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I am looking at replacing our aging router - an old Cisco 2811 - with a new unit. What kind of criteria should I be looking at to select a model?

I have a few fairly long runs I'm looking at so I'm going to need fiber interfaces. I also have about a dozen local switches, each of which should have a 1 gig uplink.

The switches we use for our servers (HP 2900 series) support a 10 GB back pane which I'd like to leverage for my router access.

Ideally I'd like the 10 gig ports for linking to my servers to run at wire speed.

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What is your router connecting together? – resmon6 May 15 '12 at 17:01
@resmon6 - about a dozen switches 1 gigabit copper, two server switches 10 gigabit plus a couple fiber connections. – Tim Brigham May 15 '12 at 17:18
Moderator's note: Tim took great care to avoid this being a "recommend me a product" post, and instead phrased it as "What features should I be interested in". So I'm going to hammer comments recommending specific models without any support to them. – sysadmin1138 May 15 '12 at 18:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

One thing to be aware of with the HP 2900 series 10GbE backplane, it reportedly acts like a 10-pack of trunked 1GbE lines. This is just fine when working as an inter-switch link, but is less useful when attached to something like a large filer node.

Based on what you're looking for, I'd look for the following features in a new switch/router:

  • Modular. You have needs for both copper and fiber connections, as well as 10GbE needs. A modular switch will help you get what you need without having look for an all-in-one.
  • Backplane speeds. Enough backplane to support your traffic. With the 10GbE this can become an issue, especially in a modular switch that might have different bandwidth between modules as within them.
  • IPv6 support. Anything new should have it, but L3 switches may not have all the features needed for a true v6 router. The HP 2900-series don't.
  • Trunking support with your existing switches. Kind of a gimmie, but sometimes... support is spotty. The big-names should all work together.
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sysadmin, I am very interested in a source for the claim of hp 2900 that "acts like a 10-pack of trunked 1GbE lines", as I am considering the hp's (a long with some dell switches). Tried googling but couldn't find anything. – 3molo May 15 '12 at 19:14
I'm pretty sure I found it on the old HP ITRC forums, but am having trouble digging it out of the back-country of the Internet. Those ports are intended to be uplinks not host-ports. If I remember the article right, the person was complaining of not getting more than 125MB/s flow through that port for a single conversation and the reply was that it was working as designed. On a switch w/ GbE ports, you'd expect the max-flow to be 1 GbE wide. – sysadmin1138 May 15 '12 at 19:57

I recommend that you look into Vyatta it markets itself as a direct competitor to Cisco. The command line is similar and the features rich. Vyatta make a number of appliances and they also sell the software to install and run on your own hardware. (there is also an open source edition) I am running the open source version of Vyatta in a few locations. For my largest install I have a Vyatta in-front of my DMZ servers as a bridge providing firewalling and ThreatStop and another one routing between 3 networks. I have it connected to a stack of Dell Powerconnect 6248 switches. It also provides a VPN into 2 data centres. Another setup I have in the Amazon cloud and another setup is providing VLANS and failover for a large serviced office (with QOS).

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