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Why You Should Consider Brand-Agnostic Data Center Hardware

Many IT leaders overlook the opportunity to cut costs by opting for brand-agnostic hardware – that is, hardware that can support any OEM brand or platform.

4 Min Read
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Tim Dixon_InterOptic_CEO

Tim Dixon is CEO of InterOptic.

The difficult reality for many post-recession data center teams is that they’re being asked to support more business-level wins: increase agility, modernize infrastructure to improve energy efficiency, beef up network security, and so on. At the same time, there’s increasing pressure to contain (and even shrink) IT budgets – even when there’s a clear case for long-term savings and even business gains.

It’s a frustrating situation. I’ve found, though, that many IT leaders overlook the opportunity to cut costs by opting for brand-agnostic hardware – that is, hardware that can support any OEM brand or platform. This is particularly true for network transceivers and certain cables. Here’s a breakdown of how to think about going brand-agnostic and how doing so can boost your performance and shrink your budget.

Same Capabilities, Fractional Cost

Data demands are increasing, and tolerance for latency is decreasing. To cope, interconnect is moving from 10 and 40 gbps to 100. The catch is that the cost of optical interconnect hardware is increasing along with its capabilities – and faster than the costs of other hardware. That’s significant, given that network transceivers already account for 10 to 15 percent of capital spending by enterprises.

But you know you can’t cut corners on interconnect bandwidth; if you do, you risk unplanned downtime or untraceable diagnostics within the network, which can be wildly expensive.

Enter brand-agnostic hardware. Functionally identical to OEMs, brand-agnostic hardware typically costs 30 to 50 percent less. What’s more, many offer longer warranties (three-year is standard, versus one-year for OEMs). And, of course, brand-agnostic devices support more interfaces.

How is this possible? Take the example of optical transceivers. OEMs typically mark up this product as much as 350 percent. Think of them as reverse loss leaders: Because buyers typically negotiate a single discount for all the hardware they purchase (from a single vendor, naturally), suppliers can sell transceivers at a steep markup while still giving the impression of offering a discount. The optical transceivers we sell are equivalent to OEM models in performance, but come at a fraction of the cost.

So how can you enjoy the savings of going brand agnostic without risking performance with a company you don’t know yet? Gartner published a piece about brand-agnostic transceivers that includes a list of questions to ask vendors to ensure that their equipment and support will match your company’s needs.

Universal Compatibility

Brand-agnostic transceivers are exactly that: They function with all hardware brands. This means you can update hardware piecemeal, as you need replacements and as your budget allows, rather than being forced to upgrade everything simultaneously (or putting off upgrades because of budget restrictions).

I’ve heard of high-pressure sales tactics where sellers insist that using third-party equipment will void the warranty on other parts. While every company’s policy is different, claims of voiding warranties usually aren’t true. 

Performance as a Primary Hardware Metric

Updating hardware used to be a straightforward task that involved little more than ordering the next-generation package. Today, maintaining and upgrading data center hardware is an exercise in optimization. It’s a balancing act of lowering costs while maintaining high reliability and meeting ever-increasing data needs.

That’s important to recognize for anyone managing data center hardware: Data needs will continue to increase. As IoT and automation become more ubiquitous, as companies move to 5G, as more and more teams within a company want to be able to process data in real time – the demands on the data center are only going to intensify.

When you transition to brand-agnostic hardware, you’re no longer married to what’s offered by a single vendor. Instead, your primary concern becomes performance: Will this transceiver improve performance? Will those performance improvements justify its cost? Assuming the answer is “yes,” you can make the purchase knowing that the hardware will work within your existing ecosystem.

Doing More with Less

As a marketing promise, the idea of “doing more with less” is almost always misleading. But in the case of third-party data center hardware, the opportunities to cut costs while improving performance are very real.

Brand-agnostic transceivers can improve security, agility, and functionality in your data center while actually decreasing your overall spend.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.




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