If you’re like many IT professionals we speak with, you’re trying to maximize your IT budget. Unlimited expectations re frequently tied to limited budgets. Sound familiar?
Even though global IT spending is expected to increase approximately 8 percent this year (2021) to around 4 trillion US dollars, many buyers and IT professionals we speak with are faced with trying to do more with less.
For the purposes of this blog, the discussion is specific to previously owned/installed server technology but the same can be said about all technology products. This includes servers, storage (disk/tape), networking gear and features/parts such as memory, processors, power supplies and other technology components.
The purchase of used servers or refurbished servers is not a new concept. From the very beginning, there has been a market (and demand) for used and reconditioned servers.
In fact, for a majority of companies the topic of buying used servers or refurbished servers vs. new servers has likely come up. As a provider of both new servers and refurb servers, we hear this question every day:
Should we buy refurbished servers? Or What’s the risk of buying refurb servers? Which often leads to this question….
What’s the Difference Between Refurbished and Used Servers?
To be clear, used servers and refurbished servers are definitely not the same.
The term “used servers” can mean different things to different companies. However, in general, a used server is exactly what the name implies. Whether it’s a used Dell PowerEdge server, a used HP ProLiant server, or used IBM server, they were all previously owned and installed, decommissioned, and then resold as-is.
Used servers can often be in great condition and perform flawlessly in their new environment. On the other hand, depending on how they’re sourced used servers can also underperform, have reliability issues, don’t match the required configuration and in some cases, be missing components or lack some desired features. It’s a bit of a roll of the dice.
A refurbished server can be custom configured to the client’s specifications, thoroughly tested, cleaned, painted and professionally packed. It should also be guaranteed to work upon installation, perform at the manufacturer’s published performance specifications and come with a seller’s warranty.
Businesses view technology differently. Some use technology to gain a competitive advantage in their marketplace, while others view technology as a cost of doing business. In addition, some technology platforms can be more strategic than others. Test and development or disaster recovery environments may also have fewer performance or functionality requirements, making them a more suitable fit for a less expensive refurbished solution.
There’s no doubt that you’ll save money buying a used Dell PowerEdge server or used HP ProLiant server, for example, instead of either a new or possibly a reconditioned server of the same flavor. The question is: are the savings great enough to justify the added risk, and can you live with a slightly different configuration?
These are questions you’d have to ask yourself if you’re shopping for servers and comparing new server pricing to used server pricing, and refurbished server pricing.
The Risk of Buying Used Servers
We’ve established there is generally a cost benefit to buying used servers. Is there a tradeoff that comes with those savings? Yes, there is.
Here are three considerations with used servers:
1.Sales are as-is. Has the BIOS been modified? Are all of the server components in place? Has the server memory been changed or updated? If so, is the memory certified with this server? What kind of a strain were the hard drives working under (if your used server includes hard drives)? Do all of the components in the server work? What’s the overall physical condition of the used server?
2.Replacement parts. All technology manufacturers at some point have what they call “End of Life” (EOL) for each generation of a system. When a system reaches its EOL, the manufacturer will no longer sell that generation of technology or it’s parts. These systems/parts will likely be available in the used/refurbished marketplace for a few more years until the used inventory has been diminished and/or when the item doesn’t have any value.
3.Downtime. This is a big one. Aside from the monetary investment, when a server fails, it can often have a significant impact on your environment. What would the business impact for your company be if this server goes down for an hour? A day? A week? In most cases the business impact is MUCH greater than the up front cost savings of buying a used server. Regardless, if you’re purchasing a new, refurbished or used system, it’s important that it’s covered under a hardware support agreement or warranty. More and more users are looking to self-maintain these older systems if they have the technical resources on site. In this situation, they will want to make sure they have a proper spares kit on-site in the event of a part failure.
When we talk about the cost of a new server, we’re not just talking about the initial hardware and software cost. There is a significant time investment as well. If you’ve ever installed and set up a server, you’re already aware of the work that’s involved. At AltaTech, we feel there’s a better alternative to used servers.
What’s a Refurbished Server?
