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Ask Slashdot: Do You Trust When a Vendor Tells You To Buy New Parts?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the don't-clench dept.

Businesses 156

Nerval's Lobster writes "Roughly 85 percent of IT managers polled by Forrester said they would hold onto networking infrastructure longer, but vendors retire products prematurely in an effort to force customers to upgrade. In a response that may seem familiar to anyone who's ever been pressured into buying a maintenance contract—either by an enterprise vendor or a major electronics retailer—over 80 percent of the 304 respondents said they don't like the misrepresented cost savings, new fees, and inflexible pricing models—but buy the products anyway. One of the survey's interesting points is that IT decision makers aren't willing to contradict the vendor. The uncertainty seems to come from the fact that the vendor may in fact be right—and a customer who contradicts what they're saying may end up shouldering the blame if the equipment goes south. It's the 'you never got fired for buying IBM' argument, applied to the networking space. The problem, of course, is that the vendor often works for its own agenda. Do you upgrade when the vendor (or reseller) suggests you do so? Or do you stick to your own way of doing things?"

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156 comments

Depends on the consequences of being wrong (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721655)

And, let's face it, whose money you're spending.

Re:Depends on the consequences of being wrong (4, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43723665)

In my experience, the only people who get rewarded for cost savings are the ones in management. They're the ones who get the bonuses and gratitude of the people who actually run the company. As a result, there is literally no upside to turning down a vendor-recommendation, yet plenty of potential blame if you do. That being said, if you really think an upgrade isn't needed, just submit official vendor recommendations, and maybe a section detailing the alternative, including stuff like expected costs savings versus risk of hardware failure for keeping the "older" stuff in place, etc.. Make sure you include hard numbers, when it comes to the cost of upgrading versus the cost and risks of not. If they decide to save the money and not upgrade, they did so will full-documented knowledge of any risks that come with it. Keep a copy of your recommendation, and their response, in your CYA file.

It's also worth noting that IT guys get something out of upgrading vendor stuff before absolutely necessary: experience with newer equipment. It's fun to be able to play with the latest and greatest, and also allows for a nice method of updating your skill set on a resume. You always want an exit strategy, so the last thing you need is to look for a new job with a resume filled with outdated vendor equipment. Unless it's something really rare or specialized, of course.

Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#43721681)

Nearly all HP kit has it even a lot of Cisco kit does (though they make you jump through hoops to use it). Buy good kit I've replaced cisco 6500's bits over the years that were bought in the 90's and just got tech refreshes not bad taking a 10/100 with a few gig ports to 10ge over 14 years.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721825)

Lifetime warranty from Cisco doesn't mean for the lifetime of the piece of equipment. Quoth Cisco (from http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/general/warranty/English/LH2DEN__.html):

As long as the original End User continues to own or use the Product. In the event of discontinuance of product manufacture, Cisco warranty support is limited to five (5) years from the announcement of discontinuance.

TomTom GPS also screws you on "lifetime" warranty! (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43722707)

It's like the lifetime warranty for TomTom GPSs : the warranty applies for as long as the device is functional; once the product stops functioning, the lifetime warranty no longer applies. WTF?

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43722201)

Nearly all HP kit has it even a lot of Cisco kit does (though they make you jump through hoops to use it).

A "life time warranty" (even if it really is - most life time warranties are the life of the product, which can be very short indeed) only means the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies. All equipment dies at some point - if some equipment is mission critical then you shouldn't run it into the ground just because the vendor will replace it when it dies. (Of course, really mission critical stuff should have backup equipment ready to go too!)

That said, equipment follows a "bath tub" curve and I often think that people replace it too soon. I see a lot of "that's 3 years old, we should replace it", which seems bonkers to me - if a bit of equipment has been working very reliably for 3 years, I would certainly hesitate to replace it with shiny new (untested) kit.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43722353)

A "life time warranty" (even if it really is - most life time warranties are the life of the product, which can be very short indeed) only means the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies.

Is there some other possible definition of "life time warranty" other than "the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies (within the lifetime as defined by the vendor)"?

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43722419)

Is there some other possible definition of "life time warranty" other than "the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies (within the lifetime as defined by the vendor)"?

My point was, if your equipment is old and reaching the end of its servicable life, the chance of failure is high. Replacing it reduces the chance of failure, just having a warranty does not - if it dies then it dies, whether or not you get some pitiful payout when it does.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43722435)

A "life time warranty" (even if it really is - most life time warranties are the life of the product, which can be very short indeed) only means the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies.

Is there some other possible definition of "life time warranty" other than "the vendor will pay out or replace stuff if it dies (within the lifetime as defined by the vendor)"?

well yeah.. the for consumer definition in countries where companies can't use donald duck comics tactics("it wasn't a fly on the contract - that was the small print!"). usa is not one of them. of course, these countries tend to have other rules as well like manufacturing defects being replaceable forever.. and electronics having mandatory guarantees spanning further than american extended warranties. so you can get koss porta pros replaced forever for yearly cable faults as long as you bother to take 'em back.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year ago | (#43722601)

I'd say the curve should be closer to 5 or 6 years, depending on what it is we're talking about. If we're talking about a storage system, I'll start replacing disks sooner than later in the hopes of offsetting a catastrophic EOL failure.

