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We know from years of experience that there are many benefits to be gained from purchasing authorised, vendor-backed equipment, particularly when this equipment is compared with products sourced from the grey market. We also know that businesses which are purchasing IT equipment are often looking for two things above all else – quick delivery and a cheap product. The grey market may seem to fit this bill but the bigger picture is much less appealing – an estimated 30% of grey market equipment is counterfeit. Purchasing and using counterfeit equipment leaves users open to criminal prosecution, court action from the genuine vendors and the risk of fines for GDPR non-compliance.

The risk of purchasing from the grey market doesn’t end with the legal and regulatory ramifications. The actual origin of the equipment will be unknown, the software and hardware might have been tampered with in a way which leaves network ports open and unseen security vulnerabilities are a genuine and dangerous possibility.

What we offer the clients we partner with is a one-stop solution to the kind of issues presented by grey market equipment. We develop a plan which enables them to identify grey market equipment within their systems and embark on remediation. This remediation is based on our ability to source vendor-backed equipment from suppliers such as Cisco, IBM, HP and Juniper, all of whom supply discounted lines which – despite the savings – are fully authorised and supplied with warranties. The authorised nature of this supply chain guarantees the safety and security of the products involved, while utilising stock of this kind prolongs the lifecycle of existing assets, which benefits the wider environment, the planet as a whole and the green credentials of our clients and partners.

The challenge.

Audit company network

address grey equipment

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This client operates as a global supplier of managed internet and cloud access services, and in 2014 had taken on a major investment in order to accelerate growth.

One aspect of this investment was an audit of the company network, which consisted of multiple and varied points of presence distributed over more than 20 global sites. During the course of the audit it was discovered that a significant amount of non-authorised equipment was being utilised, and the investors insisted that the presence of this equipment needed to be addressed.

The solution.

Blended solution


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The technical solution which we presented in response to this challenge was based on an understanding that the network itself was a strategic asset. Once the network was viewed through this prism it became only sensible to ensure that it is always maintained with equipment which is authorised and under warranty.

Taking that imperative at face value we worked to create and implement a blended solution incorporating new and Cisco Refresh items which delivered the return on investment the client was looking for.

In addition to this we created a ‘config-as-a-service’ model which facilitated faster and lighter touch delivery of equipment to the premises of end users.

The outcome.

Making full use of the Cisco Refresh programme we were able to supply the client with a full technical solution which included software licensing. The many benefits of Cisco Refresh include the fact that the equipment being supplied as part of a fully authorised remanufactured equipment programme, which means that every item has been checked for quality and functionality

We established a dialogue with the client in order to explain the many risks of buying from the grey market, and to underline the fact that we were able to provide best value for the equipment needed in a risk-free, authorised and vendor-supported manner.

The config-as-a-service model which we established continues to shorten time to revenue, reduce the amount of shipping and speed up the process of switching new services on.

“As the largest European Circular Economy partner to Cisco, Cistor is able to work with clients to help move them from the grey market. Our solutions gave the investors confidence as no risks were taken, and value was provided for the IT team.

We customise solutions for our customers, not the other way around. This client has grown quickly, and it was our job to enable them to focus on their core business- we handled the rest”


Anthony Levy, Founder & CEO Cistor

Next Steps

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