Also known as “renewed” (commonly used by Amazon) or reconditioned, refurbished products are products that have been returned, tested, repaired (in some cases), repackaged and sold in its factory state.
While a refurbished server (or refurb server) is technically still used, it is most definitely not in the same category as used servers. When buying a refurbished server, you’ll want to limit your searches to reputable IT hardware resellers.
At AltaTech, our refurbished servers undergo as much or more scrutiny than new servers coming down the production line. We configure them to your needs and back them with a warranty, but they will still be eligible for the manufacturer’s hardware support agreement.
What qualifies as a refurbished server at AltaTech?
- We only refurbish servers from tier 1 server manufacturers. We provide Dell refurbished servers, HP refurbished servers, Cisco refurbished servers, IBM refurbished servers and Lenovo refurbished servers, for example.
- The server will likely have been previously installed by another company or data center.
- Each refurbished server will be configured to the clients’ requirements, thoroughly tested, cleaned, made to look like new and professionally packaged for shipping at AltaTech!
The refurbishing process at AltaTech:
Companies of all shapes and sizes depend on us to deliver quality, reliable reconditioned servers. We take this responsibility seriously, and carefully inspect, test and grade each refurbished server before putting our stamp of approval (and warranty) on it.
Visual Inspection of Each Server
Each server we receive from trusted IT hardware partners for refurbishing is visually inspected and graded.
Refurbished Server Testing
From here, each server, each component undergoes comprehensive testing. We’ll carefully test every server component. Server components that don’t meet our quality standards are replaced and recycled. We also clean each of the servers to remove any accumulated dust.
Resetting Servers to Factory Settings
Once the server hardware has passed our thorough testing process, we’ll go through and reset the server to the original factory settings. When you plug in a refurb server from AltaTech, you’ll receive a server that behaves as if it is being powered up for the first time.
Burn in Testing
Not only do we test the components for a point-in-time failure, server components are also tested over a period of time to help us detect any early component failures before shipping.
Professional Packaging / Shipping
Each refurbished server that ships from Alta Technologies is professionally packaged to ensure your new server arrives safely and in good condition.
7 Benefits of Buying Refurbished Servers
Refurbished servers cost less than new servers. In today’s business environment every dollar counts, and money saved by buying refurbished servers is money that can be put to use for your other strategic initiatives. We’re aware of the customer’s total cost of ownership (TCO) of a refurbished server vs. the TCO of a new server.
As mentioned above, one of the significant advantages of buying refurbished servers is the cost savings. This means that you’re able to afford parts with higher specs than if you were buying a new server. With that comes increased performance and redundancy.
It’s safe to say that reconditioned servers from Alta Technologies have undergone a more thorough, hands-on testing process than new servers coming out of production. The technology we sell is guaranteed to work upon installation and perform at the manufacturers published performance specifications. We stand behind all the products we sell and even offer extended warranties.
Reconditioned servers are typically one or two generations away from new. This means that parts for your reconditioned server are readily available. Quite often, because of the cost savings, IT departments will keep hot spares of key server parts (or even servers) on the shelf, ready to deploy if/when needed.
Servers that successfully pass our thorough refurbishing process are backed by our server warranty. When you buy a reconditioned server from Alta Technologies, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that your server is guaranteed. Contact us for details.
Reduced Server Lead Times
If you have experience buying new servers,
you’ve likely experienced the lead times that it takes to build them. One of the great benefits of reconditioned servers is how quickly you can receive them! Even reconditioned servers that are custom configured to your specs are able to ship very quickly.
Reduced Electronic Waste
Buying refurbished Dell servers, refurbished HP servers, refurbished Cisco, refurbished IBM or refurbished Lenovo servers from Alta Technologies is good for the environment! It’s no secret that electronic waste is an ongoing issue. By purchasing refurbished servers you’re extending the useful life of servers and reducing the environmental impact that comes from electronic waste.
For almost three decades, Alta Technologies has been providing customized IT solutions for a wide range of customer needs. Whether you are looking to upgrade or replace server, storage or networking hardware components, Alta is the answer. We offer a variety of new and refurbished technology solutions. Let us show you the value of having Alta Technologies involved in your IT hardware procurement process.