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Cisco offers gear trade-ins, incentives

Aging equipment and advancing technologies have fueled the need for network upgrades. A program offered by Cisco hopes to ease the financial pain of the transition.

It's getting time to replace that networking gear scooped up in a frenzied scramble to prepare for Y2K.

Cisco Systems Inc. is offering an incentive program to resellers and users for upgrading existing equipment. Called the Foundation Advantage for Partners program, partners can offer their customers and clients upgrades at discounted rates based on trade-ins, rewards and other incentives. For the first time, Cisco is also offering trade-in credits for equipment from competing vendors.

"We've put together a program that helps our partners and end [users] upgrade their networks," said John Growdon, director of routing and switching technology sales and programs for Cisco's worldwide channels.

Growdon said Cisco users will experience savings as they plan for network upgrades, which are becoming necessary since most customers have not upgraded their networks with new technology since preparation for Y2K or the Internet bubble of the late 1990s. During those times network spending met with a serious decline.

"We have a lot of aging Y2K equipment out there," he said. "There was a large amount of equipment purchased in a short period of time."

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Other factors driving the need for technology upgrades, Growdon said, is the strong focus on network security and the need for increased bandwidth.

"What customers want out of their network today is not what they planned for five or six years ago," he said. "Routers and switches are changing more, they have more features and capabilities."

Ken Presti, channel research director at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the program will help corporations build an infrastructure to support advancements in technologies.

"As customers move toward advanced technology, for example, VoIP and the technology that goes along with that, they're looking at spending vast sums of money," he said. "This gives them some financial benefit and helps them build the case for upgrades."

Presti agreed that a lot of businesses are closing in on the need to upgrade, based on age of equipment and new technologies. He said oftentimes, old equipment can become temperamental and a lot of data today is latency sensitive.

"It makes sense to do these upgrades and swap out the old equipment," he said. "With this program, you can do that in one shot or break it down into phases. Based on budgets and needs, you can get your ducks in a row.

Presti continued: "This will ultimately help partners not only sell the technologies, but also to segment the solutions into smaller, sequential projects that are more in-line with their customers' budgets."

Along with the incentives, Cisco also rolled out Cisco Discovery software, a profiling tool that lets partners examine their customers' networks and see exactly what's there, how long it's been there and whether it is still supported. The software, Growdon said, gives customers an in-depth understanding of all network hardware, Cisco and non-Cisco, which will also help plan for upgrades.

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