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  • IT Hardware Maintenance: 3 Posts You Might Have Missed

    IT Hardware Maintenance 3 Posts You Might Have MissedIT hardware maintenance--no one wants to pay for it, but no IT professional wants to go without it either. Considered to be an expensive, but necessary evil, IT hardware maintenance plans chew up a substantial portion of an IT department's budget each year. Chances are good that you're looking for a way to streamline your maintenance costs without sacrificing the peace of mind that comes from having quality coverage for your servers, storage and networking equipment. But the question is how?

    If you're paying your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for server, storage, or networking equipment coverage, you're paying too much. Truly. Don't believe me? It's true. The reality is that OEM maintenance coverage is a bit of a racket, especially if you are upgrading your hardware every three years on the OEM's suggested upgrade cycle. Check out the article, Choosing Third Party Maintenance, for insights on why you should consider a third party maintenance program.

    Wondering how to make the transition from your OEM maintenance plan to a less expensive full coverage third party plan? Making the switch is well worth the effort. Not sure how to get started? Check out the article, Making the Move to Third IT Hardware Party Maintenance. It will get you started on the right foot.

    Still brushing up on the specifics of IT hardware maintenance? You're in luck! What You Need to Know About IT Hardware Maintenance details some interesting insider tips that you might not know about OEM maintenance and your options to choose another form of coverage.

    Questions? Call 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.

  • How to Sell Used Cisco Equipment

    How to Sell Used Cisco EquipmentDid you realize that there's a market for your used Cisco equipment? It's true. Today's enterprise organization is looking for ways to stretch its IT budget and a powerful way to do this is by buying and implementing used networking equipment rather than buying new. If you have used Cisco networking equipment to get rid of, that means you could be sitting on a pile of money you didn't even know about.

    What is the value of your used Cisco gear? Thie first step to selling your used Cisco equipment is to get a realistic idea of its current market value. Keep in mind that newer used gear will bring a higher asking price, but even legacy equipment can be sold at a decent price, provided that the gear is in working condition.

    If you're wondering how to go about getting an accurate idea of what your used Cisco equipment is worth, you're in luck! Here are the three steps you will need to complete before you consider selling your gear:

    • Create a detailed inventory of all the Cisco equipment you wish to sell.
    • Do some research online to find out what each piece you want to sell is currently going for.
    • Get at least two or three quotes on your gear from reputable rsellers to get a sense of the going rate on each piece of equipment.
    How do I choose a Cisco equipment reseller partner? Choosing the right equipment reseller can directly affect your experience with selling your used gear. Choose the wrong organization and you could find yourself getting the runaround when it comes to getting a bid for your gear or in securing payment. On the flip side, choosing a reliable reseller can make the selling and payment process a breeze. Here's what I recommend you do for each potential reseller partner that you are considering.
    • Ask questions. The only way to get information on an organization's hardware recycling practices and it's handling of sensitive data is by asking. If you get any resistance to answering your questions or get a noncommittal answer, take your business elsewhere.
    • Ask for references. Any reputable organization should be able to provide you with references that you can call for input. Moreover, any credible organization should be willing to provide references. Beware any organization that gives you the run around about asking for references.
    • Shipping. Find out how your potential reseller partner handles the shipment of your used Cisco equipment. Will your organization be required to transport the used gear to the reseller's location? If so, do you have the packaging and facilities to handle such a requirement? Or will the reseller send a truck to pick up your equipment and do they have packaging materials that they will bring to your location to pack up and ship the gear safely? Do you need to ship your gear using a specific freight carrier or shipping method? Knowing these details at the outset will help you compare potential reseller partners side-by-side.
    • What if some of your gear is bad? Once you ship your gear to your reseller partner, they will conduct an initial audit of each piece of equipment to ensure it's good before they cut you a check. What happens they determine that some or all of your used Cisco networking equipment is bad? Find out how the company identifies "bad" units, what testing procedures are completed on those units and how you will be notified. Will the reseller attempt to fix broken equipment for a small fee? Do you need to pay for disposal of the defunct units? How does the reseller dispose of bad gear?

    Questions? Call 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.

