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Rethink Your IT Hardware Maintenance & Support Strategy

What is your current hardware procurement strategy? Are you simply doing things the way they’ve always been done? What if you looked at your IT environment through a different lens—one that focuses more on what best suits your business and budget? What kind of company could you help build if you operated with a growth mindset when it came to your hardware and maintenance strategy rather than one fixed by a manufacturer?

This thought exercise is one that should apply to every step and stage of deploying, managing and maintaining IT assets—from upgrading components, extending the useful life of existing gear, introducing third-party maintenance and rethinking vendor selection criteria. The only way for your company to grow is to allow for a strategy that encourages constant development and refinement, rather than static fixed methodologies. After all, as Google says, “Great isn’t just good enough.” Building a successful company is about continuing to look for ways to grow and improve on what you are already doing.

This mindset also extends to equipment procurement—especially servers, switches and routers—as not all IT gear is the same. Therefore, not all equipment should be treated the same. Large savings can be found by turning to the secondary market for pre-owned hardware. While it may be “old” by manufacturers’ standards, most of these products have a useful life of a decade or more—if cared for properly—and even most manufacturers begrudgingly admit that. In fact, rethinking labels like “old” allows a company to rethink their procurement strategy all together. Rather than a road block, older equipment can be developed into a hardware procurement strategy that fosters more opportunities for savings and growth.

Want to know how? For starters, current and new servers, as well as certified previous-generation equipment from all major manufacturers, are readily available on the secondary market. So are switches, routers, VoIP, adapters and NICs. Depending on the age and complexity of the equipment, analysts reports savings from 50% to 70% off the discounted price of new hardware.

Pre-owned gear often comes fully configured, pre-assembled and customized, which streamlines deployment significantly. Leading secondary market companies also deliver anywhere in the world—in most cases, by next business day. Try getting delivery like that from any manufacturer.

For organizations new to this strategy, it’s important to do your homework. Secondary market leaders have invested heavily in their own test facilities to ensure all gear is port- and load-tested. Certified engineers put all equipment through rigorous paces to ensure efficiency and reliability that matches—and in many cases, exceeds—manufacturers’ standards.

For a prime example of what this kind of investment looks like, we encourage you to take a virtual tour of our own North American Distribution Center (or ask about our worldwide capabilities and where else we stage our inventory for global delivery and service). It includes over $200 million in inventory available for same-day testing, packing and shipping. It also includes Spirent® line-rate testing center supported by expert, Cisco-certified engineers, backed by TL 9000 and ISO 9001:2008 certifications. Curvature delivers fully tested and configured equipment deployable out-of-the-box and at a verified 0.5% failure rate, well below manufacturers’ standards on new equipment.

How to Engage with the Secondary Market

Whether you are shopping for Cisco UCS or complex servers like the IBM pSeries, informed shoppers make the best decisions, so make sure the provider offers a lifelong guarantee on authenticity and, if applicable, includes guaranteed availability of required firmware updates. Pay close attention to any purchases that come with bundled software.

When procuring servers or other hardware on the secondary market, make sure to understand your workloads and figure out your capacity and functionality needs. You may not need the power of a “Lamborghini server” if its use is for non-critical applications.

Reputable secondary market providers offer warranties of at least one year on all equipment, overnight replacement guarantees and certified technical support. This is key as many manufacturers charge extra. Leading secondary market sources also understand the importance of certifications. Make sure your provider can prove its worthiness with designations including TL 9000, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001.

Finally, review all the available service and support options from prospective secondary market providers as leaders typically offer various professional services, including installation and deployment guidance.

The Need to Innovate

Today, so many organizations talk about the need to innovate that misconceptions are on the rise. Innovation shouldn’t always translate to the “latest and greatest” and/or busting your budget. There are ways to innovate while staying on budget. Secondary market companies take a much more holistic look at your network, data center and storage environments as a decision in one area can impact the other.

For example, an international supplier of household products found that opting for pre-owned servers saved 20% on future purchases without impacting its 99.8% uptime. The “saved” funds went to higher-quality firewalls, which delivered more functionality while bolstering security levels.

More good news: The secondary market is a two-way street. Do not overlook asset disposition and recovery. Depending on the vendor you partner with, disposing of equipment doesn’t always have to result in an additional cost. TPM’s like Curvature offer IT asset disposition services (ITAD) to safely decommission and dispose of old or unused equipment. Curvature’s ITAD can turn old hardware into ways to pay for new equipment or services. Devices can be securely repurposed, resold, or recycled. Trade in your displaced or unwanted hardware—instead of junking it or stashing it and the result is “found” money.

Avoid New Servers Altogether?

Gartner recommends, “Strategy No. 10: Avoid New Servers Altogether by Optimizing Mode 1 and Mode 2 Operations.1

Analysts suggest that you can avoid new servers altogether by optimizing Mode 1 and Mode 2 operations.2 Using IT information management (ITIM) tools, you can quickly gain insights into component usage and capacity while freeing additional capacity by finding and eliminating any “zombie” servers. As unused or underutilized servers often run unmaintained applications, focus on retiring these assets or moving them to virtualized or containerized hosts.
For Mode 2 environments, shift to application containers to achieve higher utilization rates of your existing infrastructure. Containers eliminate the performance hit associated with virtual machines while enabling higher tenant density on server hosts. Just keep in mind, this approach may require changes to infrastructure and operations strategies.
In the end, it’s all about opinions and options. Everyone has an opinion, so when you’re looking to pursue new procurement methods, take a listen—especially from those not tied to one manufacturer or method. As for options, it should start with not feeling pressured to upgrade anything before you must. End-of-life doesn’t mean end of the world. Instead, it means you have other options that can give you flexibility to put your business first.

Want to learn more? Read the Gartner Paper, 10 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Acquiring Servers


1According to Gartner, “For infrastructure supporting Mode 1 operations, servers and virtual machines that are deployed but idle represent a significant fraction of the total installed base. Use IT information management (ITIM) tools to monitor component usage and capacity, and free up capacity by hunting down and eliminating these “zombie” servers. Unused or underutilized servers often run unmaintained applications, which can be retired or shifted to virtualized or containerized hosting.” Gartner, 10 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Acquiring Servers, Daniel Bowers, 27 October 2017.

2According to Gartner, “The secondary market, also called the “used-hardware market,” can offer significant savings on server hardware. Secondary market resellers offer both refurbished and “new in box” products. Such hardware is best for use with noncritical and disaster recovery use cases, especially when hardware is particularly expensive, or you are purchasing models or configurations similar to ones you already own. Depending on the age and complexity of the equipment, savings can be 50% to 70% off the discounted price of new hardware.” Gartner, 10 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Acquiring Servers, Daniel Bowers, 27 October 2017.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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