You can save a bundle of money buying redundant or noncritical gear from the gray market, but a lot of risk is involved

Last week, I dug into a few of the benefits of buying IT gear from the gray market and working with less-expensive support contracts. Although it’s true that in working with less-supported (or unsupported) gear you take on a much larger share of the responsibility if things go wrong, you can also save an enormous pile of money.

However, in addition to making sure you have appropriate spare equipment on site and have staffed appropriately to be able to handle failures yourself, you must be aware of the other dangers of working with gray-market gear — especially when it comes from unscrupulous sources. Knowing what to look for when you’re in the market for used tech is incredibly important if you’re hoping to cut costs with gray-market purchases.

Unsurprisingly, hardware vendors are not shy about telling you about all the potential evils of the gray market. They claim that broken, misrepresented, incomplete, flat-out counterfeit, and even stolen hardware flood the outlets for used IT gear. It’s easy to see why hardware manufacturers aren’t jumping for joy when you decide to spend $20,000 on a used switch from a remarketer rather than $80,000 on a new one; if enough people did that (more than they already do), the manufacturers stand to lose huge amounts of revenue.

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