Network equipment lead times to remain painfully long into 2023: Gartner

Jump the queue by spending more with one player or thinking outside the box

Gartner has asserted that lead times for new networking equipment will remain long until early in the year 2023, and thereafter display "slow incremental improvement over the course of months."

The analyst firm offered that grim forecast last week in a document, obtained by The Register, titled "What Are My Options for Dealing With Long Lead Times on Network Equipment?"

Gartner reckons you have five options.

One is to get yourself to the front of vendors' queues by spending more money with one supplier.

"Vendors are not operating on a first-in-first-out concept for orders," the document states. If you're wiling to place big orders, you may therefore find yourself closer to the head of a queue.

Gartner advises buyers not to assume that all vendors have the same supply chain challenges, so while going all-in with a new vendor has challenges it's also a way to seize the opportunity presented by those companies that have managed their affairs well.

Another suggestion is to look for capacity you're not using. Gartner estimates that 25 per cent or more of campus switch ports are not used – sometimes as a conscious overprovisioning decision. The analyst firm suggests 10 to 15 per cent of switching capability may be recoverable, albeit after the pain of rewiring, network changes, and downtime.

Thinking outside the box is another option. Gartner reckons some networking workloads can be sent to the cloud or run on x86 servers.

Second-hand kit is also on the table, with the analyst firm noting that Cisco and HPE/Aruba sell certified used kit on lead times that can be mere days or weeks. Used kit may have a scratch or two, but it's certified and fully supported.

Gartner's last suggestion is sweating the kit you’ve already got. If that means paying for extended support, prepare for a stern chat with your vendor – seeing as they can't get you new stuff any time soon. ®

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