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  • The Guide to Buying Used Networking Equipment

    The Guide to Buying Used Networking EquipmentBuying new networking hardware like routers, switches, and firewalls is an expensive investment. As 2015 budgets roll down you might find that buying new network hardware to stock your planned network upgrade is a pretty bleak prospect if you anticipated budget has been reduced. The good news is that upgrading your network hardware doesn’t have to wipe out your IT budget. By purchasing quality used network equipment that has been subjected to a rigorous refurbishment process, you can save considerable amounts of money over buying new gear and without sacrificing the performance and reliability that your company requires.

    Unfortunately, many networking professionals are unfamiliar with how to buy refurbished networking gear, which results in lots of unanswered questions and an increased chance for error. To help you through the process of buying refurbished networking equipment, we are going to review three critical steps that you should address before making a purchase.

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  • Dealing with IT Budget Cuts

    Dealing with IT Budget CutsYou submitted your 2015 IT budget to management and it came back with a stamp of approval—you’re all set, right? Not necessarily. All budgets are up for negotiation, even those that originally came back as approved, which means you could be cruising along mid-way through the year and discover that your budget has been reduced drastically. I sincerely hope that never happens to you. If anything, I hope the powers that be shower you with money, but realistically it’s safe to assume that at some point you will be faced with a budget reduction. The key to navigating these rocky waters is to think about how you would handle a budget cut before it happens so that you aren’t left in the lurch mid-project.

    Evaluate the severity of the budget cut. Not all budget cuts are created equal. Sometimes you might be asked to cut all non-essential costs which basically means that you get to decide what you can part with and which functions are “essential.” Or you might be asked to reduce your total budget by 5% or 10%—a relatively small reduction in the grand scheme. If you are asked to cut your budget by 40%, you can expect a greater impact to your overall effectiveness and a reduction in the IT initiatives you will be able to implement.

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  • Change and the Reality of Server Upkeep

    Change and the Reality of Server Upkeep“The only constant in life is change.”

    An ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, is often attributed as making the famous quote above. Others say that Francois de la Rochefoucauld, a French classical author from 17th century France, made the astute observation. No matter who actually said it, the sentiment is still as true today as it was in the Greece or France of long ago.

    In a world that is constantly changing, the only thing that you can truly count on with any accuracy is that sooner or later things will change. The idea covers your checkbook balance, who your friends are, and the status of your server infrastructure. Feeling flush after a paycheck? Bills will come due and your checking account balance will quickly change. Feeling like you don’t have any friends in a new town? Give it some time and you’ll have a whole host of new friends soon. Are your servers humming along fine? Sooner or later, one will crash and demand repair.

    As you look forward into 2015, what types of changes should you expect to experience? Today we will look at the changes that most IT professionals will experience this year and how you can be prepared to adapt.

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  • Transitioning to Used Server Equipment

    Transitioning to Used Server EquipmentFor many organizations, making the transition from using new server equipment exclusively to using quality refurbished servers is a no-brainer that quickly and easily nets significant cost savings. The benefits outweigh the costs of staying with buying new, and so you meet with your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sales representative and share your decision. The challenge lies in delivering the “bad news” to the rep and getting through the subsequent conversation without questioning

    If you’ve ever told someone something that you knew they didn’t want to hear before, you probably weren’t surprised by the OEM rep’s response to your announcement. Or maybe you were completely surprised by the response you received because this person has always been cordial enough with you before—this response was totally out of character.

    Whatever your expectations of the conversation were when you sat down to chat, I would bet my paycheck that what you heard in return can be boiled down to two very fundamental emotional tactics that humans use when backed into a corner by your decision: fear and guilt. (And if you boil it down further, nine times out of ten, fear is driving the guilt trip, but that’s another discussion.) More than likely, your conversation went something like this:

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  • Used Server Hardware: You Get What You Pay For

    Used Server Hardware You Get What You Pay ForA few years ago I was hanging out socially with a group of grade school teachers, one of whom taught kindergarten. For ease of storytelling, I will call this teacher Liz.

    Liz had a reputation for being no-nonsense and had little patience for unwarranted whining and complaining. Pity the child who had a melt down because she suddenly wanted the cookie with the pink frosting after she was handed the yellow frosted cookie instead she originally selected—Liz was having none of it. This kindergartener would quickly be reminded that she should be grateful to get a cookie in the first place and “We get what we get and we don’t have a fit.”

    Similarly, when it came time to choose a grab bag prize from the prize box, Liz would calmly remind a student that he shouldn’t shout that he wanted the dinosaur that his neighbor chose instead of the toy car he received. He should be happy with the prize that came out of the little brown lunch bag that he selected. Of course, the student couldn’t see into the brown paper bag he selected when he chose it, but Liz knew that all of the prizes were of equal value and that, ultimately, learning to make a choice and live with the “consequences”—good or bad—would serve her kids well in other classroom situations as well as in life.

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  • Network Hardware Maintenance and the Art of Waiting

    Network Hardware Maintenance and the Art of WaitingAsk anyone that knows me and they are likely to tell you that I’m not a particularly patient person when it comes to getting things accomplished. Once I’ve decided to undertake a project, I want to jump in and get it done. And when I have an important project deadline looming on the horizon, the last thing I want to do is run into unforeseen delays.

