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Our existing network gateway's hardware has just failed (it was a repurposed desktop machine running Debian + Shorewall that we threw together), and we're looking to replace it. For now, we've fallen back to using a off-the-shelf Buffalo WHR-G300N we've reflashed with DD-WRT, which served as our gateway previously. We're thinking of replacing it with a newer x86 machine running pfSense or using our existing Debian configuration. Alternatively, a friend of mine has suggested getting a Cisco 800-series router (as they did in his previous job).

This is a smallish office, about 30-odd users, with a DMZ network for some file servers and virtual machines we need access to from the Internet. Our repurposed desktop machine was doing:

  • Firewall
  • NAT
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • DMZ network
  • a bit of HTTP proxying/caching via Squid
  • QOS/traffic shaping (for VoIP traffic)
  • some monitoring (primarily to see who was consuming bandwidth)

I can live without the HTTP proxy, but I'd like to be able to monitor network traffic. Firewall is a must.

I'd like to get some opinions before committing to a purchase such as the Cisco. Is it worth shelling out for the Cisco ISR, or should we just buy a white box and continue with what we were doing previously?

Our current fallback setup (the DD-WRT-flashed router) can't seem to handle our traffic load at the moment, as it's doing double duty as our wireless access point as well. It was our previous setup, when we were a much smaller office.

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Have you looked at the Cisco ASA devices? Rock solid like the 800 series – Dave M Apr 19 '12 at 12:31
For an office that small you can probably get away with an asa 5505 for $300 or so. The firewall/nat/dhcp/dmz functions of an ASA are much more robust than a cisco router. – resmon6 Apr 19 '12 at 12:46
No, thanks for mentioning the ASA. What's the major difference between the Cisco ISR and the ASA? I don't seem to detect anything major, aside from the ASA being a full-blown firewall device. Forgive my ignorance -- why go with the ASA instead of the 800 ISR? (I can't seem to find any links comparing the two). – jmibanez Apr 22 '12 at 13:11
The ASA runs PixOS, and the 800 runes IOS. For a small office like yours, there likely no functional difference. The ASA5505 has been around for a while now and there are a lot of people using them, posting configuration scripts on the net, and many professionals who are familiar with them. – Chris S May 2 '12 at 19:34

There might be also a solution from Astaro. But I think they are limited in the functionality compared to the paid version.

anyway: Astaro is easy to use

There is a UTM version (big), an "essential version" (for companies, limited) and a "home version". The last two are easiest to be found on the footer of the page.

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