Brought to you by MSPmentor

Cisco has gone public about a major problem with an outsourced clock signal component installed in a variety of its most popular products – a flaw that if left unrepaired will ultimately destroy the equipment.

The faulty clock signal component – which functions like a type of metronome to synchronize the operation of digital circuits – affects some of Cisco’s best selling products, including ASA security devices, Nexus 9000 series switches and series 4000 integrated services routers.

The manufacturer says the component is currently performing normally but that it expects to see increasing product failures after the hardware units have been in use for 18 months or more.

“Once the component has failed, the system will stop functioning, will not boot, and is not recoverable,” Cisco officials said in a statement.

The same clock signal component is also installed in hardware from other unnamed manufacturers, the Cisco statement said.

Cisco said it is already reaching out to customers about fixes.

“Cisco will proactively provide replacement products under warranty or covered by any valid services contract dated as of November 16, 2016, which have this component,” the company said. “Due to the age-based nature of the failure and the volume of replacements, we will be prioritizing orders based on the products’ time in operation.”

In the near term, the advisory likely means big headaches for IT services providers, who must identify and replace affected units that might exist in on-premises environments they manage.

At least one remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform vendor took the opportunity to remind service providers about the importance of having a powerful network inventory tool that can quickly identify all infrastructure devices.

“Many MSPs don’t have accurate or up-to-date information about the devices on their client networks,” Alex Hoff, vice-president of sales and product at Auvik, said in a statement.

“They’ll need to run potentially hundreds of commands to identify if a device is subject to the Cisco notice,” he continued. “It’s something an MSP must do, but it takes time—and we all know, time is money.”