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Network Equipment Lead Times

By Andrew Lerner | February 22, 2022 | 0 Comments

NetworkingJust PublishedData Center InfrastructureSourcing, Procurement and Vendor Management Leaders

Supply chain delays have driven network equipment lead times way up. Pre-pandemic, lead times of 4-6 weeks were common. Now, 200 – 300 days is common, and we’ve seen 430+ days quoted in writing to customers. We expect lead times to remain high through early 2023, followed by slow incremental improvement over the course of months.

This has impacted nearly all network hardware vendors; but not all hardware vendors are impacted and/or are behaving in the same way. A common misconception is that “all vendors are impacted equally,” which is not true. Vendors have different portfolios, supply chains and strategies for dealing with the shortage. For example, some vendors are prioritizing chips for higher-priced equipment.

For several months now we’ve been getting calls from clients asking for guidance, because the business doesn’t want to wait to open that new building or deploy that new application. We just published research on this topic, which includes 5 specific options to help address this issue, and I’ll highlight two of them here:

Explore Certified Refurbished Equipment: Some vendors offer official refurbished programs including Cisco (Cisco Refresh) and HPE Aruba (HPE Renew). These programs allow enterprises to purchase refurbished equipment that is recertified and fully supported by the vendor (often equipment coming off lease or via return merchandise authorization [RMA]). These programs have transient inventory, so there’s no guarantee they’ll have what you need, but it is a nice place to start, especially if you just need a few things. Lead time for this equipment is days/weeks.

Optimize Existing Assets: Most enterprise data center and campus switches are overprovisioned. The rationale to over-provision was typically made to enable growth and/or simplify (structured) cabling. We estimate at least 25% of campus and data center switchports are unused, and likely more. Thus, reducing excess capacity via consolidating connectivity can readily free up 10% to 15% of switches for most enterprises, while still leaving ample room for growth. This requires network changes/recabling, operational labor and downtime, but is a straightforward option to free up switching capacity.

Happy Twos day, Andrew (2/22/22)

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