    For example, when writing a paper in college long before the advent of Internet and all-knowing Google, I searched the library for resources and reference books to support my thesis. Inadvertently, I would find the perfect resource and invariably it would be checked out to someone else or would need to be transferred from another facility. Both of these scenarios required waiting—ideally, in a patient fashion. This sort of a stall out was incredibly frustrating to me. I mean, I was prepared to write the paper now, not three days or two weeks from now.

    Likewise, a year ago I bought a house. During the process of shopping for a new place to live, I saw 60 houses before I found the one I ended up buying. Once I saw “my house” I was eager to get the show on the road and buy it. Unfortunately, buying a house is never a simple, linear transaction and there are lots of delays and waiting involved. I found myself waiting (not so) patiently for others in the process to do their part and move things along.

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  • Buy Used Servers: What You Need to Know

    Buy Used Servers What You Need to KnowThinking ahead to ways that you can cut your IT hardware costs in 2015? Good plan. In today’s economic climate, it’s critical that most companies do more with their budget dollars and this includes the IT department. One way to quickly trim excess costs from your IT budget is to buy used servers rather than forking over big money for brand new equipment. Once considered taboo based on original equipment manufacturer (OEM) horror stories, buying used servers is a legitimate IT strategy that is utilized by companies of all sizes, including Fortune 500 organizations and small startups.

    Used or pre-owned servers are cheaper than new servers. This may seem a bit obvious to some, but it warrants repeating. Pre-owned servers cost less than new servers while still getting you through to your end game. This is the number one reason to consider buying used gear—you want to save money without opting out of buying entirely. It’s important to keep in mind that buying a less expensive product does not necessarily mean that you are buying an inferior product.

    Pre-owned servers can perform just as well as new servers—for significantly less money—and often do. Remember the horror stories I mentioned to above that you’ve probably heard from your OEM sales representative? Forget about the boogie man they tried to sell you and remember that it doesn’t benefit the OEM at all if you decide to buy used gear. With that in mind, recognize that they are going to try to hit you where it hurts: by planting seeds of fear around server performance and reliability issues. By choosing quality equipment from a reputable reseller, you can secure the performance and reliability you need at a price you can afford.

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  • Cisco Hardware Maintenance Alternative

    Cisco Hardware Maintenance AlternativeWishing you had a more cost-effective alternative to Cisco SMARTnet® maintenance? I don’t blame you. No one wants to go without it but most network professionals cringe when they evaluate how much of their budget goes to maintain their SMARTnet maintenance contract. What you might not know is that third party maintenance (TPM) coverage can supplement or replace your Cisco SMARTnet coverage at a fraction of the cost—and without having to sacrifice network performance and reliability.

    Unsure of whether TPM will work for your organization? That’s a normal reaction I think, if you haven’t used a TPM provider in the past. Most people are hesitant to embrace what they don’t know or understand which means it’s essential that you fully explore the option of using a TPM before making any decisions otherwise.

    Third party network maintenance offers considerable savings versus original equipment manufacturer (OEM) maintenance plans. The number one reason that a company would entertain the idea of using a third party maintenance company is because of the significant savings TPM offers over original equipment manufacturer (OEM) plans. Third party network maintenance offers all of the same features and coverage benefits as OEM maintenance, but at a significant discount. This means you get all of the performance and reliability you require at about half the cost (or less) of buying OEM coverage. In today’s economy, most networking professionals are under pressure to do more with a smaller budget and third party maintenance gives them a painless way to do it.

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  • Used Server Buyer’s Guide

    Used Server Buyers GuideBuying new servers is expensive—there’s no secret there. And if you know that you need to cut your IT hardware costs in 2015, the outlook for upgrading your servers can look pretty bleak. The good news is that upgrading your servers doesn’t have to wipe out your IT budget. By purchasing quality used servers that have been subjected to a rigorous refurbishment process, you can save considerable amounts of money over buying new gear and without sacrificing the performance and reliability that your company needs.

    Unfortunately, the experience of buying refurbished servers is new to most IT professionals, leaving lots of questions unanswered and increased room for error. To help you through the process of buying refurbished servers, I’ve put together a list of best practices—or a used server buyer’s guide, if you will—to make the process easier for you.

    Step #1: Choose the right partner. You can buy pre-owned servers almost anywhere these days, but that doesn’t mean you should. The key to success with pre-owned server hardware is to choose the right partner. To identify the best partner for refurbished server hardware, ask the following questions:

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  • Network Hardware Maintenance or Spare and Repair?

    Network Hardware Maintenance or Spare and RepairIt’s Thursday morning and you’ve just settled into your desk with a hot cup of coffee. You’re about to get started on a pressing project when a coworker sticks his head into your office to tell you that one of your switches has failed. All of a sudden you find yourself squarely in the middle of a crisis. You have to get the network back up and running as quickly as possible. What do you do?

    Getting your network back online will depend on a number of factors: the size of your organization and your network, whether you have a maintenance program in force for your network, and whether you have a spare switch available on hand. For most organizations there are two main ways to handle a network failure. The first is to contract with a network maintenance company to manage your network hardware and handle failures for you. The second option is to have spare components on hand to swap out whenever a part of your network fails and then to have the failed component repaired. Below I look at the pros and cons of both methods to help you choose the best possible solution for your company:

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