Your network isn’t just important to you – it’s the lifeline of your business. That’s why it is crucial to be in control of its future. But unfortunately, manufacturers of hardware are increasingly trying to control the way companies buy, support and maintain their networks. However, there are ways you can spot these schemes and avoid them. Here’s a look at some of the scare tactics many manufacturers are using to put their sales agenda before your business needs.

Short Hardware Life Cycles

More frequently, manufacturers are shortening the lifecycle of products and declaring the end of life on products to drive revenue. Talk to any manufacturer rep and they will be promoting the latest and greatest product, trying to convince you how this year’s model will be faster, better (and more expensive) than the one you purchased last time. But the faster the manufacturers push out the latest and greatest products, the more you have to pay.

Budget-challenged network managers and cost-conscious CIOs are pushing back on manufacturers. They are no longer willing to write a blank check for continual forklift upgrades and expensive “migration paths” for the sake of bleeding-edge technology. Companies looking to stretch their IT dollars are keeping equipment longer and turning to pre-owned and refurbished vendors to help support products past the manufacturers’ end of life date. Don’t let the manufacturer scare you into thinking that once a product is end of life you must upgrade. The focus should be on your business needs, not the manufacturer’s product cycle. If a product meets your business needs, you should upgrade at your own pace.

Limited Options for Partners

Not only are manufacturers trying to force you into buying their latest and greatest, but they are also trying to tell you who you have to buy them from. Most manufacturers have “preferred” partner programs and “deal registrations” in place in an effort to keep the price of their product high and limit the competition between partners (that would result in a better price for the customer). Oftentimes, many of these programs are designed to limit the customer’s options and incent partners to push certain, more expensive products – regardless of the customer’s underlying business need.

A way around this approach: Think independent! Independent resellers are not bound by manufacturer edicts and pricing constraints. They can offer solutions and alternatives based on your business needs, not the manufacturer’s desire to push products. Generally, they can offer better lead times and even trade-in programs for your old equipment. Most customers feel it is beneficial to have a mix of both partners and independent resellers to realize the best support, cost, and availability.

“Have-to-Have” Expensive Maintenance Programs

So you have the very expensive hardware that is, in many cases, overkill for the network requirements of your business. Now the manufacturers tell you that you HAVE to have their approved maintenance plans in order to receive replacement products and any updated features that you may require to make your hardware work the way it was intended. This is a scare tactic to get you to buy their maintenance program and it is untrue.

Increasingly, many forward-thinking companies are rejecting the “one size fits all” forced maintenance programs offered by manufacturers. Many are freeing themselves from these expensive maintenance plans by self-maintaining their networks with onsite spares or exploring third-party maintenance options. This helps companies lower costs and get a comprehensive solution that is both easier to manage and provides a better customer service experience.

Bottom Line

It’s your network. It’s your right to make the decisions that will affect how you maintain your network. It is not the manufacturer’s place to try to dictate what hardware you use, where to buy it or how to maintain it. This year has been scary enough.. Don’t let the manufacturer scare you too!

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