Frankly (no pun intended), I have to admit that I\u2019m growing increasingly frustrated with certain trends in networking.\nFor example, it\u2019s not that I don\u2019t like the dream or idea of software-defined networking (SDN) \u2014 it\u2019s not that I don\u2019t think it\u2019s superior to the older way of setting up or monitoring a network. It\u2019s just that I\u2019m becoming increasingly concerned that small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) won\u2019t be able to keep up. And the media that follows this trend isn\u2019t really brining to light the extreme cost of some of these systems.\nPricewise, many of the product lines are intended for large networks. There's no way that a smaller company could even begin to afford them. For example, one trainer told me that a certain SDN product was scaled to start at 500 site deployments!!\n\nTo top it all off, OEMs are encouraging techs and engineers to learn a scripting or programming language such as Python or Ruby. Most of the engineers or techs we talk to are so over-burdened that they have zero time to learn anything like this. And if they do, they will have to implement standard software control procedures. Who has time to do that? Hire more staff, you say? Not the easiest thing for SMEs to do.\nMy feeling is that for now \u2014 or until the extremely high price comes down \u2014 SMEs should keep looking at more conventional networking products.\n\n\n\n\n\nConsider the secondary market\nThis is where the secondary market and preowned equipment comes in:\u00a0savings of Capex, immediate availability (same day shipping), and support (providing SMEs options). High price, complexity, and network homogeneity have frequently been a barrier with bleeding-edge technologies.\nEveryone knows about the secondary market, but some don\u2019t realize how viable the solutions you receive from it really are. Not only can you service your infrastructure with secondary market hardware, but you can also achieve the same levels of success and reliability you\u2019ve come to expect from new equipment.\nGartner echoed my sentiment in its recent report, "Recent Cisco Networking Price Increases Demand Deeper Discounts,"\u00a0saying,\u00a0\u201cGain leverage by seriously evaluating and considering alternate suppliers, including the used and refurbished equipment market.\u201d\nIf you\u2019ve never worked with a secondary market hardware provider, sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith. Give a reputable, qualified vendor a try, and validate the quality of their offerings.\nHow to choose a secondary market partner\nOnce you decide it\u2019s time to give the secondary market a try, the next step is to find a suitable business partner. But how can you tell a reputable, capable secondary market provider from the multitude of small, fly-by-night vendors out there? At a glance, it\u2019s not all that simple.\nAnyone can set up a slick-looking website and represent themselves as a major player with all sorts of capabilities. But there are several major characteristics that you should use to thoroughly vet them.\n\nSolutions at scale \u2013 Can they handle both large and small projects in any location worldwide?\nValue recovery \u2013 Do they have the necessary capabilities, expertise, and distribution channels to maximize the value of the hardware you already have?\nComprehensive inventory \u2013 How much square footage do they dedicate to maintaining inventory? If they don\u2019t have products on hand, how can you rely on their warranty or their ability to provide support?\nProduct diversity \u2013 Do they have a wide variety of options for you to choose from, or are they too narrow to be of any real use?\nService delivery \u2013 Can they deliver on their promises, and can they provide insights, knowledge, and know-how to help you accomplish goals?\nLongevity in business \u2013 If they haven\u2019t been around a significant time, it\u2019s fair to say you may not be able to count on them to support your investment in the long-term.\n\nAs you consider offerings, apart from the OEM, the most important factors to look for in a partner are size, scale, and breadth. These provide some insurance that you\u2019re choosing a reliable vendor to do business with.\nIn its report "Used-Hardware Resellers Offer Hardware and Support Cost Savings," Gartner also advises visiting the reseller.\u00a0\n\u201cFor prospective customers to better understand the capabilities of the used-hardware resellers, an on-site visit to the provider\u2019s depot is recommended. Such a visit should include a review of the provider\u2019s testing labs to help gauge inventory size and standardized processes for logistics,\u201d it says.\nUse due diligence\nThe most important thing to remember is that you always have options. Don\u2019t allow the OEM to dictate your technology strategy.\nEvery OEM has an agenda that revolves around encouraging upgrades to their newest offerings. That's fine; we all want to see OEMs driving innovation and moving forward. But you shouldn\u2019t feel obligated to upgrade until your business needs dictate it.\nQuality secondary market providers can help you maintain your investment and save budget money in the face of rising OEM prices.\n\u201cDespite concerns related to OEMs\u2019 objections to the acquisition of used hardware, the used hardware resale market is an established and growing market,\u201d Gartner says in its report "Used-Hardware Resellers Offer Hardware and Support Cost Savings."\nFinding a reputable secondary market provider helps you add a partner who has your agenda, and your unique business needs, in mind. You get alternative solutions and a fresh outlook on how to invest in your technology.\nAs the need for small- to medium-size enterprises to find affordable SDNs continues, finding a secondary market provider that can offer a cost-effective solution seems to be a logical way to go.\nGartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.