How do disreputable IT equipment resellers impact my enterprise? Is there really a threat from gray or black markets?
Gray and black markets can indeed impact your enterprise in a variety of ways because there are some potential pitfalls to consider. Reputable gray market equipment resellers and dealers can deliver authentic, fully-tested and functional equipment at a discount, and this may be entirely appropriate for businesses that chose to use slightly older equipment for certain data center tasks. For example, the gray market might provide servers for a business that continues to use legacy applications -- or needs parts to maintain those older servers -- and cannot justify the expense of updating the application to run on the latest hardware platforms.
However, used IT equipment provided through the gray market may have little or no warranty life left. A reputable reseller will typically warranty the used gear for a short period -- even up to a year -- but the original manufacturer will not provide support without a costly service contract, which is often more expensive than the hardware. Still, businesses that choose used IT gear are usually well-aware of the potential service risks involved and are willing to accept those risks.
Black market gear is far more problematic; it is usually advertised or represented as "new," but the original manufacturer will immediately recognize duplicated serial numbers and refuse to provide support. They may even try to recover gear with stolen serial numbers. Reputable gray market dealers take the time to investigate gear to guard against stolen or counterfeit products. It's in their interests to ensure legitimate gear, and they will make good if a black market item slips into their inventory. Of course, underhanded black market dealers will be long gone by the time you realize the used gear is stolen or fake.
Regardless of what type of IT equipment reseller you use, it's important to find out where that used server came from before you buy it.
This was first published in April 2013