Video cards are about 3 years for me, personally. But general computing equipment? I don't have a problem running it into the ground, as long as there isn't important data on it. 5 years is a good benchmark. If it starts to fail after 4, I just chuck it and start over. It's all about the cost potential involved.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (3, Interesting)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year ago | (#43723003)

I'm honestly hoping to get 6-8 years out of the NAS box I built last year... I've got Raid-Z2 (double parity) and two hot-spares... When it's full, as long as I don't lose more than two drives in less than two days, I should be fine... now remembering which drives are which a few years from now should one go bad, that's a different story. 12 WD Green 3TB drives. 22TB of relatively safe storage... I do have backups for *really* critical stuff.. but would be a pain to lose the 4.5TB already on the thing.

That said, dropping $2K on hardware for storage more than once in half a decade sounds insane to me. I upgraded from my 4TB nas box that I filled up in about 2.5 years.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year ago | (#43723767)

That is purely a function of whose buying and what the purpose is. For a home NAS, I certainly wouldn't have plunked down $2K. I might have started with 4 of those drives in RAID-10 - more than sufficient to handle your current load. I also might just have done 2 drives with 2 for backup, and been done.

Re:Stop buying gear without lifetime warentee (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43723525)

It depends on your tolerance for downtime and predictability of costs. I once worked in a place where we used a number of high speed pumps. These pumps would fail pretty regularly. If you wanted to minimize downtime you would have a service contract, and routinely take it out of service and either have it refurbished or replace it with a refurbished unit. We could handle random downtimes, so we would just wait for it to fail and pay for the refurbishment. It probably ended up being a bit more, as parts were actually damaged, and the costs were less predictable, but that is what we did. Other places might have gone with the warranty or service plan.

Tell the vendor their competitor offered you 50... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721683)

percent off list, and since you're looking at a new rollout anyways, do they still think you need new hardware even if it's a competitor's?

If they say yes, you can probably believe. And might save a few quid on the rollout to boot :)

Yes, if its a video card ... (1, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#43721693)

Do You Trust When a Vendor Tells You To Buy New Parts?

Yes, if its a video card. Buying a low end video card (US$120-140) every two or three years seems to improve the end user experience nicely, **iff** we are talking about a system used for gaming.

On second thought I guess I am not really trusting the vendor since they are telling me to buy the US$500 video card.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43721937)

I guess you didn't even read the summary, or you'd realize we're talking about infrastructure and not toys or luxuries.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#43722173)

I guess you didn't even read the summary, or you'd realize we're talking about infrastructure and not toys or luxuries.

Or perhaps I was trying to make a general point that upgrading every 2 or 3 years can be a good thing, it depends entirely on the specific item, and I chose to use an example that nearly all readers could understand.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722229)

Upgrading every 2 or 3 years is unrealistic, impractical and on larger projects, literally impossible. The scale you're using is insignificant compared to the one the article is talking about.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722403)

Upgrading every 2 or 3 years is unrealistic, impractical and on larger projects, literally impossible. The scale you're using is insignificant compared to the one the article is talking about.

The article did not seem to restrict itself to large scale items. There are infrastructure components that are key and small in number. For example thousands of users may connect to hundreds of blade servers that are supported by a single database server. After a few years perhaps that single database server could be upgraded.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#43722217)

Exactly,

Talking about tens of thousands for SMB and hundreds of thousands to millions with enterprises.

As for the graphic card, if you were to buy 1000 graphics cards, you would buy the top notch card because employee lost time outweighs cost of electronic hardware almost every time.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43722441)

I guess you didn't even read the summary, or you'd realize we're talking about infrastructure and not toys or luxuries.

the same thing applies.

do you buy an item just because the sales vendor came over for his yearly visit? hell no.

Re:Yes, if its a video card ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722645)

CAD much?

Ask them why. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721707)

I'm all for upgrading, when the vendor can show specific reasons why it benefits me.

Related question (3, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#43721723)

Here's a related question. Do you trust when a car manufacturer tells you to buy new parts?

Specifically, the maintenance schedule in the owner's packet that comes with a new car. For example [nissanusa.com], at 60,000 miles:

1) Replace engine coolant

2) Replace HEV inverter coolant

3) Replace manual transmission oil

4) Replace automatic transmission/CVT/eCVT fluid

5) Replace differential oil

6) Replace engine drive belts

7) Replace radiator cap

8) Replace transfer case oil

Are all these necessary, or is the dealer trying to squeeze more money from the owner? I've heard various mechanics coming down on both sides of this question. Does the differential oil really need periodic replacing? Do you need new drive belts if there's no visible damage?

(Also: Do you replace the engine oil and filter every 2000 miles, or is this just another way to squeeze money from the consumer?)

Re:Related question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721807)

2k miles?! Even the slimeball lube shops only recommend every 3000, where do you take your car?

On a side note, I replace my oil roughly every 5k miles and have never had an oil related issue in a car I've owned--unless a leak was involved.

Re:Related question (2)

SiChemist (575005) | about a year ago | (#43722263)

The owners manual in my car suggest changing the oil every 7,500 miles. Modern oils and modern engines are much better than the ones that the 3000 mile guidelines developed from. You can "check your number" [checkyournumber.org] at the calrecycle web site to see the vehicle manufacturer recommendations.

