I believe that one of the most serious but easily preventable problems facing end users is the disruption that arises from use of unauthorised products in the network.
By unauthorised products I mean anything bought from anyone other than approved channel distributors or resellers. This includes the grey market, new products imported to the UK outside official distribution, and second-hand or non-manufacturer-refurbished items.
Manufacturers can at any time choose to withdraw support for such hardware or software.
Resellers should be cautious when offered heavily discounted product or anything of uncertain origin.
It invalidates the warranty as well as the software end user licence. So when something goes wrong and the customer seeks technical assistance from the manufacturer, the vendor is within its rights to refuse support or insist that the customer buys a new license.
Network services partners should verify the origin of your customer’s equipment with the manufacturer – which they should be able to do if you provide the serial numbers.
Resellers and their partners must be able to identify migration paths to replace any non-genuine parts.
Unauthorised channels may also be more likely to supply counterfeit product.
Occasionally, we will respond to a service incident for a seemingly genuine part, only to later discover that the hardware is a clone or the firmware has been illegally upgraded.
We recently helped a customer who had performed a software upgrade that had left the appliance non-operational. It transpired that the software had been supplied by an unauthorised reseller and was an illegal copy.
This case was referred to the manufacturer to ensure compliance with its brand protection policies. The network was restored but with an inevitable delay, but the end user had learned a hard lesson.
Knowing that the network is legitimately supported not only gives peace of mind to partners and customers but also ensures that problems can be addressed as quickly as possible.
Ed Bullock is a pricing analyst at Networks First
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