Businesses may choose to make due with gray market equipment when platform updates simply won’t work or older systems require continued support.

Just as used cars can provide suitable and reliable transportation, used servers and other hardware can also provide adequate computing capacity for a business data center. The used IT market has grown in the last decade as companies seek to reduce capital expenses and preserve established systems. But used computing equipment can carry risks for a business. It’s important to perform some due diligence and take precautions to avoid purchasing stolen, counterfeit or defective equipment from disreputable IT equipment resellers.

To understand the used IT market, it’s important for business leaders to differentiate between white, gray and black markets. The white market is basically dealing directly with the system vendor or their authorized IT equipment reseller. Going this route will get you full vendor warranties, and even more important, the service providers will have access to spare parts and support from the vendors.

Gray market equipment — or secondary market equipment — deals with used IT hardware. System manufacturers almost never sell used equipment. They want the premiums for the latest and greatest models. But every technology refresh cycle displaces a huge amount of gear that is actually working just fine. That used equipment is typically sold off to the secondary market, which resells the used gear for far less than what new gear would cost (even for parts). Organizations such as the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement define the gray market as the “unauthorized sale of new, branded products diverted from authorized distribution channels or imported into a country for sale without the consent or knowledge of the manufacturer.”

Continue reading…