When New Is Not An Option

Maryann Von Seggern, Cisco Capital's senior director, pre-owned equipment, explains the untapped opportunity for channel partners for pre-owned/refurbished equipment.

Budgets are a concern for every organization.

For many, balancing increased network security concerns, stronger compliance guidelines and service and support requirements can be a challenge. For these reasons, and many more, your customers may consider refurbished equipment for their networks. Price, availability, for network spares and maintenance, or compliance with “green” initiatives all are considerations when your customers are acquiring equipment.  

The big question for most organizations is how reliable and secure is used equipment?  The answer is that used equipment can be as reliable and secure as new. Still, resellers should make sure the equipment they purchase comes from a vendor that guarantees it has gone through a high-quality inspection and refurbishing process to ensure that it operates to the same standards as new equipment.

Distinct from mechanical products, network equipment does not have moving parts (other than push button switches and fans) that can wear out over time. Much of the functionality of networking equipment is software and firmware-based.  Used equipment, when refurbished properly, loaded with current firmware and software, and operated within the product specifications, can be expected to operate reliably beyond the duration of the intended product lifespan.  

With a variety of sources of used and refurbished products in the marketplace, a more accurate concern for IT managers should be, “What do I consider proper refurbishment?”  

Used gear can carry risks if obtained from questionable sources. Customers shouldn’t sacrifice quality or security for the lowest prices. Industry standards have not yet been established to define refurbished equipment. Different vendors use different processes, parts and quality acceptance standards to refurbish equipment.  

Without true industry standards, vendors indicate the quality of their refurbished equipment in a variety of ways such as the descriptions of their refurbishment levels, their use of ISO certified processes, or by providing longer warranties or service.  

Nonetheless, resellers need to look deeper and understand the factors involved in proper refurbishment, how it contributes to equipment reliability, and the differences in the processes among various types of vendors.  Only then can the context of program names, ISO certified processes, warranties and services be understood and applied to the purchase decision.

A variety of reasons exist to consider offering your customers pre-owned equipment:

  • Price: If reduced or frozen budgets are leaving the end-user short of the optimal solution for their organization, pre-owned equipment is a cost-effective way to bridge the gap and enable them to obtain the products they need, within the budget they have. Blending pre-owned gear with new in the same solution reduces overall cost, enabling a larger sale than might have otherwise been possible. Additionally, pre-owned equipment provides a competitive solution to lower-cost procurement policies, such as within government and education spaces.


  • Network Maintenance: Refurbished equipment provides a reliable source for older generation products. There is no delay in getting your customers the parts they need.


  • Network Integrity: Deploying uncertified or untested equipment can introduce security and performance risks. Purchasing certified refurbished equipment assures your customers that they are not compromising performance, quality, support or value.

Smart channel partners and vendors will never risk their reputation with questionable second-hand gear. When obtained from a reliable source, performance and reliability are the same as new equipment, ensuring that products operate reliably and securely.

Refurbishing should only be performed by the manufacturer, as third parties can inadvertently introduce additional risks. Furthermore, if working directly with vendor organizations, resellers can offer the same warranty as the corresponding new product and the same full technical support.

Refurbished networking gear can be a great option for resellers to offer their customers for many reasons, from removing gaps in the supply chain or simply for end users that lack the budget for new equipment.

Be careful where you obtain refurbished equipment and stick with a vendor who will stand behind its equipment with a warranty and proper software licenses that will transfer to the end user.  

Selecting an IT vendor with a world-class reputation will ensure you get what you pay for, a high ROI, providing a reliable supply of highly inspected and refurbished equipment, the second time around.

Maryann Von Seggern is Cisco Capital senior director, Pre-Owned Equipment.

TAGS: Cisco,channel partners,Cisco Capital,pre-owned equipment,refurbished equipment

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