  • How to Choose a Used Network Equipment Reseller

    How to Choose a Used Network Equipment ResellerChoosing the right--or wrong--used network equipment reseller can make a big difference in the success of your used hardware initiative. Choosing incorrectly often results in an a situation where you swear off buying used gear for the rest of your career. When purchased from a reputable reseller, used networking hardware can be as easy to use as new gear while saving a considerable amount of your organization's IT budget. Based on this alone, you can see that choosing the right reseller partner is critical.

    So, how do you sift through the many resellers in the market place and choose one that will provide high quality product for your organization? So glad that you asked! Here's a list of guidelines to consider as you start your search:

    Question: Are they selling used networking equipment or refurbished networking equipment? This one is a biggie, so make sure you ask. Once you start looking at network hardware resellers, you're going to be offered a lot of second-hand gear in a variety of conditions. Some will simply be called "used" while others will be called "refurbished" or "certified used." The main difference between these conditions is this: while all used, refurbished and certified used networking equipment has been owned by someone else, only refurbished gear has been reset to meet the original factory settings and specifications. (Certified used gear might also have been reset to the original factory settings too, particularly if it is certified used by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). If it's "certified used" by a third party reseller, be sure that they have the ability to certify that particular manufacturer's equipment. If not, "certified used" is just another fancy way of saying refurbished.) Need more detail on the differences in condition? Check out this blog: 7 Differences Between Used and Refurbished IT Equipment.

    Question: What's the reseller's reputation in the market place? Asking around amongst your colleagues and doing some online research can get you "the inside scoop" on how a reseller treats its customers, on the quality of its products, and on how the company handles issues with its products and services, should they arise. By checking these sources, you are likely to get an idea of what the organization would be like to work with. Keep in mind that you are likely to hear both positive and negative feedback, but the goal is to watch for trends that you should be aware of as you make your decision.

    Question: What is the reseller's guarantee on refurbished products? Warranties and other performance guarantees vary from reseller to reseller, so be sure to ask for the details from any reseller you are considering purchasing from. Refuse to purchase refurbished networking gear that does not come with some sort of warranty or performance guarantee. Quality resellers will stand behind their work with a warranty so that you are covered in case you need it.

    Question: What is the reseller's stock availability? It might not seem like a big deal at first blush, but knowing that your reseller partner has networking equipment in their inventory can ensure that you get the product you need as quickly as possible. Aside from how quickly a company can get you the products you need, resellers that do not keep networking equipment on hand are sourcing from larger companies that do which means another round of markups and higher prices. Cut out the middle man and deal directly with the company that stocks the products to ensure that you get the best possible prices AND order fulfillment times.

    Question: Are custom configurations part of the sale price? Depending on what you are ordering, you might require that a refurbished system be configured to meet your networks current settings. Knowing whether those custom configurations are part of the product sale price is essential if you want to keep your budget in line.

    Choosing the right used network equipment reseller doesn't have to be difficult--it simply requires that you ask the right questions before you make your selection. By asking questions early on in the process, you are more likely to partner with the organization that will best meet your needs.

    Questions? Call 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.

  • Choosing Third Party Maintenance

    Choosing Third Party MaintenanceWhat's the number one difference between a maintenance plan offered by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and one offered by a third party maintenance (TPM) company? Not sure? I will give you a hint: It’s flat and it’s green and you keep it in your wallet.

    Yes—money. The biggest difference between OEM and third party maintenance programs is the cost. Most maintenance plans for servers and networking equipment offered by TPM companies will look and feel exactly like an OEM plan. In fact, OEMs often use TPM companies to fulfill their IT hardware service contracts only they charge you much higher rates than the TPM company would if you did business with them directly. Clearly third party maintenance is an excellent cost-saving option for today’s enterprise organization.

