Use of refurbished (actually retired) server hardware is very common in industry. Common reason is their lesser prices as compare to new server. Refurbished hardware is purchases in market without any research.  Unfortunately people do not consider other features and technology which play extremely important role, specially performance and reliability. Moreover people also do not perform complete research on new available server model in market which have very less price. In my experience, the used or refurbished hardware result in just money lost in the end. Here is the explanation.

If we check the price of 1TB SATA DISK for personal use desktop, it will cost us approx. 6000 PKR with market warranty trend. But if we purchased the same disk for server class system, it will cost almost 35,000 PKR. But if you do more technical research, you will find the same volume capacity and RPM hard disk with more prices in the form for standard and enterprise classifications in server class hardware. This price difference is because the media used to store data in hard disk. The hard disk manufacturer use specific material for data store media in hard disk as per required workload (Read, Write) and thus price it accordingly. Hard disk for personal use desktop is cheap because the media used in this hard disk is for personal level workload. But the same volume and rpm hard disk will have different price for server class hardware due to their specific workloads. Same logic work for RAM as well.  With passage of time and utilization of hard disk and RAM, there performance decreases specially in write intensive workloads.  Extreme data write on hard disk media, changed its chemical state as well as decrease the mechanical parts performance. This is the key reason the hardware servers are completely disposed of in developed countries’ IT infrastructures after passing their defined life as they do not wait for failure. These servers are collected as garbage and sent into third world countries for sale in unit of containers. Unfortunately people purchase these retired server and try to run mission critical applications.

These retired servers are basically become more costly and risky for business critical data.  Their hard disks and RAMs are almost at dead level stage specially if we consider them in reference of performance. Moreover their price is also very high as compare to their features with new servers at that time. I have many examples in which companies purchased used server between 100k to 150k PKR but they can purchase new server with more good specs for 225k PKR with 3 year warranty. I recently purchase many new servers for my organization which cost us price between 250k to 350K PKR with all required features.

Worries not end here, if you decide to purchase new servers. Purchasing a new server is not an easy work in Pakistan. So called new server sellers, took the order from customer for new servers. They order just main server chaise from principle vendor like HP, DELL, LENOVO etc. once the server chaise is arrived, they purchased used material like processors, RAMs and hard disk from local market and install it in new server chaise and sent to customer.

To avoid these frauds, all principle like HP, DELL, LENOVO have classified the vendors in different tiers levels. The start tier level is distribution or distributor which is very easy and every simple computer shop person can apply and achieved. This is called Tier level 3 partners.  Tier 3 level partners are basically laptop, desktop level product seller but they can also sell server products. There are no restrictions imposed on partners by principal. Most fraud in server products occurred at this level. Never purchase server from tier level 3 partners if you are not sure about his credibility.

Second level of Partner is Tier 2. At this level principle company imposed some restrictions on partners to have proper certified skilled resources and sale persons. Purpose of these restrictions is to maintain proper technical and sales resources for required products. This level of partner can sell entry to mid-range servers and can provide support on those products if required by customers.

The last and most favorite one is Tier-1 level. Tier 1 level partners have complete set of required technical resources for servers and storage like complex products. They mostly work on complete solutions for mission critical datacenters. Purchasing from Tier-1 partners is complete trouble free job.

Purchasing from tier 1 level partner does not mean that they will be costly or expensive. They charged their discounts from principal to maintain good quality of services for their products and services. Moreover the name and partnership level is always available online on principal vendors online lists.

Principal also introduced another option for server purchase to avoid part replacement fraud. This is called “Configure and assemble in factory and directly shipped to customer” . This option mean that the server will be completely  assembled in manufacturing factory and directly shipped to customer so that no one will open the server box in shipment process.  This is also safe option for server purchase.

In last, I will suggest you to go always with new purchase for electronics products because all electronics products have their defined life which is approx. 3 years max in general.

I hope this article is very informative for IT people specially related to purchase. Please feel free if you required any further information in this context.

Rizwan Islam

Technology Architect