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Why Cisco routers don’t suit NZ SMB’s...

By Brendan Ritchie, Tue 16 Sep 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

For a long time, and certainly since before UFB came into view, DTS has been using Cisco routers as part of our managed WAN’s and/or where a client has requested a managed router as part of an internet service.

Before UFB got underway, typical speeds were anywhere from 5Mbps (CityLink Opta) to 100Mbps (via any number of fibre carriers). At that point we could use either the 800 series models for

While UFB service started off at speeds of 30Mbps/10Mbps and 100Mbps/50Mbps, UFB services have now reached the 200Mbps symmetrical mark, and critically, Chorus have released the NGA Business 5 service which is capable of 200Mbps and supports multiple VLAN’s, making it ideal for deployment as part of a managed WAN.

Looking at the table below, you can see that Cisco does have services that can support this sort of throughput with complex routing rules in place, but the price points are awful, even the 1921 retails for around $900 NZD, so you can imagine how much higher the price gets on more advanced models that can support 200Mbps+ IPsec throughput.

From our research, the Cisco (IOS) throughput is significantly impacted due to its software processing of NAT translations which leads to lower throughput than those offered by Juniper or Fortinet.

Juniper does present an alternative, but again, we have found that the price points don’t stack up once more than 100Mbps IPsec throughput is required.

Fortinet have made some great product specs, with the 60D available at roughly the same price as the Cisco 1921 but capable of 850Mbps Ipsec throughput and possessing 4LAN ports, it presents itself as a solid option for UFB grade services.

Unfortunately it doesn’t have the brand recognition of Cisco, and the devices aren’t packaged quite as nicely as the Cisco range, leaving some within DTS to feel apprehensive about putting it forward *cough* Daniel Bohan *cough*.

I am of the opinion that the Fortinet range is fast becoming the leading router brand in the UFB space. Even the 30D model, which has no advanced routing functions and a buy price of around $500, is capable of 350Mbps IPsec throughput, and works extremely well for simple “point to cloud” services.

(Juniper’s SRX range specifications above)

I have noticed a subtle drop in Cisco prices over the last few months, but they will need to do more than that to stay relevant in the SMB segment.

It comes down to capability vs price, and simply dropping the 1921 to the same approximate price as a Fortinet 60D doesn’t address the disparity in performance, and the value of a brand only goes so far.

By Brendan Ritchie – CEO, DTS

Brendan Ritchie is the CEO of DTS, a business focused ISP that has been supplying clients across Australia and New Zealand with internet, voice and tailored WAN solutions since 2002.

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