes no part in commercial partnerships and/or deals.

For Who?

We invite directors and management to join for this meeting. When you want to be accompanied with your Legal advisor, this is possible.

Though we see that our efforts are appreciated by end-users, we do not invite them for this meeting.

Confirm your attendence!

You can register by contacting us by e-mail or the contact form. No costs involved for the meeting: we are a guest of Origina, for the dinner we ask all to pay for themselves.

Out suggesting for the hotel is: The Beacon Hotel, 4 stars, distance 700m. We gladly support with the hotel reservation using our special rate(until May 19th).

Looking forward to speak to you in Dublin.


EU inaction would costs taxpayers €1bn+& hands it straight to US multinational

The EU made a Decision in 2011 to break the monopoly of IBM on the secondary market of maintenance and support of IBM mainframes. During the last five years mainframe users who chose Independent Service Providers (ISP) as an alternative to IBM, have reaped the benefit of millions of euro in costs savings as is to be expected in a fair, open and competitive landscape.

This Decision expired on December 14th 2016 when, in accordance with the spirit of competition rules it was expected that all the stakeholders involved would  come to a gentleman’s agreement to renew it on equitable terms. If the regulatory authorities cannot make a difference in applying Article 101 & 102 of the “Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union” (TFUE) this case shows its limitations in the real world.

ISPs need a long term “(main)frame of regulation” to protect their investments, their skills and their customers. Customers need to be sure ISPs will be able to comply with their needs. Customers need the certainty there is an authority that is strong enough to guarantee the balance between IBM and ISPs and, in case of any infringement, an authority that has the power to impose penalties.

It is illusory to believe that a multinational such as IBM would act in compliance with a Decision that is expired. It is  more realistic to consider that IBM would impose, without any negotiation, unilateral Terms and Conditions that dramatically reduces the level of the obligations IBM was forced to accept. The reality is that IBM is now ready and prepared to engage in a fast winback of the market share of the ISPs on the secondary market of services.

As a result the cost to Europe will be in excess of €250m.per year through higher maintenance and support costs with potentially up to €1bn in additional capital costs as the US giant, International Business Machines Corp (IBM), takes back total control of the mainframe hardware market in Europe.

Who will pay? Well of course it will be the European taxpayers and consumers of the large European organisations such as banks, insurance companies and financial institutions that still invest in this reliable technology that is critical to their businesses.

Don’t sleep at the wheel !

Having been alerted by the ISPs and then on its own initiative, the EU took bold step in dealing with the discriminatory behaviour toward competing suppliers of mainframe maintenance and support services. In 2016 the EU has to investigate again as, to not do so they will be handing back to IBM complete control of this lucrative market.

Despite the efforts of many European bodies and organisations to warn the EU of the potential costs of not renewing this arrangement, the Decision has not been renewed.

Nevertheless, the EU has received many requests from ISPs to re-open the case in order to renew the Decision. There is no doubt that any upcoming investigation will demonstrate IBM will again be in a monopoly without the Decision, and will come to the same conclusion it did in 2011.

Free ICT Europe is calling on the EU to make this a priority.


The inevitable impact of this on the European IT services providers who operate in this sector are job losses. Of even greater significance will be the inevitable job losses from the organisations that use mainframes as they struggle with higher costs and the need to reduce their IT budgets. People are always the first thing to go in times of austerity.

For more information email to: or call +(31) 30 698 2698

IBM EU Commitments

Five years ago the Directorate General of Competition of the European Union made a Decision related to the maintenance and the support of the IBM Mainframes. It was the result of a complaint filed 2 years before. This Decision could be compared to an earthquake as it was the first time in Europe a big IT player was forced to provide TPM’s with necessary inputs to compete on the secondary market of services. It was as well the first time a Decision article 9 was taken against an US company in favor of independent European companies. IBM was force to provide Commitments and the European Commission made them binding with a 10% penalty on the worldwide turnover in case of infringement or circumvention. This was in 2011.

Since we know how most of OEMs have been arguing about Intellectual Property in order to first withdraw the rights of customers to access bugs fixes for free and then foreclose the secondary market of services for the TPMs.

It is worth to notice that IBM was preparing its policy change (microcode update access restrictions) for Power Servers and Storage Solutions while in the meantime the company was forced to commit on making them accessible at reasonable terms and conditions microcode updates, spare parts and configuration records for mainframes.

The EU Decision will end December 14, 2016 and the subsequent contract some TPM signed (aka “TPM Agreement”) will expire at the same date. We bet the terms and conditions of the new TPM Agreement proposed by IBM will be reviewed to their lowest level while not being under the control of a Decision.

Also when you are not dealing in Mainframe products or services, this has still impact; the domination of IBM will increase their position in other segments and deeply inspire other OEMs and Software companies.

So doing nothing is absolutely no option. To get the required attention FIE supports a new complaint that has been filed to request the Commission to renew their Decision.

Update on Resale of Software

Since 2012 Reselling Software has been started by a number of brokers. Though little has been done to reassure owners of surplus software licenses and shelfware that, yes, indeed, licenses can be marketed and sold on. The European Court has restated the legality of the resale of software in Europe in its latest judgment: even where the license agreements signed up to by the licensee declared that the software was non-assignable and only for that particular licensee’s internal business purposes. But the court confirmed that the principle does not extend to software transferred on back-up discs.

Software vendors do not have not been very active in mentioning the resale option to customers. On the other side they cannot be too dismissive: they are constrained by competition (anti-trust) laws in seeking to inhibit the market in indirect ways. This can include discriminating against their customers, refusing support or seeking higher prices from those using pre-owned software. The jeopardy for them is a finding of abuse, damages and fines of up to 10% of their group’s global turnover.

An interesting perspective on support for secondary software being a potential growth market: Support costs on software generally exceed, over time, the initial license fees paid. This means that, if there were a new user of redundant software, there is the possibility of extending the vendor’s customer base and increasing, rather than damaging, its income.

Link to full article by Robin fry