Re:Related question (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43722385)

2k miles?! Even the slimeball lube shops only recommend every 3000, where do you take your car?

maybe the dealer where they also make you pay a labor change on top of the oil change that costs way more the they jiffy lube.

Re:Related question (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#43722857)

Actually, the dealer for me is about half as much as Jiffy and doesn't push any unneeded upgrades. If you want new wiper blades/lights/etc, you have to ask.

Re:Related question (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43723299)

You need a better dealer. You can shop around those too.

Jiffy lube might be fine for some cars, but have fun when they put 5w-30 in a car that needs 0w-20 just because that is what they have for bulk oil.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723421)

The Prius c recommends a 10,000 mile oil change interval. I'm not sure I trust that.

Oil analysis [blackstone-labs.com] is the best way to know. That's usually done for aircraft.
Regular analysis will tell you exactly when an engine starts to burn oil and it will tell you of any contamination.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723663)

Do remember that the Prius - depending on driving style, city/freeway, etc - drives quite a ways with the ICE off. However, time-at-temprature is a major factor in oil degradation, so a lot depends on how hot the oil is getting during the specific drive cycle of the specific Prius...

Re:Related question (1)

ADRA (37398) | about a year ago | (#43721885)

I know diff's occasionally get metal filings inside, and I can't tell the true harm, but I imagine early wear is a likely result.

I've been driving my Subaru going on 10 years and by sticking roughly to their replacement schedule I've never had anything outside of free recalls deal with. I could be lucky, or it could be a matter of keeping the car in good shape. Who's to tell.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722189)

At least it's not a Saab...

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722401)

Why do they call it a Saab? Because thats the noise the owner makes when it breaks down.

Re:Related question (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year ago | (#43723437)

Same here but not with a Subaru. By simply following the recommended change intervals for fluids you can greatly increase the service life of a vehicle. The example I like to trot out now is my 96 Jeep Cherokee with 377,XXX miles on it. It runs great, doesn't burn or leak oil, doesn't have the valve train chatter that other 4.0 L Jeep engines have, the 4wd works great, manual transmission still shifts smoothly, etc. granted the paint is shot and it has some rust but then I use it for hauling stuff, camping, and hunting so I have only added to the dents and scratches. It was well cared for before I got it as I found out when changing all the fluids and filters and saw that for once someone had change fluids other than just the engine oil. My daily driver has 257,XXX miles on it with 157,000 of them from me and it runs great as well with similar care. On the other hand my mother and step father need to replace their 2005 impala as the thing barely runs yet they don't bother with things like regular maintenance and will really stretch the oil changes to double the recommended interval. Their other car is a 2000 caviler and it runs slightly better but then it is my mother's car and she has taken better care of it. The impala doesn't even have 100,000 miles on it and the caviler only has about 120,000 miles on it so it isn't like these vehicles have excessive miles on them. Every previous vehicle I have owned has gone off to the scrap yard after I owned them either because they ceased to run (3 of them and they weren't in great condition when I got them) or where totaled in an accident (2 of them). The two that were totaled were higher mileage vehicles (212k and 189k) and ran great until they were hit. The ones that ceased to run had 257k, 252k, and 178k miles on them and they were all very low cost beaters with the most expensive one costing $350 and all came with known problems.

Re:Related question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721901)

The car list you posted are consumables.

Do you change the oil in your 6500 too?

Re:Related question (3, Informative)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#43722333)

no but i do replace the ether fluid every 10k packets, and I do see the improvement in packet-loss numbers

Re:Related question (3, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43721991)

All of those are relatively small cost items that break down over time and protect much higher value items. For example, if the engine coolant breaks down enough excessive corrosion can ruin an engine.That is very different than replacing a router with a new slightly faster router even though there is no current issue with speed.

Does the differential oil really need periodic replacing?

Yes, as a chemical it breaks down over time reducing efficiency and increasing wear. It also accumulates small metal particles which increase wear. The choice is to spend $50 replacing the differential oil at 60K miles or spend thousands to replace the differential sooner than necessary.

Do you need new drive belts if there's no visible damage?

According to this article [yahoo.com], yes.

Consumables vs New. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722033)

Here's a related question. Do you trust when a car manufacturer tells you to buy new parts?

Specifically, the maintenance schedule in the owner's packet that comes with a new car. For example [nissanusa.com], at 60,000 miles:

1) Replace engine coolant

2) Replace HEV inverter coolant

3) Replace manual transmission oil

4) Replace automatic transmission/CVT/eCVT fluid

5) Replace differential oil

6) Replace engine drive belts

7) Replace radiator cap

8) Replace transfer case oil

Are all these necessary, or is the dealer trying to squeeze more money from the owner? I've heard various mechanics coming down on both sides of this question. Does the differential oil really need periodic replacing? Do you need new drive belts if there's no visible damage?

(Also: Do you replace the engine oil and filter every 2000 miles, or is this just another way to squeeze money from the consumer?)

You're talking about consumables. What the vendors are doing is the same as a car manufacturer telling you to buy a new car because it's out of date - regardless if it still works or not.

