Buyer's Manual for Purchasing Networking Equiptment

By Catherine Hensley
Updated: July 19, 2011

Whether it’s wireless or traditional telephony equipment, software upgrades, or additional security features, there’s a lot to consider when purchasing networking equipment. From cost considerations to training with new tools, the buying process can quickly become overwhelming. If your business needs to purchase networking equipment, use this buyer’s manual to help guide you through the process.

Important Features

The first and most important step in purchasing networking equipment for a business is identifying the essential features that must be obtained. New or expanding companies will likely be looking for large packages of equipment, while older businesses may just need software or hardware upgrades. Equipment options include basic telephones, wireless tools like routers, security software, optical and video technologies, and WAN optimization software, just to name a few. Buying unnecessary or unwanted equipment or software packages wastes money and can even result in reduced productivity, as employees must devote time and resources to managing the extra features.

Cost Evaluation

Determining your company’s budget for networking equipment is a vital part of the purchasing process. Allotting for training time and both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of new equipment is important as well. If your budget is low, many companies, including Cisco, offer used and refurbished equipment for sale ( These items are usually certified by the company reselling them and are often in “like new” condition. Warranties can also be obtained.

Vendor Evaluation

Some vendors of networking equipment specialize in a particular area, such as wireless or WAN. Others offer many different types of networking tools. An example of a “single-source” vendor is Riverbed, a company that specializes in WAN optimization products and services. Cisco, on the other hand, is a “multi-vendor” company, offering a myriad of networking products. Each type of vendor has its advantages and disadvantages. A single-source vendor, for instance, will offer highly specialized and refined technology and services, though the price may sometimes be higher than that offered for the same feature by a multi-vendor company. It’s up to the business owner to decide which to go with.

Purchasing new or even just upgrading networking equipment is a significant investment for business owners. Staying connected internally and with partners and clients in other locations is crucial for the success of a company, so choosing the right networking equipment is a serious task. Make sure you first identify which features are absolutely essential to operating your business. Then determine the cost constraints and evaluate possible vendors before buying anything. These simple steps will keep you on the right track to buying the best and most effective networking equipment for your business.

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