    Are you wondering how to go about choosing a third party maintenance company? Questions you should ask potential TPM partners include:

    • Are your technicians OEM certified? Reputable TPM companies utilize technicians that are OEM certified on the equipment they service. Don’t assume that your TPM uses certified technicians—ask.
    • What types of coverage do you offer? Most TPM companies offer maintenance programs that mirror what the OEM is offering. Some will offer completely customized solutions as well—so if you don’t see a program that will meet your organization’s needs, be sure to ask if they can customize a program for you. Even some refurbished IT hardware can be covered by OEM and third party plans.
    • What’s included in my maintenance plan? Clarify the specifics of each plan you are considering and what services might cost extra. If a server fails, will it be replaced with the same equipment—or better? Will the replacement parts be new or refurbished?
    • What’s not included in my maintenance plan? Can the TPM company cover all of your technological equipment under one plan? (For example, including your printers with your servers and networking equipment?) Is anything specifically excluded from the plan? If so, what—and why?
    • Who will be my point of contact? Will your organization have a dedicated point of contact for maintenance claims? Are you funneled to the next available agent in a massive call center? Who will answer the phone if your network fails in the middle of the night on a weekend?
    • What number do I call? And is there more than one? An often overlooked detail during the buying process, knowing how many phone numbers you will need to wrangle when your network is down is an important consideration. Ideally, you should be able to call one dedicated number regardless of the type of equipment that failed and get the service you need.
    • How do I file a service claim? What do you need to do in the event that you need to file a claim? Is there an online website where you have forms to complete? Paper forms that need to be submitted? Or will a phone call to the claims center suffice? Knowing what hoops you need to jump through to file a service claim before the server crashes will ensure that you get your system back online sooner rather than later.
    • What does the coverage cost? Is your network covered with your monthly payment or annual contract? Or are there additional fees for particular services such as rush requests and sparing services? If some services are available via ala carte pricing, be sure to get a copy of the pricing list before you sign an agreement so that you can consider total maintenance cost against any other full-coverage programs.
    • Is there a satisfaction guarantee? Does the TPM company stand behind its work and guarantee customer satisfaction? How do you report a concern with service or product quality? How are those concerns handled—and how quickly? Does the company have customer testimonials on its website or references you can talk to?

    Third party maintenance is a fantastic way for your organization to fully leverage your IT budget and save money. Most organizations save at least 50% and sometimes up to 80% over OEM maintenance pricing. With that in mind, third party maintenance is a no-brainer, but knowing who you are doing business with and the services they will provide is essential. Do your research. Ask lots of questions. You could be on your way to serious savings.

    Questions? Call World Data Products at 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.

  • Choosing a Refurbished IT Hardware Reseller

    Choosing a Refurbished IT Hardware ResellerOnce you've decided to purchase refurbished servers, storage or networking equipment rather than buying new, it’s essential that you select the right refurbished hardware reseller to be your vendor partner.

    Who you select as your source for refurbished hardware will directly impact your experience with using refurbished gear and you don’t want the substantial benefits of buying refurbished to sour based solely on the supplier. So, it’s important to do your homework and know who you’re buying from.

    Wondering what questions to ask? No problem—we’ve got you covered. To successfully select a refurbished IT hardware reseller, you need to consider their:

    • Experience and reputation in the marketplace.
    • Technical staff and their qualifications and certifications.
    • Commitment to product quality.

    Experience and reputation. When it comes to buying refurbished IT hardware, who you choose to do business with is just as important as the kind of hardware you buy—sometimes even more important. You see, the equipment brand and model you buy will likely be the same regardless of where you buy it—for example, if you’re in the market for Cisco networking equipment that’s what you’ll buy from whichever vendor you decide on. However, the quality of that Cisco networking equipment could vary wildly depending on where you purchase it. Likewise, the warranty and commitment to quality could vary depending on which reseller you choose. With this in mind, it’s critical that you understand who you are doing business with. What is the company’s experience with your brand of refurbished hardware? How long have they been in business? What is there reputation in the marketplace?

    Technical staff and qualifications. Ever wondered who might have worked on the refurbished hardware you intend on buying? If not, you should. To ensure you receive a quality refurbished product, ask potential reseller partners about their technical staff and their qualifications. Are they graduates from a technical or vocational school? Are they certified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)? How long have they worked for the reseller? And then there’s the question of the reseller’s sales staff. How long have they been with the company? Have they worked with your preferred product line before? Are they focused on your organization’s needs and how they can help meet them, or are they simply interested in closing a deal? Can they make recommendations on other solutions that will meet your requirements but offer you additional benefits (e.g. lower cost, better features, etc.)? Do they hold any certifications or industry-related awards Most importantly, do you trust them?