Re:Consumables vs New. (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#43722647)

You're talking about consumables. What the vendors are doing is the same as a car manufacturer telling you to buy a new car because it's out of date - regardless if it still works or not.

It always comes down to does the cost of the piece of equipment breaking and you being out of commission for some period of time outweigh the cost of replacing it ahead of time when it can be scheduled to minimize downtime.

If you are a traveling salesman an rely 100% on your vehicle, replacing it prior to it's useful life may be beneficial in the long run due to maintenance costs as well as downtime as more and more maintenance is required to keep it in operational shape. Plus the cost of lost opportunity should the vehicle break down and a meeting's missed, a sale is lost, etc.

Re:Consumables vs New. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43723085)

It's not just the downtime. Replacing a seal that costs a few bucks could save you thousands on a new engine.

Re:Consumables vs New. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43723463)

You are missing the analogy. There is no maintenance on most networking equipment. There's nothing you can do to a Cisco 6500 that will make it less likely to fail. Unless you replace all the power supplies, and all the cards inside on a regular basis. But if you are doing all that, you might as well buy the new version, as I've bought a $250,000 6500 where the chassis was about $10,000 of that cost, the rest in cards and such.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722089)

Most dealers, as I understand, lease their service departments to anyone with the cash to inhabit the repair shop. Most customers think it's all one happy dealership. Dealer repair centers are usually not even related to the sales center--business wise--which is why most are so often unethical. From the moment you get on the lot, it's all about squeezing your oranges until you run out of juice.
However regarding oil, one told me you don't really need to replace it @ 3k miles and as an example said, "Synthetic oil doesn't get replaced until 20k miles, which is six times longer than normal recommended motor oil replacement, but encounters six times amount of filth that any oil would. Then, do the math: it's also 5-6 times costlier, too, but they tell you synthetic can handle the engine grime better. Does that make sense to you?"
No, it sounds like the same scheme to me.

Re:Related question (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43723547)

I've seen a number of sites that claim that you never need to change your oil, so long as you have a high performance oil filter and change the filter every 1000 miles. The oil itself never breaks down (unless there's some other problem with your engine), but it gets contaminated. Of course, they are all selling high performance oil filters designed to be changed easily and without losing oil from the engine.

I also noted that in one of the engine tests, they ran an engine with "regular" oil and one with "special" oil, then drained both and took them out on a race track until both failed. Regular oil went for hours. Special oil went longer. Oil isn't that important, I wasn't there, so who knows if it was about lack of oil or improper cooling for an engine that doesn't have any oil cooling happening.

But nobody ever thinks outside the box. In fact, it looks like there's very little thinking inside the box either.

Re:Related question (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year ago | (#43722117)

I'm not sure how this is a related question? At X miles you can have the fluid taken out and tested and show the percentage of breakdown that occurs. There is a reason there are SAE standards. Now the breakdown may occur more or less quickly depending on environment and driving habits but the number are a good average. These are all parts that suffer mechanical stress and will eventually wear out.

It's not much different from computer hard drives. They will eventually fail, keep an eye on your SMART diagnostics. The real question comes in to play with solid state devices. If it has good caps, good power, and kept cool, the life of the device should far exceed the usefulness of the device. I've had servers in climate and dust controlled rooms last 12+ years. Support for the devices ends far quicker then the usefulness.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722137)

2000 miles for engine oil is excessive even by the excessive 3000 mile standard of for dino oil. Your best bet is to go by what the manual recommends as an engine oil change interval, but in reality there is little harm in going over that by two thousand miles or so. You may also extend the life by using synthetic blends or full synthetic oils on your next change.

Belts I don't generally replace on any maintenance schedule. I imagine the recommendations on these are based on making sure they don't break under any normal scenarios because they don't want people to be stranded. If you keep an eye on them and only replace when you see signs of impending failure (i.e. cracks, extreme wear) you will be fine, but probably 95% of people don't ever do that. My exception to this is timing belts. They're generally hidden behind guards so they're harder for the average person to inspect, and if they break, your engine will likely suffer catastrophic damage.

Gear case oils (except automatic transmissions) and fluids (brake, coolant, etc) tend to last much longer than crankcase oils in the vehicle. They do indeed break down and get contaminated over time, and depending on the oil types/weights used may need to be changed at certain intervals. 60k does seem early, but the manufacturers spec them based on the expected condition after x miles. For example, the oil change interval on my manual transmission is every 100k per Ford.

Re:Related question (1)

crakbone (860662) | about a year ago | (#43722291)

older car with turbo and regular oil in rough environment I could see a 2,000 or even 1,500 mile oil change routine.

Re:Related question (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43722181)

Here's a related question. Do you trust when a car manufacturer tells you to buy new parts?

do you buy a new car every time a new year model comes out and you see an advertisement? of course not, you would be a sucker if you did.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722505)


Do you trust when a car manufacturer tells you to buy new parts?

Why yes I do. Why? Because there's little conflict of interest. The car makers make zero money off of replacing my engine coolant, oil change recommendations, etc. For a service center, that's their bread and butter. Why do you think these oil change places recommend 3000 mile oil changes rather than around 5000 for most every car manufacturer.

