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Curvature growing network support services with CSU buy

Used network hardware and maintenance vendor Curvature acquired CSU Industries to expand its NetSure support services to storage and servers.

Curvature has acquired CSU Industries to expand its refurbished hardware sales and third-party maintenance and...

support portfolio.

Curvature's purchase of CSU, based in Inwood, N.Y., will allow it to broaden its network support services focus -- which was concentrated on networking and data center gear -- to server and storage components, the company said

The move caps off a strategy to diversify Curvature's business from one primarily engaged with reselling used equipment to one built around maintenance and managed services, said Mike Sheldon, CEO and president. Step one was casting off the old Network Hardware Resale moniker, which Curvature did last summer. Step two is growing the company's NetSure maintenance and support service, which now counts more than 2,000 global customers, most of whom use it as an alternative to Cisco's SmartNet network support services. The CSU acquisition will add another 1,000 corporate customers -- which predominantly rely on CSU to handle maintenance of their non-Wintel servers and storage devices -- to the fold.

Acquisition will expand NetSure to new markets

"We began adding servers and storage a few years ago, but most of that was limited to x86 servers," said Sheldon, explaining the rationale behind the purchase of CSU. "It became clear that it was also important to support HP and IBM and Linux and Unix and then moving into NetApp and EMC. We couldn't do that organically, so about a year ago we began to search for a company that had the expertise." CSU, he said, will fill that gap and permit Curvature to extend NetSure to new markets.

I think it's long overdue that customers started to look outside their traditional modes of procurement.
Andre KindnessForrester Research

Cleveland-based Sisters of Charity Health System has used Curvature for the past two years to provide refurbished equipment and maintenance support to corral costs, said Paul Jones, the organization's chief technical officer. "Like a lot of healthcare organizations, my mission is to reduce costs, not just in Opex but in any type of Capex," he said. The healthcare provider now uses refurbished switches and routers throughout facilities it operates in Ohio and South Carolina, and is in the process of extending NetSure to cover core routing equipment as its current Cisco SmartNet contracts expire. By using Curvature, Jones said he's been able to cut his maintenance and support services price tag by almost 50%.

"What we are doing with the network, we put [Cisco] 3750x switches at the edge, and they are going to be just fine," Jones said. "We don't have a need to run 40 or 100 gig at core -- 10 gig is just fine. Now, will that change? Yes, if we begin running different apps that are more intensive." But for now, Sisters of Charity can meet its networking demands with refurbished equipment, he said.

In addition to purchasing used equipment, Sisters of Charity uses Curvature's technical support and consultation services. To that end, Curvature is currently helping Sisters of Charity redesign the network it operates at Providence Hospital in Columbia, S.C., and the vendor is also assessing Sisters of Charity's Cleveland hospital network, Jones said.

Use of refurbished equipment losing stigma

Enterprises are taking a fresh look at deploying refurbished equipment within their data centers and using third-party network support services to maintain them, said Andre Kindness, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "The networking or IT industry as a whole hasn't really valued used equipment. I've noticed since the 2008 downturn that companies are keeping their equipment longer," he said. "With large vendors like Cisco putting some of their products on an end of life list [such as the Cisco Catalyst 3750G, 3560G, 3750-E, and 3560-E series switches], you are starting to see companies ask, 'What are my alternatives? At this time, my company can't afford to switch out all of my network for new products just because a few failed, and I can't replace those ones with exact same ones.' I think it's long overdue that customers started to look outside their traditional modes of procurement."

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