As if the end of the year doesn\u2019t present enough challenges for IT professionals, now there is the added concern coming from the Trump administration regarding the tariffs that were imposed on China back on Sept. 24.\nCompanies including Cisco, Dell, HPE, and Juniper Networks all called for networking and server equipment to be dropped from the tariff regulations, but they were unable to persuade the U.S. government to do that.\n\u201cBy raising the cost of networking products, the proposed duties would impede the development and adoption of cloud-based services and infrastructure,\u201d the group told trade regulators before the tariff was imposed,\u00a0according to Reuters.\n\nOnce the tariffs went into effect, many of these original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were quick to implement price increases on their offerings, and unfortunately those increases are being passed onto consumers.\nCisco slapped a 15 percent price increase on several of their products on pretty much day one. Juniper Networks put a 3.5 percent increase in place on networking products and is scheduled to bump that up on Jan. 1, 2019. And Arista Networks started a 3.3 percent increase on all hardware products starting Oct. 1. Those are just a few of the OEMs that have changed their pricing.\nEven if your organization can make it through the end of the year unscathed, there\u2019s a bigger threat looming. The current 10 percent tariff imposed by the Trump administration is scheduled to jump to 25 percent in January 2019, leading to the likelihood of even higher costs being passed onto the customer.\nHow to combat equipment price increases\nIf the price of your hardware is going to increase, maybe there are ways to offset these costs in your maintenance and support investments. Check out this recommendation from a recent research paper from Gartner titled, "Employ These Four Best Practices to Reduce Network Maintenance Costs": \u201cRecommendation: Actively employ alternatives to traditional vendor-defined options to better manage costs by analyzing specific network support needs to identify opportunities, such as self-sparing and balancing coverage levels to align with business fluctuations.\u201d\nThere are two very astute observations in this recommendation. Let\u2019s first discuss the self-sparing option, then later we\u2019ll address how to balance coverage levels.\nIn the case of self-sparing, secondary market hardware should definitely be considered. You can get quality refurbished gear for significant discounts off list. This can eliminate some hardware support costs and enable you to have a reliable, hot-swappable spare at the ready.\nThe reliability of secondary market hardware\nThere used to be this misguided notion that new hardware was much more reliable and had a much lower failure rate than refurbished gear. But that\u2019s not the case at all. In fact, the exact opposite is true.\n Frank Kobuszewski\nThe above graph shows the higher failure rate of new network hardware and how that rate decreases once the hardware has been successfully in use for a while. The curved line of the graph shows the mean time between failures (MTBF) of the hardware.\nFailures tend to occur very early in the life of hardware or very late. These new hardware failures, many arriving dead on arrival right out of the box, can be concerning. Most new hardware is only spot-checked to test functionality. Maybe one in 50, or even one in 100, new OEM devices is tested off the line to ensure they\u2019re working.\nTime is on your side with refurbished equipment\nAnother report from Gartner \u2014\u00a0"Know When It\u2019s Time to Replace Enterprise Network Equipment" \u2014 says, \u201cMost network equipment is designed to have MTBF greater than 100,000 hours (roughly 11 years), with a general trend toward increasing MTBF due to simpler and standardized design elements.\u201d\nManufacturers typically refresh their product line every 12-24 months and will be happy to tell you why you need to upgrade to their latest offering. Since the MTBF and lifespan for network equipment is getting considerably longer, so is the time to upgrade.\nAn investment in secondary market hardware, and its long MTBF timeframes, means you can get quality hardware that you can rely on at a significantly reduced price. And that\u2019s a great way to stretch your budget in the face of OEM price increases.\nDon\u2019t be so tariff-ied!\nA different report from Gartner\u00a0\u2014 "Recent Cisco Networking Price Increases Demand Deeper Discounts" \u2014 says, \u201cGain leverage by seriously evaluating and considering alternate suppliers, including the used and refurbished equipment market.\u201d\nAs OEM prices, whether Cisco\u2019s or others, continue to rise because of the tariffs and become restrictive to your equipment needs, it\u2019s important to realize there are available options. The secondary market provides such options to service your infrastructure with secondary hardware that allows organizations to achieve the same levels of success and reliability that\u2019s expected from and OEM.\nWhile there is still some uncertainty as to how the Trump administration\u2019s tariffs on China will play out, it\u2019s realistic to believe that prices will continue to increase and that your budget will be affected. In fact, one report has stated that the new round of taxes against goods from China could occur as early as December and target the rest of the imports from China, about $257 billion worth, per the report.\nRegardless of when or if, the secondary market can provide a good alternative to the price increases imposed by the tariff. This will allow customers to have a swappable spare piece of hardware at the ready.