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Here is an article from Investor's Business Daily that compares and contrasts the different memory available for Cisco Equipment.
Cisco-Approved Memory Chips Can Have Unforgettable Prices
Quite High, Some SayNetworking company resells certain chips for its routers, switches
BY MIKE ANGELL
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
The prices for most computer memory chips have fallen dramatically. That is, unless they are memory chips approved by Cisco Systems Inc.
The data networking firm doesn't make memory chips. But it does sell Cisco-approved memory and other accessories for its line of switches and routers.
While customers like Cisco's switches and routers just fine, many of them balk at Cisco-approved memory chips and accessories.
Despite Cisco's stamp of approval on the quality and performance of its after-market components, users say third-party Equivalent chips work just as well and are cheaper.
Moreover, many customers see the high prices for after-market components as a way to squeeze more profit from them.
Price differences exist for other types of memory chips.
Third-party flash memory costs $60 while the Cisco-approved model costs $350.
At Pacific Custom Cable in Auburn, Wash., Cisco-approved memory for its largest router costs $1,650.
An Equivalent amount of off-the-shelf memory costs $270.
The price differences also include power supplies and cables.
Cisco was unavailable to comment.
Dave Maher, of Pacific Custom Cable, says Cisco-approved memory prices are higher because there's only a handful of approved manufacturers. Those manufacturers include Solectron's SmartModular Technologies, Sanmina-SCI's Viking Components unit and Samsung.
Price Big For Small Users
"Customers are only concerned about when they will get it, and will it work." Maher said. "Qualitywise our products are as good as or better than the Cisco approved."
Like Griffin, Maher says many of his customers are students learning networking, network engineers or small businesses that can't afford expensive memory. In some cases, third-party memory is all that's available for older models of switches and routers.
Maher and Griffin also sell to service providers and Fortune 500 companies.
They usually buy Cisco-approved memory due to concerns over the reliability or availability of third party memory.
"In a mission-critical environment, you can't wait a week for a chip to come in," Griffin said."Cisco-approved memory is still viable for larger companies."
Leslie Doan, a saleswoman at ... says her customers prefer Cisco-approved memory.
She says approved-memory chips can fit into more types of Cisco products than third-party memory chips.
"The approved stuff is a little more pricey than the third party," Doan said. "But the compatibility rate for third party is lower."
... Griffin says Cisco started getting tougher on the use of third-party memory. Cisco sales reps used to distribute a list of approved and third-party vendors. But Griffin says the list was pulled in October.
Memory vendors don't make it easy to find less expensive memory modules either.
Griffin says SmartModular, one of the suppliers of Cisco's memory chips, has different catalogs for Cisco-approved and generic chips. The model numbers in each catalog can't be cross-referenced for approved and third-party modules.
The only time Cisco could find out if nonapproved memory was in one of its products was if a Cisco technician looked inside a switch or router while repairing it.
By federal law, companies can't force customers to use only approved accessories.
Warranties are valid regardless of what after-market components are
"Customers are only concerned about when they will get it, and will it work. Qualitywise, our products are as good or better then the Cisco approved."
Dabe Maher, Pacific Custom Cable
used, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Cisco could balk at repairing a switch, or router, Maher says, by blaming any problems with gear on third-party memory or accessories.
Maher hasn't heard of Cisco refusing to repair equipment due to use of third-party accessories. Nor has he heard of any problems in Cisco gear due to use of third-party memory.
Some Cisco employees buy third-party chips when they need to boost memory in the equipment they use outside their jobs. Griffin says even with the in-house discount Cisco employees get on memory, his prices are better.