In my last blog post I talked about what to do if your equipment has failed in the field. Once you have identified that the equipment is defective here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when repairing your equipment.
DO consider replacements. Before getting your equipment repaired you should check with your supplier to see if there are replacements of the same card available. If they are available, then run a quick cost-analysis to see how your warranty, lead-time and shipping costs factor into your decision.
DO get competitive quotes. Not all repair centers can repair everything, but if they say that they can then you should consider getting a quote to compare with theirs. Most companies specialize in a few particular platforms, and though they might do those well… chances are they repair other platforms at higher costs.
DO check the serial numbers on your cards. There is no doubt your company has some sort of program in place to track when and where your equipment was originally purchased. Surprisingly there are many times when equipment can be replaced with a warranty versus having to resort to repair.
DON’T pay for “no trouble found”. I’ve learned that there a lot of repair centers that will charge you for “handling” or “inspecting” a card. This $100 fee can add up quickly on non-repairable cards. There are plenty of repair vendors out there that do not charge anything to find a card non-repairable. Using these types of repair centers can lead to big savings.
DON’T pay shipping both ways on your repairable cards. I have found a lot of success working with customers by picking up the shipping costs one way. Shipping can certainly add up when you factor in the amount of cards you ship out, especially when you’re paying for those that are found to be un-repairable. Cutting down on the price of shipping is an easy way to keep the total costs of repair to a minimum.
DON’T assume everything needs to be repaired. Exhaust your replacement options first. Look to see if the manufacturer has an upgrade option on a particular card. Check to see if the card you’re looking for is available in another colocation within your company. This could save you time and money.
These are just a few tips that can make the repair process less painful and hopefully less expensive as well. If you know of other ideas, or if you’ve had a success story, please share it with us!
Once you open up the box and put it on the shelf, how do you know whom you bought it from?
How many of you either purchased some refurbished or new open box equipment from a vendor 6 months ago and cannot remember whom you bought it from? Sound familiar? What about if you’re the technician that is out in the field and all you care about is getting a working unit so you can continue with your day? Do you have a system in place that tracks each individual part from start to finish? How do you differentiate one vendor’s equipment from another?
These questions are among the most common asked of LEC’s, CLEC’s, and ISP’s about their procurement of equipment outside the OEM. Just about every company these days sources from outside the OEM to some extent. Pricing, availability, and quality are the biggest concerns. One thing, however, that I’ve found in my 10 years of reselling gear is that not all companies have a sound process for tracking their equipment once purchased.
It’s unfair to put the blame on one company over another. Staffing, budget constraints, inventory systems all play a role in the tracking of equipment or lack thereof. Besides, aren’t you buying equipment that is supposed to work the entirety of its lifespan anyway?
Now, I have no doubt that all who read this work with a company that tracks every single piece of equipment, and that most wouldn’t have to concern themselves with where the surplus equipment may have come from in the first place. Perhaps an elaborate Excel spreadsheet recording all of your purchases with serial numbers does the trick. Surely that doesn’t suck up time!
Maybe another way to go about this is to find a vendor or two that have systems in place that do the hard work for you; vendors that can seamlessly transition their process into yours.
Here are some ways we go about doing this here at PICS:
My customers receive an email when equipment has been received and signed for by their warehouse. Most vendors forget about the sale at this point. To me that’s when the real job begins. Every piece of equipment I sell carries a unique serial number that has its own corresponding warranty. Therefore, at times I may have as many as 20 different parts that I will warranty within a particular router or chassis and components. I have a system that individually tracks each item with what’s called a PT Sticker. This barcoded scan able PT sticker represents to the customer:
All of this information is logged for each individual customer, so at a moment’s notice I can provide them with any details they may require. There should be no time wasted on their end!
I know a lot of vendors will track a card and its warranty by the serial number alone. This is effective for tracking the card, but it allows for the fidelity of the warranty to be compromised. It enables vendors to skirt the responsibility of the warranty if the equipment is in unconcerned hands. If a technician in the field comes across a failed card, how do they check if it’s still under warranty? Was it purchased from the OEM or a secondary vendor? The problems that arise with tracking warranties between OEM’s and vendors can be brutal, and can lead to embarrassing moments. Have you or a colleague ever called an OEM to request a replacement on a part you thought was under warranty only to find out that the particular part in question was bought from a secondary market vendor? This happens every day, and it is completely avoidable if equipment is tracked with precision and uniformity.
It is essential in our industry today to have easily accessed warranty information and transparent inventory records. Knowing when, where and from whom a piece of equipment was purchased is vital to keeping a network up and running. This is exactly why we apply our PT stickers to every part we sell. It makes everyone’s job easier.
Hopefully this gives you a different perspective on how to tack equipment that you purchase regardless of the vendor.
If you are someone who deals in any way with the engineering or the procurement of Cisco Routers, you should be familiar with the benefits of maximizing memory on the front-end. How many times have you found yourself consulting the Cisco configuration guide, simply copying and pasting their laid out recommendations, and forwarding that as a request to perspective vendors? If you have done this or still do, you are certainly not alone. However, you should reconsider how you approach your memory prior to purchase.
Cisco is known for selling equipment today that will require an upgrade tomorrow. These regular upgrades are the result of both technological advancements as well as an effective business model. There is a reason why Cisco has $44 Billion in the bank; their capability improves daily, and it costs their customers to stay abreast of those improvements. The life of the router that you’ve already invested in can and usually does need upgrades on memory based on the application you are using it for. This makes sense. Fortunately, it is easy to stay ahead of the game, at least by a step or two.
Purchasing the maximum amount of memory for your router gives you a cushion of time and money to absorb some of Cisco’s upgrades. This is why buying the max is a regular practice of engineers throughout the industry. Josh McDonald, an engineer at Excella Communications, states “you don’t always know the requirements for IOS tomorrow or what Cisco will decide to upgrade next week. If you have the max, then you don’t have to worry. Code does change, and having maxed out memory protects you from that change.” Josh finds it practical and preemptive to purchase the max. It works for him and many other engineers that I work with on a daily basis. Of course practicality is important, but cost is a variable of this practicality. Price is often the initial reason why perhaps many shy away from the max upgrade. It can prove to drive a wedge into the budget strings of CapEx, especially for those companies that buy hundreds of Cisco routers a year or even in a single quarter. It depends on the company and their unique needs to decide exactly how effective the maximum memory approach can be for them.
If you are in procurement, an engineer or a manager that currently uses a Cisco configuration guide to dictate your memory purchases, now would be a good time to reevaluate your methodology. Cisco list price on memory can blow you away. Do your homework and look into other cost-effective methods of buying your memory. If you are buying your routers from someone other than Cisco or one of their authorized resellers, then you should be applying this theory every time. You can have your vendor install the upgraded and maxed-out memory right at their location before it ships. In most cases you can expect to see 70-95% off list price when buying Cisco approved or 3rd party memory. Otherwise, ask your engineers to take a hard look at the memory you have in place now. Perhaps adding maximum memory to your current routers could be a quick and easy fix for avoiding the hassles of tomorrow’s upgrades. It could also save you some calls into TAC support through Cisco. Either way, maximum memory is definitely worth the consideration.