Everybody loves a good discount but finding the best price for commodity networking gear shouldn't be a guessing game. Too often, however, manufacturers mark up common components more than other products, causing enterprises to overpay for some portions of their network.
Even I&O leaders who keep a watchful eye on their IT spend to reduce capital-intensive network purchases can fall victim to aggressive sales tactics. Another downfall is agreeing to blanket discounts that look good on the surface but reveal some level of price-gouging if you dig deeper.
Be forewarned: Manufacturers and their channel partners will likely resist providing a detailed breakdown of specific pricing and associated discounts for each piece of your network purchase. But getting this information is the only way you can truly know what each item costs and if you should source common parts elsewhere.
Here are some tips for getting the most from your IT and networking budget. And remember, this advice is not isolated just to networking gear; it can be applied to all IT equipment, including servers.
Don't agree to a single discount level: Manufacturers want to paint all gear with the same brush, but you could be leaving money on the table if you don't ask for a deeper discount in certain cases. For instance, common components, including network transceivers, typically come with a bigger markup, so there's room to negotiate a better price. Why settle for a 33% discount across the board when there are some items you might be able to get for at 75% off list price? If you don't ask, they don't tell.
Don't believe manufacturer FUD on third-party gear: I've spent years debunking manufacturer FUD on all types of topics relating to alternative equipment procurement and third-party maintenance. One common misconception among enterprises is that purchasing third-party optics is illegal or they're inferior. Neither is true, even though manufacturers and traditional resellers use these scare tactics relentlessly to deter independent equipment purchases.
In reality, there's a wealth of third-party optical transceivers on the market that are indistinguishable from name-brand products except for the price. It's noteworthy that manufacturers actually buy their transceivers from master suppliers—the same ones used by third-party optics providers.
Get an independent review: The only way to truly know if you are getting the most bang for your buck is to hire an independent party to review your network equipment proposal before signing on the dotted line. Having an unbiased expert examine both your price quote and proposed equipment list is optimal, as we've encountered countless situations where manufacturers tried to "make back" some of their discount by including over-qualified or more expensive yet unnecessary equipment options. Enlisting the help of an impartial party to look after your best interests will more than pay for the cost to include them in your final evaluation and purchase process.
Any network purchase represents a substantial hit to your budget. Following these steps is sure to soften that blow. The "found money" then can be channeled into projects that focus on more strategic capabilities and business initiatives.
For more pragmatic insight and ready-to-use tips, check out a recent paper authored by Gartner analysts Andrew Lerner and Sanjit Ganguli.
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Gartner, How to Avoid the Biggest Rip-Off in Networking, Andrew Lerner & Sanjit Ganguli, 03 August 2017. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.