3rd party components

18 Jan 3rd Party Components & Vendor Warranty

It is no secret that most IT companies currently uses or has future plans to start using 3rd party optical transceivers – because of simple fact that they are much more budgetary than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) optical transceivers. Doubts of using OEM hardware or 3rd party hardware are based on assumption that 3rd party hardware will void OEM device warranty and support. Here we will look at most popular network equipment manufacturer warranty policies, and their void factors.

Cisco:

The Cisco policy for support and warranty services for the use of third-party memory, cables, or gigabit interface controllers (GBICs) is as follows: When a customer reports a product fault or defect and Cisco believes the fault or defect can be traced to the use of a third-party memory product, cable, or GBIC installed by a customer or reseller, then, at Cisco's discretion, Cisco may withhold support under warranty or a Cisco support program such as SmartNet™ service. When a product fault or defect occurs in the network, and Cisco concludes that the fault or defect is not attributable to the use of third-party memory, cables, or GBICs installed by a customer or reseller, Cisco will continue to provide support for the affected product under warranty or covered by a Cisco support program. The nature of the defect or error is the key to determining Cisco support obligations. Should you require additional Cisco memory, cables, and GBICs for your Cisco networking products, please contact Cisco sales or Cisco authorized resellers. Customers that choose to install or use third-party memory, cables, or GBICs do so at their own risk. Cisco also reserves the right to charge the customer per then current time and material rates for services provided to the customer when Cisco determines, after having provided such services, that the root cause of the defective product was caused by a third party vendor supplied product.

From Cisco policy we can conclude two things:

1. If fault or equipment defect is caused by 3rd party hardware product – withhold warranty support;
2. If fault or equipment defect is not caused by 3rd party hardware product – Cisco provides warranty support.

In case if you use a third-party transceiver and it leads to actual damage Cisco may, at their discretion, refuse warranty support. The warranty support is witholded until merely suspected third party transceiver is replaced with original Cisco transceiver.

Juniper:

Juniper Networks is not obligated to provide services for any of the following: 1) Third-party devices (hardware, software cabling, etc.) not provided by Juniper Networks or Problems associated with or arising directly or indirectly from such components; 2) Problems with Product that have been installed by any party other than (A) Juniper Networks or (B) a party authorized by Juniper Networks 3) Problems relating to incompatibility of the Product with third-party devices;

From Juniper Networks policy we understand that they will not provide support services for third party devices which are not provided by Juniper Networks – that’s quite logical. But if problems are caused by these third party devices, for example transceivers then Juniper Networks can refuse support service – until transceivers are swapped to original ones.

Alcatel Lucent (Now Nokia):

Alcatel-Lucent shall not have an obligation to repair or replace any product or correct any software if: a. the product has been modified, repaired or reworked by anyone other than Alcatel-Lucent, or b. the Defect is the result of any use of the Product in conjunction with another non-certified , or non-OEM Recommended product;

If equipment defect is the result of using non-certified or non-OEM Recommended product, then Alcatel Lucent not have an obligation to repair or replace equipment or correct any software. Defect is result of something gone very badly. Can 3rd party transceivers go bad and cause serious defect in device?

Brocade:

In order to ensure proper operation of Brocade products, it is required that all Brocade systems utilize only Brocade supplied optical transceiver components. Brocade reserves the right to void warranty and service support offerings if optical transceiver components other than those supplied by Brocade are used in the operation of Brocade products.

Brocades position is very strict. If other vendor optical transceiver is discovered in Brocade branded device, then Brocade has the right to void warranty. It is not mentioned that only defect caused by 3rd party transceiver will cause warranty void, but instead more strictly that only other manufacturer transceiver existence in Brocade device will void warranty.

HP:

This HP Limited Warranty does not apply to expendable or consumable parts, with the exception of HP printing supplies and certain rechargeable batteries as specified below, and does not extend to any HP Hardware Product from which the serial number has been removed or that has been damaged or rendered defective by software, interfacing, parts or supplies not supplied by HP; HP is not responsible for any interoperability or compatibility issues that may arise when products, software, or options not supported by HP are used;

If HP equipment is got defective because of using 3rd party hardware, then HP Limited Warranty does not apply.

Dell:

DELL:What is covered by this limited hardware warranty? - This limited hardware warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship in your Dell-branded hardware products, including Dell-branded peripheral products. What is not covered by this limited hardware warranty? - Using accessories, parts or components not supplied by Dell & Commercial hardware products that use, or in which have been installed, products or components that have not been provided by Dell. How long does this limited hardware warranty last? This limited hardware warranty may be voided by Dell, at Dell's sole discretion, if third party products that were not provided by Dell are installed on your Dell system.

Conclusion:

Comparing some of the biggest network equipment vendor warranty policies we see that most of them have similar rules on using 3rd party optical transceivers. If problems are caused by 3rd party optical transceivers, then warranty support will be refused until optical transceivers are changed to OEM ones. In the mean while if defect to vendor’s equipment is caused by 3rd party optical transceiver (and it is proved by vendor) then warranty can also be voided.

So, this leads to biggest question – Does 3rd party transceivers ensures the same working and quality standards as OEM optical transceivers?

Absolutely yes! Because 3rd party optical transceivers are manufactured and assembled in the same factories where OEM branded ones are. And largest part of optical transceivers is manufactured mostly at China. Optical transceivers are standardized by SFP Multi source agreement which is subset of Small Form Factor (SFF) specifications which can be freely obtained at ftp://ftp.seagate.com/sff/ . This means everyone can manufacture and supply optical transceivers.

As a result there is absolutely no difference in hardware for official branded transceiver and reliable 3rd party optical transceiver, as much as four or ten times cost difference. The performance is the same because all manufacturers follow same rules same standards.

Optical transceivers in general are very basic technology. They are destined to be like that because they are mostly driven by laser which is active component and has fixed longevity. When laser gets out of shape, optical transceiver is easily exchangeable to new one. As a result there is no reason for OEM transceivers to be more costly compared to similar 3rd party transceivers. As well they don’t have any much options damaging device where they are used. In our personal experience our company have delivered tens of thousands optical transceivers in previous years, and we have never met a technical problem when optical transceiver does some hardware based damage to device where it is used. 3rd party SFPs can be as reliable as official OEM products.

If there is no real difference between OEM transceivers and 3rd party transceivers, then why network equipment vendors has such strict warranty policies?

That is because network equipment manufacturers has to make money. They will use all available resources to sell more of their production. So they make warranty policies which psychologically affects their customers, making them think that there will problems (warranty void) if they will use other vendor equipment’s (transceivers) in their OEM devices.

If we look at legislation than in United States there is a law which prohibits warranty void only because your customer uses other vendor’s equipment which is analogue to original vendors equipment. Voiding of a warranty in this situation would be violating what is defined in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 (15 United States Code section 2302(c)) as a “Tie-In Sales” provision.

Of course the OEM switch manufacturer’s warranty would not cover any 3rd party transceiver deployed in their devices. Sometimes OEM vendors try to exaggerate this as if it is an odd, difficult or exceptional issue. The truth is a typical network is composed of many devices from many different manufacturers, with each device supported by its manufacturer’s warranty.



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