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Thinking Outside the OEM: Tips for Extending the Life of Your Network

If your network is like most, it is multi-generational, containing a mix of bleeding-edge equipment and some current- and previous-generation. Some of your network may have even reached what Cisco refers to an End of Life state, even though it’s working fine in your network.

While you think you only have two options—to either upgrade as per the OEM’s directive or risk having no support—there are cost-effective options beyond these. We’ve put together tips to show you how you can extend the life of your network while saving money.

1. Be ahead of the EoS Game
Here comes the EoS Announcement for your bread and butter switches from the OEM. The best way to keep your bases covered in this scenario? Stay up-to-date with what’s coming.

An EoS announcement could be alarming if you don’t know your support and upgrading options—after all, maintaining your company’s network uptime is on your shoulders. With that said, don’t garner publicity with downtime. Let us help you stay ahead of the curve by end-of-support dates, updated as frequently as the announcements come. Is your equipment reaching its end-of-support date?

2. Don’t upgrade if you don’t have to.
Your equipment is approaching end of support. Upgrading would mean a significant investment, plus hours learning and training your team on new functionalities. Do you really have to go through the pain of upgrading?

The truth is that manufacturers often announce end-of-support long before equipment upgrade or replacement is necessary. Forrester Consulting has reiterated this point, saying that “network equipment has considerably longer useful life, often longer than the OEM is willing to support the product” in a study conducted on behalf of Curvature. You do have options beyond upgrading. Learn more here about alternatives to upgrading..

3. Leverage a maintenance alternative and extend the life of your equipment.
If Cisco issues software updates, many of them would be publicly available at no cost off Cisco’s website and often wouldn’t require SMARTnet. If Cisco doesn’t issue software updates, then you likely won’t need a SMARTnet contract anyway.

Much of the market tied to SMARTnet contracts still believe that it’s required to get software updates and bug patches, so they renew their SMARTnet contracts each year and end up paying a premium on network maintenance. Forrester Consulting backs this up in a recent study of your peers: “Maintenance agreements with OEMs are costly and do not always provide maintenance and upgrades for the hardware that customers are running. [..] Customers pay a lot of money for service they never use.”

It is only rational to leverage third-party maintenance services that are perfect for equipment where IOS updates are publically available or are no longer in development. A few examples include the Cisco Catalyst 4500, 4500E, 3850, 3750, 3750 v2, 3750-E, 3750-X, 3560, 3560 v2, 3560-C, 3560-E, 3560-X, 2960, 2960-C, and 2960-S Series Switches. For typical networks, about 70% of equipment will fall into this category where third-party maintenance is a great fit. Learn more.

4. Turn used networking equipment into cash.
Customers with leased or aging hardware have the most to gain from a program that allows you to trade in equipment for cash. The pieces of equipment that are sold will create a revenue stream that otherwise would be a recycling cost. Why not monetize hardware that is of little use to you? An added benefit: You’re doing Mother Nature a favor by doing your part in reducing e-waste. Learn more.


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