As a networking hardware user or network admin, you may not even know
how to get started in looking at buying used Cisco. I’ve compiled this
resource to shed some light on the second hand market for Cisco
Who are the main players in the used cisco market?
- Cisco Authorized VARs Cisco’s authorized channel partners have access to Cisco’s pool of
refurbished Cisco gear. If you’re currently buying new hardware from a
partner then you can also buy certified Cisco refurb gear from these
This pool is limited to what Cisco currently has available (typically
much less than the open market) and discounts aren’t always that great,
but the product is certified by Cisco.
Cisco Authorized Refurbished equipment (aka “Cisco reman”) is
immediately eligible for maintenance and includes all of the typical
licensing. Packaging is similar to new Cisco except that it will include
stickers signifying that the hardware has been factory refurbished.
- Independent Cisco Resellers AKA brokers, dealers or remarketers.These resellers
are not authorized to sell new Cisco, but instead sell equipment that
they’ve acquired via lease returns, liquidations or end-user
trade-ins.Inventories can far exceed what you’ll find in Cisco’s pool
and pricing is much, much lower than new in most cases (up to 90% off
new).Used Cisco from independent resellers will include a warranty (from
the reseller), but typically has to be recertified by Cisco and
licenses need to be acquired in most cases to legally use the equipment
and place it under maintenance. Packaging is normally equivalent to new
quality, but is sent in plain brown boxes and anti-static bags rather
than Cisco labeled packaging.Buyer’s choose independent resellers of
used Cisco for benefits such as immediate availability and of course the
Our firm, Vibrant Technologies, fits in this category. (Request a quote)
- Auction Sellers, User to User and Scrap resellers Individual
Cisco users bring their wares directly to market via auction sites or
forums such as eBay, Craigslist and Yahoo Auctions.There is a growing
amount of Cisco equipment on these sites, but most of the listers seem
to be resellers, not users. You’ll also find a lot of scrap resellers
who can’t test the equipment and in other cases – outright scammers.
Prices are all over the board.Quality, trust and support are serious
concerns here. You want to be sure you don’t get bad equipment or
completely scammed. Packaging can really leave something to be desired.
We’ve seen actual popcorn (buttery!) used in place of packing peanuts
and deli meat bags used to pack memory. Not to mention that the boxes
are so thin that it’s amazing more products don’t get damaged.
How soon do Cisco Routers and Switches become available Used?
2-3 Months after a product has been released new, you can typically find it used.
This may come as a surprise to some who assume you can only find 2nd or 3rd generation hardware used.
Due to bankruptcies, mistaken purchases, or demo units, it is possible to find the latest and greatest as well as EOL equipment.
Is Used Cisco the same as Gray Market Cisco?
No, Gray Market product is equipment that has been purchased new from
another country in order to be sold in a region where the manufacturer
charges more for it. Used Cisco hardware is just previously used
equipment given a second life.
If a used Cisco reseller offers you “new Cisco” it is likely gray
market product. In some cases, product is available in
new/sealed/retail condition from resellers or at auction, because the
end-user never got around to opening the item. These products should be
referred to as “unused” instead of “new” since ownership has transferred.
Both Used Cisco and “Grey market” hardware is legal to buy and sell in the United States, as upheld in the recent Kirtsaeng v Wiley US Supreme Court decision. The First Sale Doctrine basically allows that if you bought it, you own it – and you have the right to resell it.
Laws may vary by country. For example, the European Union
generally restricts the resale of products (used or new) that were
originally intended for anywhere outside the EU. In order to resell a
branded product in that region, it must be from that region, not
For Vibrant, this limits our exports to Europe, but otherwise we
don’t face many other restrictions internationally beyond the
usual import tariffs.
What condition of equipment should I expect from Used Cisco hardware?
Just because you’re purchasing used equipment, you shouldn’t have to
settle for low quality. Cisco reman and used Cisco gear acquired from
legitimate brokers is typically in similar condition to what is
currently in your datacenter. Occasionally dealers will offer further
discounts on “ugly-duckling” equipment that functions, but has some
scratches or dings. You should be informed of any imperfections
At Vibrant, we like to think of your networking equipment as basic plumbing.
It’s not that hard to get it right, and you don’t want to spend a lot
of money on it. We help companies save money on their infrastructure,
so they can invest in what really matters – people and applications that
drive ROI for your business.
How are prices set on the used market?
The used Cisco market is an open market where equipment is traded as a
second-hand commodity. Prices rise and fall based on perceived
availability and demand in the marketplace. The best way to compare
prices is to do so against other resellers because comparing against
list is completely arbitrary.
Depending on the model or feature, discounts can range from 30 to 90% off list. See “List Prices and Discounts for Used IT Hardware.”
When is the best time to buy?
Give yourself time to check out all of your options, but also know
that used resellers can typically ship overnight if you’re in a pinch.
End of month, end of quarter and end of year are great times to buy as
sales reps aim to meet their quotas.
How do I confirm that I’m working with a quality reseller?
- Do your due diligence. Check references, confirm years in business,etc…
- Check associations. Find out if they’re members of industry associations like UNEDA or ASCDI or if they’re in the BBB.
- Get a warranty. Any quality reseller should offer warranties. End-user
clients often get 90day to one year warranties on used Cisco (from the
reseller). Make sure you get at least 90days.
- Ask Questions. Find out if the reseller has Cisco certified techs and
ask about recertification, licensing and manufacturer/reseller pre-sales
and post-sales support policies.
- Get Credit Terms (if you can). Corporations of any decent size should
be able to negotiate payment terms of up to 30 days.This basically gives
you the opportunity to try before you buy. If the equipment doesn’t
meet your standards, you can return it without trying to recover your
Who buys Used Cisco?
Fortune 500s and SMBs alike. Individuals, resellers, government agencies and manufacturers, too.
I’ve personally had countless conversations where somebody says they
would never buy used, but then we talk about certain scenarios and they
see a fit. Test environments, disaster recovery, training labs, trade
shows, etc… Once they see the quality, support and savings, we normally
flow into a production scenario from there.
And even those who don’t buy used Cisco end up finding value in
having a Used Cisco reseller like Vibrant to sell their excess or
decommissioned equipment to. We can offer you cash to save on your next
investment and usually beat any trade-in offers from the manufacturer
Please contact us if you have Networking, Storage or Server hardware to sell.
Should you consider used Cisco?
You have to decide for yourself, but it is definitely worth getting a
quote or two so that you can make an informed decision. Some users
start with training or demo hardware and then move to development or
production units as they gain confidence in refurb quality and savings.
For more information, please email email@example.com or call 952-653-1700.
(this article was originally published at Network World’s Cisco Subnet and has been updated for 2013)