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Wed 13 Aug 2008 06:00 AM

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As good as new - refurbished systems

Middle East enterprises that consider ‘green’ a priority should give refurbished equipment a chance, says Sathya Mithra Ashok.

Refurbished systems are not a new concept. They have been around and have been moving into the mainstream of IT investment and usage since the early years of the decade, especially in the more developed markets of North America and Europe.

The reasons are simple. Refurbished systems are much less expensive than their brand-new counterparts. Moreover, if the process of refurbishing is done the way it rightly should be, the infrastructure can perform at pretty much the same standards as the ones that come straight from the manufacturer.

Refurbished systems also have the advantage of bring ‘greener’ than any new infrastructure enterprises may buy. This is because the true cost of a piece of equipment, is not reflected by what an enterprise is willing to pay for it.

The actual ecological costs consists of several things, including the mining, production, the trash that is created by the production and the fuel burned up in distribution. By buying refurbished systems, the enterprise in question reduces the need for that much new equipment to be manufactured anew, and therefore leaves a positive impact on the environment (a better one than buying any of the new-fangled ‘green’ technologies, ecologists argue).

However, for all its advantages, refurbished systems have yet to catch on in any major fashion in the Middle East. Some of the reasons for this are obvious. For one, in the brand-conscious, cash rich region, many people view refurbished systems as second-hand systems of bad quality.

Many enterprises believe that investing in these systems can prove to be a foolish choice, since these systems will not be able to function at the same levels, or for the same time periods, as brand-new equipment, though this is not necessarily true. (For more information on the state of refurbished systems in the Middle East, please read the October issue of NME.)

Other reasons are not so obvious. Like the fact that many vendors in the region do not consciously offer enterprises the choice of refurbished systems. Even those who are getting on the ‘green’ bandwagon as fast as they can, rarely mention that these systems are the ‘greener’ choice by far.

Most vendors do not market these systems at all in the region; even those who have partnerships with recovery specialists, and even have resellers dealing with refurbished systems, do not mention them as choices to enterprise customers. Almost all refurbished systems in the Middle East are transported to other markets, principally Africa, where there is a need for cheaper equipment.

This is the prevailing condition in the Middle East. However, enterprise customers do have the power to change it.

Organisations which are really interested in going ‘green’, which are really conscious about how their purchase and use of IT equipment will affect the larger environment should push vendors to give them information on refurbished systems.

They should remain open-minded to the very-real possibility that infrastructure refurbished in the right manner can deliver the same performance and reliability as new equipment. Of course, they will need to put the system through due diligence and the normal testing process before making investment decisions. However, even a step taken towards considering refurbished systems more often, is a step in the right direction towards going truly ‘green.’

There is no doubt that Middle East enterprises have to push vendors into giving them the choice of refurbished systems, especially if they want to go green and cut costs in the process. However, the question remains, how many end-users will be willing to put in the effort, and how long is it going to take before refurbished systems become mainstream in the Middle East?

Share your thoughts on green computing and refurbished systems by writing to me at sathya.ashok@itp.com.

Sathya Mithra Ashok is the editor of Network Middle East.

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