When you need to repair or replace electronic equipment, compatibility is everything. You could get a replacement that looks absolutely right in the pictures, but when you try to use it, something goes wrong.
In order to ensure compatibility, the best option is usually to match part numbers. That way, you don’t have to worry about what looks right; the manufacturer is telling you what does and doesn’t match.
When it comes to Cisco part numbers, there are times when two parts will have the same number, but one has an extra equals sign. That might lead to some questions, so let’s take a minute to remove the ambiguity and help you get exactly what you need.
What Is the Equals Sign on a Part Number?
Cisco, like most manufacturers, utilizes specific serial numbers to identify parts. Among those serial numbers are signifiers that allow you to figure out a few things about a part at a glance, and one such signifier is an equals sign.
If you look at a bunch of Cisco serial numbers, you might find that some have the equals sign while others don’t. In fact, if you’re ordering parts and comparing serial numbers, you might find that two parts, seemingly identical, may or may not have the sign. Everything else is the same, but one has the sign and the other doesn’t.
Why is this?
Does the equals sign matter?
The short answer is no. The equals sign has nothing to do with the quality or even contents of the part in question. Instead, this is just an identifier for warehouse tagging to make it easy for Cisco to know availability.
That sounded a little vague, so let’s talk about the specific meaning of the equals sign and when you will or won’t see it.
The Equals Sign on a Cisco Order
Let’s assume you’re ordering a part from Cisco, and you see the sign. What is it telling you?
In short, this simply means that the part is available to order as a replacement.
Here’s an example. Say you have a Cisco switch, and when you look it over, you see a couple of serial numbers on stickers on the switch, and one of them has the equals sign. This means that the specific part stickered can be ordered as a singular replacement.
If the equal sign is not present, it doesn’t mean you’re looking at a different part. Instead, it means that Cisco is not earmarking it as a possible replacement part. In order to get your hands on a part without the equals sign, you might have to order something else that includes this part. As far as functionality goes, the sign has no bearing.
The Equals Sign on a Non-Cisco Order
What if you order a Cisco part from a third-party reseller? What does the equals sign mean in that case?
Typically, it’s removed. Cisco distributes many parts and items to third-party resellers, and the serial numbers are adjusted accordingly. So, you might find a part that has the sign if you order it from Cisco but doesn’t have the sign if you order from a reseller.
Once again, this doesn’t matter. It’s the same part either way, but the equals sign isn’t present for third-party orders just to keep things a little bit simpler.
That’s it. That’s everything you need to know about the equals sign, and now you’re that much savvier when it comes to reading Cisco serial numbers.
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