The difference is that the networking manufacturers are recommending replacing the whole she-bang. That represents an obvious conflict of interest. If you want a parallel, would you trust an auto maker to tell you how often you should buy a new car? How about a jewellery store that recommends how much money you should spend on a wedding ring?

Re:Related question (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year ago | (#43722975)

Those guys that wrote the maintenance schedule there really dropped the ball. How could they forget changing the turn signal fluid or lubricating the muffler bearings?

Re:Related question (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43723131)

You can test all of those fluids, but some of the tests cost the same as new fluid, so you replace the fluid. It's about $50 for an oil analysis, are you prepared to have five of these analyses done? Coolant should be replaced every 2 years at least, more for heavy use, no matter what the manufacturer says. (You can test it, as well. There's at least two tests you need to do, on some diesels three.) Drive belts can be inspected. Radiator cap can be tested, but again it's cheap and they go bad.

The situation is less clear with computers, many of whose parts have an estimated MTBF. But a lot of automotive consumables haven't changed much in a long time and are very well known.

Re:Related question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723561)

That depends entirely on whether or not you like having to replace it on the side of the freeway.

Re:Related question (1)

Pope (17780) | about a year ago | (#43723643)

(Also: Do you replace the engine oil and filter every 2000 miles, or is this just another way to squeeze money from the consumer?)

No, I do it when the users manual says to. Who came up with this 2000 miles crap? It's not the 70s anymore.

From a vendor perspective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721729)

Do you upgrade when the vendor (or reseller) suggests you do so?

The answer is no, they don't. Which is exactly what it should be, and I doubt anyone (that isn't a money grubbing whore in management) minds.
If you have equipment that works, why should you upgrade? It works!

The problem lies when the old equipment becomes run down and faulty, they refuse to update to something that DOES work, and demand that we spend manpower and extra money we'll never get back fixing their outdated machines, which 6/10 times isn't even possible and we just end up wasting everyone's time.

Stop buying crap (2)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43721767)

HP will extend the warranty on any business class system they sell for a minimum of 5 years beyond the initial 3 year warranty, at the end of 8 years it probably IS more cost effective to replace the system (hell, the HP 3000 series boxes were supported for over a decade after end of sale). For networking I love Cisco chassis based switches, Cat 6500, 4000, and 4500 series switches have all lasted at least a decade.

Re:Stop buying crap (0)

Chazmosis (831113) | about a year ago | (#43721909)

Since when? I've been dealing with HP for purchasing my gear for a very long time, and the max you can extend your warranty to is 5 years total. 3 Years on the original purchase, plus an additional 2 by carepack. Either you're crazy, or every HP rep I've ever dealt with has some 'splainin to do.

Re:Stop buying crap (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43721969)

they won't sell you another care pack after 5 years of life?

we have HP servers that we buy care packs for after they come off warranty sometimes a year or two off warranty. the care packs are just 1 or 2 years at a time since they price them out every year depending on the failure rates

Re:Stop buying crap (1)

Chazmosis (831113) | about a year ago | (#43722681)

I've never been able to. They've always ended support of a purchased machine at 5 years flat, based on inability to ensure either parts supply, or EOL of SKU, or flat up stability of the platform after 5 years of hard use.

Re:Stop buying crap (2)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43722121)

We buy our systems with 5 years up front and they'll extend them up to 3 years past that.

Re:Stop buying crap (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43723059)

For networking I love Cisco chassis based switches, Cat 6500, 4000, and 4500 series switches have all lasted at least a decade.

I only feel sorry for the last customers to buy cat5ks, which could not be made y2k compliant for love nor money.

Re:Stop buying crap (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43723621)

cat5ks should never have been made. I've had cisco buy them back from different companies for different reasons, always because the stated specs were wrong, usually related to which features are available with which sup module. And yes, it's really really hard to get Cisco to buy them back.

Remove yourself from the Decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721775)

That's really the best you can do, and in most environments it's not possible anyways, but if you elevate the decision to a boss and don't advise him one way or another then the decision will rest squarely on their shoulders, do be certain to do this in email of course, and pass along all the spam you get from the company as to why you should upgrade, and even then... sometimes you'll get fingered for it anyways, but generally if an email trail isn't enough to keep the blame from falling on you then your time at that company was limited regardless.

TBH the money a company will end up losing upgrading prematurely isn't so significant that it's worth you risking your job for.

Stop golf course meetings and let real IT people i (2, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43721787)

Stop golf course meetings and let real IT people in to meetings as well.

Fine, fine... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721849)

We needed a caddy anyway.

Re:Stop golf course meetings and let real IT peopl (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#43722237)

What if they don't want to share their cut of the bribe with the IT people?

in a word, no. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#43721833)

generally i keep my options pretty open. infrastructure servers are usually high availability and ordered from Silicon Mechanics or something. theyre cheap, my management enjoys the cost savings, and if one breaks its super simple to just order another as opposed to trying to justify the 'value.' ERP applications or databases will get the Dell/HP Treatment with the $nonferrous_metal level service support and $mm/$dd/$yyyy response SLA because management sees more value in them and theyre generally easier to get upgrades and DR stuff for. Dell for example knows this and actually ships an SAP "break-down" sheet for my manager to get the fuzzies about so he can look good in front of his management, who in turn can tout our 'core relationship with leading technology vendors' to investors and C-levels.

