Over the past six months, multiple global crises have impaired how multinational businesses manage their IT infrastructure, namely:
- A shortage in semiconductor chips and other critical components is causing a delay in manufacturing. We’ve seen supply pushed out four to six months (or more).
- A backlog in ocean freight and trucking networks are further impeding standard delivery timelines for hardware.
To ensure that critical business operations continue, we’ve seen some of our clients, typically network engineers, get creative with alternative sourcing strategies, like purchasing refurbished or remanufactured hardware and rebalancing existing inventories between offices and data centers. Engineering and IT procurement teams, out of necessity, now need to double as logisticians, which gets much more complicated when infrastructure has to move internationally. For example, to move infrastructure between DCs, they likely have to manage everything from packing and crating, booking shipments, filing documentation, paying duties and taxes, booking last mile transportation, and managing the smart hands installation–not to mention serving as the internal project manager for this whole process, which is probably the hardest part.
But for those who are looking to take a more hands on approach, below are several key aspects to keep in mind.
Properly Manage IT Inventory (Warehousing)
Supply chain delays are the new normal. When you’re moving infrastructure across borders, it’s more efficient to ship your IT hardware all together, because it takes advantage of fixed costs and minimums. However, supply chain delays are causing IT hardware to arrive in separate batches instead of all at once and sometimes, even months apart. It’s a problem because over the time span, while you wait for everything to arrive, you might lose track of what you have. So, you should look for a logistics partner who has the capability to hold your shipments as they arrive based on your needs. For example, FGX receives equipment as it is shipped by each manufacturer and our clients can decide whether or not they want to ship out a subset of their available inventory or wait for everything to arrive. As of the date of this article, we’ve even extended our storage on international orders to be free of charge for up to 6 months in consideration of OEM supply-chain issues.
Do Your Due Diligence before Shipping
When your IT procurement team is planning the infrastructure needs of a particular site, it’s critical they understand the various rules and regulations governing the importation and taxation of IT equipment. For example, many countries like China, India, and Vietnam ban the importation of used equipment outright and others like Brazil, Argentina, or Peru, require special permits for used/refurbished equipment. We’ve seen so many companies buy refurbished or used equipment just to find out that they can’t even ship it.
Before your engineering team makes concrete plans to purchase gear, it’s critical they’re aware of what types of equipment are permitted. At the time of writing this, one of our clients is looking to set up shop in India, and before they even have purchased any gear, they reached out to us regarding what it takes to import their build into the country—which is great for planning because companies don’t ship exactly the same thing. For example, this client needs to ship 3D scanners into India and to meet their deadline, we have to obtain compliance certificates that take months to process. By doing their due diligence months ahead of time, they can make sure that their deadline isn’t upended by something they didn’t account for.
Ensure Proper Packaging
It’s never been more important to pack your infrastructure properly. A single improperly packed box can result in equipment being damaged.
Depending on the equipment and its size, weight, and value, decide on whether you can pack it yourself by buying materials from a company like ULINE or if you should hire a professional. The general rule is that the higher the equipment’s value and importance to the project, the more you should lean towards hiring a professional packer. Even moving seemingly robust equipment like pre-racked datacenter cabinets should be custom-crated. Crating is relatively expensive when you compare it to packaging it yourself, but it’s worth it. And because we’re in a time of constraint, finite assets that are already in your possession are even more valuable, so be generous with your packaging budget.
If you’re an engineer and didn’t already feel like a logistician or project manager, it’s time to get comfortable. As the global supply chain for IT equipment continues to recover post-pandemic, finding creative solutions to procure, configure, and deliver will be a competitive advantage for infrastructure teams and thus their broader business.