Selecting a router for your next deployment doesn’t need to be as daunting as you might expect. Understanding your environment and knowing your requirements before getting into the vast array of routers available will make your job much easier—and you will find a more suitable solution. Most importantly, it will reduce the risk of downtime and headaches down the road.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you need to delay a deployment, take down your network, and/or you don’t have enough redundancy built in to mitigate risk of missing an SLA (service level agreement). In today’s business environment, it can be detrimental to your business when your network goes down, whether it’s planned or not.
We recommend incorporating these tips when looking to purchase your next router so you can define your requirements and budget appropriately while ensuring maximum performance at the best possible price. This includes the low-end to mid-range routers such as the Cisco1900 or Cisco 2900 series to the high end, the ASR9000 series. We’ve observed that, often times, if you know what you want, it’s easier to find. Who would have thought?
Make sure that you consider throughput of the router. We find that customers are often misled by the specified interface speed on a card or router. For example, just because it has a gigabit interface doesn’t mean that it will have 1 gigabit of performance—the router itself needs to be able to push the data at that rate.
Consider installing the maximum amount of memory in the router you are going to deploy because there are many instances where you might need the extra capacity. These instances include: the initial software image or routing table is larger than one might expect, an updated version of the operating system released by the OEM might be larger, or when deploying VPN’s, the amount of IPsec and GRE tunnels, may contain too much overhead and take more memory than expected. Rather than leaving out the memory upgrade, be sure to budget it in.
#3 REDUNDANT POWER SUPPLIES
Be sure to purchase an internal or external redundant power supply to ensure maximum uptime. Most routers have an extra slot for another power supply or you can purchase a power supply that sits outside your router. Don’t risk putting all your “eggs in one basket” by only running one power supply. Power supplies are inexpensive and don’t take up much space, it’s an investment worth making when building out a router.
#4 REDUNDANT PROCESSORS
Prepare your router with a spare processor(s). Some of today’s routers have a spare slot for a processor as a back-up: in case the primary unit fails, the spare processor is already enabled and ready. Enabling this feature and purchasing the extra processor on the front end can save you time and hassle. Don’t wait until the processor fails to purchase it, install the necessary software, test it, and deploy it. Get this all done on the front end.
#5 BACK-UP ROUTER
Lastly, ensure maximum redundancy in your system by having a hot router in ready state. Many routers have the ability to instantly fail over to a backup router if the deployed router were to fail for any reason. Protocols such as HSRP (hot stand-by routing protocol) do these independently and automatically, allowing you to not be physically on site.
Today’s routers and networks are large and complex. With limited resources to manage and purchase equipment, it’s even more important to make sure you are purchasing the correct solution. We hope these tips will allow you to determine the important requirements that you need to select the router that’s best for your network. It will save you a lot of time and money by keeping a stable environment for maximum network uptime. And let’s face it, you’ll get some sleep at night and some much needed rest and relaxation on the weekend.