We are a small organization that bought into 4506E chassis switches for our networking about 10 years ago, mainly due to the 10 gig backbone capability. As I expect most people with 4500E are aware, the 6L-E supervisor goes officially end of life in 2020, even though it still does everything we need and more, and there is no technical reason to replace it other than Cisco's forced obsolescence of a perfectly good functional device.
The official replacement route is the 8L-E for $12,000 per switch, of which we have three, so um, $36,000 to replace all of them. Then in 2022 all the line cards also go obsolete, leaving only the power supplies, fan trays, and chassis as original equipment,
Due to financial difficulties, Cisco is just too expensive for us. Either I find some way to continue with Cisco at a cost far below what Cisco would normally demand...
Or we are chucking all the Cisco 4500E out the door and changing over to HPE / Aruba Procurve 5400R ZL2 with its lifetime warranty, free replacement parts, and free software updates without any annual support agreement, which will cost significantly less than replacing all the Cisco hardware and the annual support for it.
The current plan to outlive the end of life of the 6L-E is to buy two spare 6L-E supervisors for each one we have now, to be kept onsite as hotspares preloaded with the last available OS update, and a mostly current configuration. These will be kept next to the switches to be slotted in if the primary supervisor fails for some reason. As an approaching EOL component, a refurbished 6L-E is easily obtained for about $50 each.
I will be buying an entire additional 4500E chassis and power supply on eBay to use as an offline testbed for configuring these supervisors without touching our mainline hardware.
The other option to upgrade on the cheap, is to buy the new 8L-E supervisor as a refurbished component. I see people selling it for about $1000 refurbished rather than the $12,000 Cisco wants for it new.
Though the next problem is software for the 8L-E. Since this is purchased outside of official channels, will Cisco allow me to access the software for it with a SmartNet subscription? Would Cisco SmartNet allow for replacement of the cheapo refurbished components?
Or would I need to keep a few additional refurbished 8L-E on-hand as hotspare replacements? This is not too painful to stomach. Even if I buy three 8L-E refurbished for $1000 each, then three more refurbished kept as a hotspare for each switch, for a total cost of $6000, this is still far cheaper than the official $36000 for these three supervisors, then with proper warranty support from Cisco...
Okay, so the existing Supervisor 6L-E, using the final Cisco OS release in February, right before the official EOL on Feb 29, 2020, is what it will have to be for the next several years.
I am aware of the security concerns of running old switch software, but this is not a significant problem for us. These switches are not exposed to the Internet, they sit behind a firewall on a LAN, so them not running the absolutely newest Cisco OS is not really an issue. They can't be probed or hacked from the Interwebs.
It would be a more serious concern if we were some big ISP using these for backbone traffic on the public Internet. But in that case we would have the money for the supervisor upgrade.