Ive stayed away from Cisco because of the cost, lock-in, and seriously underhanded sales tactics theyve used in the past. Things like firewalls and VPN are nearly exclusively Open Source here just because management cant justify the cost of a laptop for someone, let alone the cost of a token/license/enterprise server. Management gets their nano-yubikey (which they think is incredibly tech-savvy and sexy) and everyone is assigned a fun password from pwqgen.

Use cases (1)

ADRA (37398) | about a year ago | (#43721837)

If you don't want to upgrade every 2-3 years you could always:

  - You're a small shop with no money and the equipment is doing business critical work: Carry a spare and possibly arrange in redundant configurations
  - You're a small shop with no money and the equipment is doing nothing critical: Possibly carry a spare
  - You're a large shop with 'too much' money and the equipment is doing business critical work: Carry spare(s) and arrange in redundant configurations
  - You're a large shop with 'too much' money and the equipment is nothing critical: Carry spare

Never buy equipment that can't be vendor/product line swapped unless you're seriously in bed with the vendor and have an iron clad support contract. Best to mix up equipment from time to time just to make sure that your IT people CAN adapt to other vendors if the sh hits the fan.

Re:Use cases (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43722261)

If you don't want to upgrade every 2-3 years you could always:

  - You're a small shop with no money and the equipment is doing business critical work: Carry a spare and possibly arrange in redundant configurations

  - You're a small shop with no money and the equipment is doing nothing critical: Possibly carry a spare

  - You're a large shop with 'too much' money and the equipment is doing business critical work: Carry spare(s) and arrange in redundant configurations

  - You're a large shop with 'too much' money and the equipment is nothing critical: Carry spare

All too often:
  - You're a small/large shop with enough money and the equipment is doing critical work: Ignore advice to have a spare/redundant configuration, scream blue murder when it breaks. (And usually after a big outage like that, once its all up and running, they *still* ignore the advice to have spares).

Re:Use cases (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year ago | (#43723001)

Keep a resignation letter in your desk along with copies of your recommendations and a list of your consulting rate. Use it when someone is screaming blue murder at you.

Re:Use cases (1)

Stiletto (12066) | about a year ago | (#43723381)

LOL I've seen the "resign then offer to contract" stunt work maybe once, for one guy, during my 15 year career. Try it, and more than likely you'll get a response from the boss: "Well..... bye."

Not premature (1)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | about a year ago | (#43721899)

Maybe some SOHO/small business networking gear gets retired prematurely, but for larger scale Cisco stuff the end of sale/end of life dates are way beyond when anyone would reasonably want to use the gear.

Re:Not premature (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43722313)

Maybe some SOHO/small business networking gear gets retired prematurely, but for larger scale Cisco stuff the end of sale/end of life dates are way beyond when anyone would reasonably want to use the gear.

My ISP recently expressed shock when I told them one of my DSL modems was over 10 years old... I'm not entirely sure why they thought it would've been worth replacing - a DSL modem is a DSL modem, a new one isn't going to do anything the old one didn't do, so why bother replacing it? Anyway, the firmwares on consumer grade kit are still junk, so "upgrading" was always most likely to just replace one set of serious bugs with another set of serious bugs...

There are two times to upgrade. (1)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about a year ago | (#43721931)

  • Infrastructure ceases to function and an upgrade is the cheapest long term solution.
  • The cost of upgrading is less than the savings in productivity, which is frequently true because manpower tends to be significantly more expensive than hardware.

SonicWall does this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43721943)

SonicWall (now Dell SonicWall) does this to no end. Perfectly capable hardware but they stop producing firmware and updates, warranty contracts, etc.. prematurely and force you to the next product.. Great products though BTW.. Just the forced upgrade/migration sucks..

 

Re:SonicWall does this (1)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | about a year ago | (#43722305)

They *could* produce the firmware and updates forever, but how are they going to pay the salaries of the people and infrastructure to deliver it? Yes, they could build it into the price, but if they built in 'everlasting support' into the original purchase price, it would be too expensive for you to buy in the first place. It's not only up to the SonicWalls of the world, but also the chipmakers (and every other supplier up the line).

The folks that front the money (so you don't have to fork out the purchase price 2 years ahead of time) want some return on their investment. If technology was static, the 'perfect' product could be made, it would be flawless the first time out and never need replacing. But technology isn't static, and there is no such thing as infinite patience.

Re:SonicWall does this (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43723329)

They *could* produce the firmware and updates forever, but how are they going to pay the salaries of the people and infrastructure to deliver it?

"If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Combination (2)

cogeek (2425448) | about a year ago | (#43721981)

We generally lease servers but buy network equipment. All of our network equipment has redundant units and is a pretty static environment, so I don't run out and buy new equipment every time a vendor end of life's something or recommends we replace it. When we have a failure/rollover situation, if the equipment is end of life, we'll upgrade, if not, and it's still under support, we replace the failed device and life goes on.

Here's why IT managers upgrade anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722029)

IT managers upgrade anyway when pressured because "who is going to bail me out of that tight spot when the excrement hits the fan?" The answer is "Not the vendor. They don't support that anymore and I don't have a current support contract". Warranties and support contracts are like buying insurance. You hope you don't have to use it, but you are a moron if you don't have it.

