Most mainframe owners are directed to the IBM company to source their mainframe peripherals. However, this is not the only option for sourcing mainframe peripherals, and in some cases, alternative sources may be the better option.

Moreover, if your IBM mainframe peripherals approaching end-of-life (EOL), you can no longer rely on IBM either for repair or support. Buying  mainframe peripherals can be very expensive. Consider switching to a third-party vendor before your peripherals are EOL.

Read on to learn more:

OEM vs. Third-party

Every computer, mainframe, and piece of technology needs maintenance, optimization, and upgrades. If you run the big iron for data computing, then you know it is crucial to stay up-to-date on its maintenance schedule and ensure part compatibility throughout.

If you continually run maintenance on your systems directly through IBM, this is expensive. And, if your peripherals are EOL, it’s no longer possible. Direct OEM peripherals are expensive, and continual upgrades through IBM can eat away at your budget.

Buying from a third party is a viable, more cost-effective option, and you will have to buy from a third party eventually once your peripherals are EOL.

To help you understand why you should use a third party now, we’ve laid out the cons of shopping OEM and the advantages of going with a third-party vendor:

Disadvantages Buying OEM

Buying peripherals, products, software, and more from OEM, or the Original Equipment Manufacturer, is usually advised. Of course, this advice comes directly from the original manufacturer.

Buying OEM might keep peripherals within manufacturers or extended warranties. You may also think that by going with the manufacturer, you are working with a company with clear policies, including returns/refunds, exchanges, or defects and recalls. This isn’t always the case. Companies like IBM, for example, are major corporations, and your business will be forced into universal requirements that may not work for your industry or business needs.

OEM is definitely more expensive, and this does not mean that you are getting a higher value with that purchase. You can pay a lower amount and also get technical support, maintenance, and IT design from a third party.

Advantages of Buying Third-party

Buying third-party peripherals and peripherals have its perks. The biggest advantage is that buyers have cost options. Instead of being forced to purchase from OEM, buyers can shop around at third parties for lower cost peripherals while maintaining the same or better performance and compatibility with OEM peripherals


OEMs like IBM will end support for their products at least three generations old. So, you will have to shop for a third-party vendor eventually.

You should consider switching to one earlier because it is cheaper and the products are as reliable as OEM. In fact, third parties like Visara ensure plug compatibility, which means that the mainframe thinks that the product is an IBM product, ensuring optimal performance and limited critical errors in your mainframe function.

Is IBM the Best Source for Mainframe Peripherals?

Unfortunately, IBM is not the best source for most companies. Third-party vendors, like Visara, are able to provide peripherals that equal IBM’s quality and are plug-compatible, which means that your mainframe will think that it is an IBM part.

Moving away from IBM peripherals is a great way to save costs. Know that when you do so, you don’t have to cut on quality either. You can still get:

  • Great, high-quality peripherals
  • Plug compatible peripherals
  • Service even when your peripherals are EOL
  • 24/7 knowledgeable customer service
  • Support with information system design
  • A dedicated partner who understands that your mainframe function is critical to your organization’s success and for maintaining security in a range of industries

With third-party vendors, you may also get a more customized experience. Instead of being on hold with IBM contact center techs, you can instead call up your vendor partner and discuss with them a plan of action. This gives you a more manageable and customized plan of approach for maintaining your IBM mainframe.

Sourcing Third-Party IBM Peripherals

Purchasing your IBM peripherals will be different for every organization. Here are three ways to go about this process:

  1. First, decide on which peripherals you need. As the CIO or head of IT, you should have this info or be able to collect it. You need to collect at least the product identifiers; you can also have the date purchased and any EOL dates that IBM issues. However, your vendor can also source this information for you.
  2. If you notice that certain peripherals are coming up for upgrades or replacements, you’ll want to connect with your vendor to understand the changes. They can then identify if your current peripherals are compatible with your Third-Party peripherals
  3. As long as your Third-Party peripherals remain compatible with your system and the software you use, you can continue to use your current peripherals and control when you switch to Third-Party peripherals

For peripheral maintenance, you’ll need to source a trusted third party. Some things to look for in your research include:

  • How long has the company been around? If they have been around for over 15-20 years, then you know that they have been around at least for the lifespan of the Z model. You should try to source a third-party vendor who has been around for at least 30 years; this means that they have experience with pre-Z IBM mainframe systems.
  • What types of items does the vendor sell? You actually want to find a vendor with a reasonable selection of products.
  • They should have positive reviews. Of course, when searching for a vendor, check their reviews. Long-term companies will have more reviews, some positive and some negative. Over time, they usually become a well-established business with trusted parties. Read reviews and testimonials of your potential vendor before you sign on.
  • Are they just a reseller or are they the peripheral manufacturer? Having an intuitive knowledge of how your information technology works are key. If you work with a vendor who is not able to support broader system technology, they may only recommend one-off solutions that aren’t actually right for your needs. This will end up costing you more money. Find a vendor who does more than just resell.
  • See if they have a peripherals warranty. While not mandatory, it can be nice to work with a vendor who has a warranty on their peripherals. This warranty may be for servicing or maintenance, defect peripherals, or upgrade/config support.

Trusting Visara for Your IBM Peripherals

If you’ve always sourced your peripherals from IBM, then consider switching over to Visara, a brand trusted in the industry for over 35 years.

Visara can provide you with plug-compatible peripheral solutions, such as:

  • Storage:

Vi-5990A Virtual Tape Appliance

Vi-5990L Virtual Tape Library

VI-8810A DASD Appliance

VI-8820L DASD Library

Vi-7755 Mainframe Storage Array

  • Console Devices:

CCA-3074 Console Concentrator

MCC Master Console Management

500-LXP Thin Client Console

  • Disaster Recovery Solutions:

National Network of Interconnected DR sites for extended reliability and access

Visara and IBM peripherals at each site for reduced cost and flexibility

Compatible with all OS and Z processors

When working with Visara, you have a dedicated partner who will ensure that your mainframe stays functioning optimally and you experience no lag time on pending system updates.

A guide for your journey. Most senior leaders in the enterprise are looking for rock-solid performance, while mitigating risk for their enterprise-class systems. They struggle with end-of-life on their IBM mainframe peripherals with a looming end-of-lease deadline. 

At Visara, we’ve been there, and have seen these challenges for over 40 years.  We’ve serviced organizations from the Fortune 100 on down.

We have a simple 3-step “ABC” approach, to Assess the upcoming mainframe related problem, Build a future-proof solution to maintain IBM at the core, and Control the cost for a same-or-better implementation.  

Simple, cost-effective mainframe peripheral solutions.