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Trying to find the right router to use - we'd like to go Cisco. We have ~60 programmers that do a lot of remote server work. Will grow to 100 programmers by the end of the year.

We've talked to companies that sell Cisco routers. While they make recommendations, we feel that the sales guys may be selling us an overkill solution.

What kind of company (that is not linked to sales of routers) can provide a service to recommend the right kind of router for our company? There are lots of network engineers out there, but am looking for some company that focuses on advising a network solution.

Any suggestions of companies are welcome.

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Your title asks for router suggestions, your question asks for suggestions to consultants. Which one are you after? We can't really help you with consultant suggestions, but we can recommend products. –  Mark Henderson Feb 2 '11 at 5:28
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The number of people really doesn't matter much for picking a router. What size of the WAN link do you need to support? Do you need to support a multi-homed network and BGP? Do you want to terminate VPN connections on the router? Will the router be used for packet filtering? –  Zoredache Feb 2 '11 at 8:28

5 Answers 5

I think you're probably worrying about the problem too much. 100 users are unlikely to be that demaning, even if they are heavy data users. Realistically you could probably get any sort of router to connect your company to the internet, and stick a couple of stacked 48-port gig switches behind it to connect up all your desktop machines in the office. Any basic cisco router (or any current router from another vendor, or even a linux box) will probably work fine.

I agree that vendors will try to upsell you a lot and try to add on things like voip, remote vpn access, etc. In my experience you can add a few specialized boxes to your network to do those sorts of things as the need arises. Don't get sucked in to the idea that you have to buy some sort of modular 'solution' from a vendor.

Here's a real-life example: I ran the network at a scientific computing company that supported about fifty users. We had a SonicWall internet appliance for the external router and firewall. That device got flaky so I put an extra network interface in a desktop machine running CentOS and used it to replace the SonicWall. That configuration ran fine for several years - no routing or firewall issues to speak of.

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Depending on your location, you should be able to find a local VAR to provide the sort of advice you need.

Finding a company that doesn't sell routers but does recommend them... that might be harder to find. I know of such places for storage but not for networking, as I think the networking companies tend to push for this. An independent VAR is more likely to offer the benefits and downsides to more than one option.

If you were looking for a particular router recommendation, this would require more info, such as what your connection to the Internet consists of, what sort of remote server work (individual ssh sessions? multiple protocols? VPN to a colo? etc), and whether you care about redundancy. This is what your consultant, contractor, or VAR would need to know to make a responsible recommendation.

Phil has some good points... if you are really cost-conscious, you might not even need more than 10/100 switching. But your question doesn't seem to pertain to the LAN, just the router.

And if you haven't already considered an open source solution, it might not fit, especially if you don't have dedicated IT staff ready and willing to maintain it. There are Linux and BSD based "appliance" solutions that you could get support for.

I ran an office of about 120 people, 100meg fiber to the Internet, with ipsec VPNs to the colos, on a Juniper SSG 3xx router. The only thing missing was redundant power, but our fiber termination box didn't have redundant power and we had quarterly multi-hour power outages anyway.

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I generally agree with Rob that an independent VAR is probably a good way to go. And yes, if you don't have the IT staff then a roll your own open source solution is problematic. I just brought that up to illustrate that you often don't really need the vast majority of the bells and whistles on high-end routers like the stuff from Cisco. –  Phil Hollenback Feb 2 '11 at 8:29

MikroTik, the 1100 if you have a rack.

Price? Around 600 USD:

Does all Cisco does in this area and more.

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If it's a pretty straight-forward "single office" deal, anything that can handle the expected bandwidth should be fine. You (probably) won't need large routing tables (one default route, either statically pointing at the ISP or received via a routing protocol, one route pointing to the LAN).

If you intend to do your firewalling and VPN termination on the router, you'll need more horse-power, but I've found that you will typically end up with a cheaper solution if you split routing (on one hand) and firewall/VPN (on the other and maybe third hand).

Alternatively, take a standard PC, install Linux or BSD on it, install relvant routing daemons (if any) and take it from there.

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You sound concerned about price, which means Cisco shouldn't be your first choice. Take a look at Vyatta:

http://www.vyatta.com/index.php

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You sound as not heard of UsedCisco? :-P –  poige Feb 2 '11 at 5:57
    
You sound as not heard of Smartnet. –  Antonius Bloch Feb 3 '11 at 19:34

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