    Commitment to product quality. This is where the rubber meets the road. It doesn’t matter how experienced a company is or how many certifications their technical staff holds, if the organization doesn’t have a clear commitment to product quality—and ultimately, to your satisfaction—you’re going to have a tough time making a successful go of buying and implementing refurbished IT hardware. Does the company you are considering have a published quality statement? Do they stand behind the products they sell? And in the event of an issue with the gear you buy from them, who do you need to call to get the situation straightened out? If a potential reseller partner does not have a clear commitment to product quality and customer satisfaction, look elsewhere.

    Buying refurbished IT hardware is a great way to maximize your department’s IT hardware budget and choosing a reseller partner doesn’t have to be a challenge. By asking the right questions when selecting a partner, you can easily identify the best reseller partner for your organization.

    Questions? Call 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free consultation.

  • What You Need to Know About IT Hardware Maintenance

    What You Need to Know About IT Hardware MaintenanceIT hardware maintenance is an important aspect of keeping the data center running smoothly. The good news is that there are ways to make your maintenance program more affordable without sacrificing the coverage, reliability and quality your network or servers.

    Here are 6 things that you need to know in order to make an informed decision about your IT hardware maintenance program:

    OEM-managed maintenance is a monopoly controlled by the manufacturer. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) want you to believe that they are the only ones who can service your servers, storage or networking equipment. Leveraging their brand name, manufacturers imply—or sometimes state outright—that third party providers don’t have the knowledge to successfully service your network. This is not true. Why would manufacturers care who services your network as long as you buy your equipment from them? Quite simply, hardware maintenance is big business for the OEM. Physical hardware is becoming more and more of a commodity all the time, while maintenance continues to be the cash cow manufacturers depend on.

    Your servers, switches and routers are more reliable than they used to be. When the hardware maintenance business model was created, components in the data center were considered more vulnerable to failure. With advances in modular construction and general reliability, component replacement is far simpler than it was ten years ago.

    A significant amount of OEM maintenance is actually performed by contracted third party maintainers (TPM). So, here’s one that will leave you scratching your head: while OEMs want you to dismiss third party maintenance contracts on the basis that third party maintenance firms don’t have the knowledge or skills to maintain their hardware, these same OEMs are contracting with these third party maintainers to conduct the OEM maintenance without having to expand their in-house maintenance teams. So, the third party maintenance companies are good enough to do the work for the (expensive) OEM maintenance program, but not good enough to do the work under their own (cheaper) maintenance agreements? Hmmmm. Sounds fishy to me.

    Maintenance programs allow the OEM to maintain control over their share of the market. No one likes to see a lower priced competitor enter their market and steal market share. And no one can blame an OEM for leveraging their maintenance relationships to ensure their advantage with their customers. Unfortunately, IT hardware maintenance programs are a way for manufacturers to limit the introduction of refurbished equipment, keep track of future equipment acquisitions, and keep customers on a three year upgrade schedule.

    OEM hardware maintenance can result in premature hardware obsolescence. IT hardware manufacturers are in the business of creating new products and then selling them to their customers. With new products coming out all the time, OEMs declare existing product lines to be “end of life” every two to three years and reduce or eliminate support of those products. This can leave you forced to upgrade before you are ready to and while your organization’s existing hardware is still useful in order to avoid losing maintenance coverage.

    OEM hardware maintenance is not the only choice. One of the greatest kept secrets of IT hardware maintenance is that an OEM maintenance program is not your only option. Maintenance programs offered by reputable third party resellers and maintainers are just as effective as the OEM programs, only at a fraction of the price. Investigating third party maintenance programs as an option for your organization can save you considerable amounts of money.

    You don't have to choose between using your IT budget for hardware maintenance and fulfilling other strategic IT initiatives. There are easy ways to make your maintenance program more affordable without sacrificing the coverage, reliability and quality your department requires.

    Questions? Call 888-210-7636 or contact one of our IT Hardware Specialists today for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding IT hardware maintenance or our other services.

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