By now you\u2019ve undoubtedly heard the complaining about computing parts shortages, particularly from gamers who can\u2019t get modern GPU cards and from car makers, since new cars these days are a rolling data center.\nThe problem is also affecting business IT but in a different way, and there are steps you can take to address the problem. The first step, though, is patience. This shortage isn\u2019t due to staffing or fabs being out of commission, it\u2019s that demand is so high that it\u2019s leading to very long lead times.\n\nThat delay can mean 36 weeks, according to Mario Morales, program vice president for the semiconductor and enabling technologies team at IDC, with the demand for components \u201cseeing untempered demand.\u201d\nOne contributing factor for enterprise suppliers is that chip makers are playing favorites, says Vladimir Galabov, principal analyst in the Cloud and Data Center Research Practice at Omdia. For example a CPU with an attached support processor that costs thousands of dollars might get priority in the production queue over a CPU that costs $100 or $150 for a car or a laptop. \u201cSo as a result, at the very high end of the enterprise market data-center workloads have really been prioritized,\u201d he said.\nThe result is it is easier to get servers, network equipment, and storage arrays but the bigger challenge has been in the client space of the enterprise market, with things like laptops and desktop computers in short supply, Galabov said.\nReports have said SMBs are feeling supply shortages the worst because major OEMs favor their enterprise customers, but Ali Fenn, president of enterprise equipment reseller ITRenew, said the impact is being felt even in enterprises. \u201cWe compete with Dell, and HP, and Lenovo, and we're absolutely seeing major enterprise customers who are saying, \u2018I can't get stuff for four months, for six months,\u2019\u201d she said.\nThose enterprises, though, are still under pressure to grow and carry out digital transformation, and face long wait times. \u201cI would say for sure it is not hitting the hyperscalers, the largest cloud service providers, but I think it is hitting enterprise,\u201d she said.\nLow-end demand\nThe reason for the shortage, both consumer and corporate, has been blamed on COVID-19, but that is only one factor. First and foremost, this is not a shortage in the traditional sense. It\u2019s not like TSMC can\u2019t make chips, although a brutal drought in Taiwan is causing problems for the chip maker.\nThe problem is that demand is so great that existing production capacity can\u2019t keep up. Before there was COVID, digital transformation was driving sales. \u201cThere was a pretty large movement in the enterprise towards more digitalization across different sectors of the markets in different verticals,\u201d said Morales. \u201cI think the pandemic only accelerated that,\u201d he said.\n\u00a0\u201cAll of the connected everythings--smart cities, smart roadway, smart campuses, smart airports, smart, autonomous everything--I think this [shortage] was going to happen anyway, it just happened faster,\u201d said Fenn.\nAnother problem facing chip makers is that demand for processors was across-the-board, much of it for older technology that isn\u2019t the first choice for what the vendors would like to sell. Intel, TSMC, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, and other advanced chip makers are pushing into 7nm and 5nm designs that smart refrigerators and cars don\u2019t need. They do fine with 40nm or 28nm designs, and no one is investing in more fabs to make more. So the existing older fabs will continue to run at full capacity for the foreseeable future, with no room for error and no plans to build more.\nKeep talking to suppliers\nSo what can companies do to address this supply constraint? For starters, get more involved in your order process, said Gary Marks, president of Opengear, which makes business-continuity products. \u201cWe're telling customers--and our sales people and everybody that touches the customer--the more visibility we have in your needs and the more you can tell us what your true need is, we can try to allocate better,\u201d he said.\nMarks said that just-in-time procurement has made people lackadaisical, but chip factories hit by COVID-19 and a shipping vessel that got stuck in the Suez Canal threw cold water on that notion. \u201cI think a lot of companies took for granted supply chain and the delivery of these sorts of things,\u201d he said.\nBill Richter, CEO of Qumulo, which makes software storage systems for unstructured data, has heard of delays from network equipment vendors of up to six months. His advice to customers? Get their orders in early. \u201cThis is not the time to wait until the last minute, because these shortages are real,\u201d he said.\nBut he also says there is a little hysteria at work as well. \u201cI think the news can be worse than the reality, particularly as suppliers ramp up. But that's certainly the state of the market right now. What's this doing to initiatives, projects, and so forth? Is it stalling them? Are they canceling project and initiatives? Are they just holding off and waiting until they get what they need? No, I think customers are rethinking their approaches to managing it in a more fundamental way,\u201d he said.\nRichter said what\u2019s biting some customers is that they are locked into a single vendor. \u201cWhen you experience a supply chain shortage, and you realize that you're single-sourced through a supply chain. That\u2019s when customers are recognizing the risk of those legacy approaches,\u201d he said. Qumulo diversifies its suppliers and runs on AWS, HPE, Dell, Quanta, Western Digital, and both Intel and AMD.\nAnother solution for data-center capacity and application hosting is the cloud, since the hyperscalers like AWS and Azure aren\u2019t hurting for equipment. If you can\u2019t get a storage array or network firewall, the cloud providers have them.\nCloud can offer flexibility and a quick solution to the demand for hardware that the supply shortage is creating. \u201cIt very well may be that that's temporary, and those workloads make their way back on-prem, but having the optionality is the key for customers.\u201d he said. Having fewer alternatives means more risks.\nMorales\u2019s advice for mid-sized companies that are more likely to feel the pinch is to stay close to your supplier to understand exactly what demand it actually faces. Also, don\u2019t over order in hopes of encouraging more production because suppliers are aware of that strategy. They are going back to customer and saying that before they\u2019ll provide components, the customers have to prove they have the demand to absorb the increased supply. The providers are saying, \u201cif I'm building this stuff for you, and you're going to tell me that that the customer doesn't want it anymore I'm stuck with this,\u201d he says.\nGalabov and Morales both see the supply chain starting to normalize next year, with a full return to normalcy in 2023. Until then, plan accordingly and take a long view.