Ask for evidence ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43722071)

I'm sure most of us have dealt with sales reps over the years, and seen all sorts of claims of bigger/better/faster/cheaper, but they're often unsubstantiated by anything.

We had a scenario with a vendor a while back where functionality we were relying on wasn't going to be in their next version until a year after it was too late for us. (Add on component we'd been using for years.)

So, we basically forced them into extending support since the only reason we couldn't upgrade was because of their inability to deliver functionality we already had.

Then they spent the next year constantly asking us when we would be upgrading, and conveniently trying to forget about the signed contract they'd given us to extend support and telling us we were about to become unsupported.

You need to work with your vendor, but you sure as hell don't need to take what they tell you at face value without something to support it.

At the end of the day, most of the salesmen (because that's what your rep is) are more worried about their commission check than anything else, and will certainly mislead your or pressure you to do something which doesn't really benefit you.

Our purchasing policy works well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722099)

All of our vendors are made aware of our purchasing policy.

We do not purchase products from the first vendor who tells us we have to have them. If we do need something, we purchase it from another vendor.

For example, a vendor comes in and tells us we need a new router. We do the analysis in house and if we determine we do in fact need a new router, we buy it from anyone but the guy who told us we need a new one.

Cuts down on the bullshit.

This is a no-brainer.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722107)

You continue to use the product if the following requirements are all met:
A) The hardware continues to meet the performance SLA.
B) You have access to replacement parts in a way that meets your availability SLA.
C) You continue to receive security patches.

Everything else is circumstantial.

Vendor here: It's not all just crap (1)

neonedge (540164) | about a year ago | (#43722129)

Well, we're actually an integrator. We generally recommend new gear for two reasons: Age & insufficiency. We understand that the gear we sell is the lifeblood of many of the companies that use it. We understand that even if a 5 year old raid is sufficient to the task that it will soon begin to start failing. These are under support and the parts will be replaced quickly, but the potential for a catastrophic failure rises dramatically. Additionally, if we wait until year 6 to start pressing for replacement then it will likely be well into year 7 before it's replaced. In the case of sufficiency, often with newer hardware (raids/SANs & tape libraries specifically) there are substantial performance improvements to tbe had. When a customer grows because of the products we sell they will often come back at some later date and complain of performance issues. We try to spec gear correctly so that there is headroom, but often the customer will not have the budget for the headroom. So if you buy at the low-end you don't have that flexibility moving forward. In other words not all vendors are just trying to squeeze you for more money. Well thought out purchases will likely be useful longer if you plan correcty, even if you're paying more. Additionally, respected integrators with good references can often help you get exactly what you need even if you have no clue. Yes, that's a self-serving plug for my industry, but assuming you get actual customer references and speak with the customer then you should be much better off.

Re:Vendor here: It's not all just crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43722425)

my raid is only a few months old, but I have never been able to get the networking to work on it. must be the bad ether packet clogged up in there.

"hold onto networking infrastructure longer"

Re:Vendor here: It's not all just crap (1)

neonedge (540164) | about a year ago | (#43722771)

I really have no idea what that means but if you're indicating that this post is only about networking gear then that isn't what the post indicated. But I'm really guessing here, as your comment seems to indicate, well, nothing intelligible that I can tell.

Re:Vendor here: It's not all just crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723899)

i have this apple tree and then i have this ipad here, why cant i make juice out of my ipad,

These questions (1)

Mullen (14656) | about a year ago | (#43722501)

All of these Ask Slashdot questions appear to come from a Computer Science freshman class.

Before you buy a piece of hardware, you find out what the "lifetime" is of a piece of hardware and how long it is going to be supported by the vendor. For example, my last job we bought Dell servers, so we investigated that we could get support contracts from Dell for 5 years after purchase. So, we used servers in production for 3 years, and then after that, we would rotate them to another production level function that did not need the latest level of CPU or memory, and then at the end of 5 years, they were rotated to non-production. They stayed in non-prod until they died and we could not easily get parts for the server.

If you depend on something for production, you have to follow the vendor lifetime guidelines. If the vendor does not make it clear what the lifetime is, then don't buy from that vendor.

Management From Fear (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43722517)

"and a customer who contradicts what they're saying may end up shouldering the blame if the equipment goes south. It's the 'you never got fired for buying IBM' argument, applied to the networking space."

Since when has "management based on fear" ever been a good way to run a department?

If you are really so afraid that you will buy expensive equipment that is probably unnecessary in order to keep your job, then either:

(A) you should lose your job, you coward. Or

(B) you are in a toxic workplace and need to find another one right away.

vendors? what about employees? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year ago | (#43722551)

Why are "IT decision makers" listening to anyone outside their organization when it comes to actual decisions?

I'm sorry, but they have many people in their organizations who have informed opinions on equipment - such as the people who have to work with them. Things like, "These NetApps are shit, let's go with someone else" or "we need new switches, these are dropping packets and are totally fabric saturated". Employees tell their bosses this stuff all the time; they know it amongst themselves as well.

What's more, it takes what, 15 minutes to get a feel for how bad a product is online before purchasing it - 30-60 if you don't really know what you're looking for or aren't too familiar with the technology?

Why are purchasing deciders making decisions in a vacuum when there is more than enough information available?

Re:vendors? what about employees? (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | about a year ago | (#43722821)

Because in most cases the "purchasing decider" is actually an over-worked network admin with a real job to do who desperately wishes they could spend 30-60 getting familiar with something.

We upgrade (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43723051)

HP Procurve devices break so often and so frequently that we automatically get upgrades. If we try to send back a shelved device, we just get the next model up.

And it's why we are moving to online services. (1)

zerofoo (262795) | about a year ago | (#43723229)

We recently decommissioned a perfectly good Sonicwall CDP-6080 with 4TB of backup storage. We were only using about half of the device's available storage, and it was plenty fast for our needs, yet Sonicwall/Dell would not renew our service contract for the device. We were simply told to buy the replacement model in the lineup.

At the time (4 years ago), it was one of the few backup appliances that could handle AD/Exchange/SQL/Linux off-site backup and manual external archiving to disk. It was expensive but it fit the bill perfectly, and it wasn't Backup Exec...

Fast forward a few years, and we've put our web server, RDP/SQL farm, and email in the cloud. We figured we would simply keep the CDP appliance as an AD/file server backup device. Since Dell/Sonicwall refused our support renewal, we put our backup in the cloud.

I suspect as cloud services become more popular, hardware vendors will have less leverage in pushing unnecessary hardware upgrades on their clients.

Infrastructure Redundancy = Win (1)

bdwebb (985489) | about a year ago | (#43723323)

Most times it is all about budget. If you can purchase a fully redundant infrastructure environment, you can suffer end-of-life failures and replace those devices with newer equipment, even out of warranty. You also get the benefit of having backup in the event of an infrastructure failure. Ideally, we would all have a fully redundant infrastructure to start with and then periodically rip it all out and replace it with newer/modern equipment after EOL/EOS...the problem is that, in my experience, the new products completely replace the old products within a few years, thus making the choice for you. The best approach you can have IMO, is a staggered one that allows you to operate and use the equipment you have already while improving in critical areas such as your core switching/routing and then staging replacements of less critical resources like edge switches. It goes like this:

Day 1: Purchase initial gear for company and cold standby spares for edge devices if possible

3 years later: Purchase redundant distribution and core infrastructure devices with newer technology as well as approx. 1 edge switch with newer technology for every 5 edge devices. Migrate all critical routing and switching tasks to new infrastructure as the primary path while still allowing failback to the older, redundant architecture (even at a loss of speed...your goal is uptime). Also migrate critical resources at the edge to the newer switches while keeping the older switches as cold standby spares.

3 years later: Completely replace all EOL/EOS distribution and core infrastructure with newer technology and sell the older equipment on eBay. Also purchase edge switch replacements for all devices older than 4 years if possible. The newer switches should be kept as cold standby spares.

The reasoning behind a complete edge switch replacement every 6 years is due to technology improvements (i.e. FastE -> GbE -> 10GbE -> 40GbE -> etc.) This may not be important for all environments and it may not be possible as every 6 years you have a higher expense in edge replacements than any time during the interim. A way around this is to purchase spares or replacements yearly as part of a Capitol Expenditure budget rather than a projects budget requiring approvals.

Ultimately you end up with redundant core infrastructure that is never older than 6 years and with active core infrastructure that is never older than 3 years. Also, you either stagger replacements of edge switches as well as having cold spares or you replace all edge switches every 6 years and still have cold spares in the event of a device failure. You end up keeping up with technology (albeit maybe a year or so behind the 'latest and greatest' depending on budget), you have redundancy in the event that a device is EOL/EOS and cannot be replaced, and you have periodic refreshes of the redundant architecture that keeps your critical services running.

Screw the vendor (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43723603)

Never, ever, ever, listen to the vendor. Remember that when you're talking to them, you're talking to their salesmen. Not their technical lead, not their developers, their salesmen. So many people forget this when they go into these contract negotiations. These people are going to say whatever they can to get you to buy, and they rarely have any idea of what they're talking about.

The details of how long you should expect their product to serve your needs should be explicitly detailed in your contract before you buy. "this equipment/software will work for X years" If they come to you before X years is up and tell you that you need new, then you need to settle up on that old contract that they've just invalidated. If you're beyond what was contractually stipulated, well that's a management call. How important is the application of the product? If it fails, what's the impact? Does it make it harder for people to do their jobs or will you have 2000 people sitting idle until you have it fixed? Also, never sign "their" contract. We have a "contracts" department that writes all of ours, and often have vendors try to force their own contract down our throats. But, we have a company policy that stipulates we NEVER sign with the vendor. The vendor always signs with us. It's our contract, in our words, written by our legal team. If they don't like it there's nothing we can do about it, they cannot do business with us.

But keep in mind, negotiating a new contract when your completely screwed and need it now now now, is not the situation you want to be in. On the same token, if the vendors coming to you when your old systems running great you have a lot of time to haggle and little incentive to hurry the process. I think weather you upgrade is entirely dependent on what the vendor is offering. If it's a good deal and you're in a position to argue for an even better deal then why not? But if everything's running great and the vendors coming to you with some Y2K nonsense and you need to upgrade now at 2x the price of your last upgrade then tell them to shove it.

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