Remember back in the late 1980s and the 1990s when anyone who wanted to access the internet had to play the waiting game while listening to that awful screeching sound of the modem dialing the ISP? Ah, the nostalgia of good old dial-up! Thankfully, companies like Cisco make it so we no longer have to deal with the slow connection and loading speeds.
The speeds and capabilities of the internet have grown exponentially since the development of the wireless internet. All of the hardware involved from modems, routers, and processors have managed to outgrow each other year over year. In fact, in April 2015, Linksys (owned by Cisco) announced that they had achieved over 100 million units in router sales. That’s a lot of routers, but how do you know which one is right or you?
When it comes to choosing a Cisco router, there are many tools available to help you make the best decision. The manner in which you go about choosing switches is very comparable.
Go with Your Gut
When you think of Cisco routers, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It might be Cisco's 2600 and 3600 series lines. For years, these lines of routers served as the ideal model for midsize business' networks. Even though Cisco discontinued both lines, some organizations still use them today.
Going with your gut is just one way to choose a router for a current network. However, this method does have a major downside. Choosing a discontinued product could mean that your business misses out on a lot of the features in newer models.
Do Some Research
Most of us were forced to do homework for almost 20 years of our lives. So, what’s a little more? When choosing a router for a new network, the same old routers can’t always be counted on. Do your homework and evaluate different criteria and features that are offered in different models. The shortlist below can help you with the right questions.
Try looking at how many packets per second the router can forward. For instance, a Cisco 2610 or 2612 series router can forward an approximate 15,000 packets per second. Cisco 7500 series routers can forward an approximate 2 million packets per second. However, those numbers have a tendency to be altered once features such as firewalls and VoIP are added.
Growth implies the number of interfaces that can be supported by the router. Routers typically have a preset number of interfaces (WAN or LAN). Some routers, like the 3600 series, for instance, have no interfaces. So, take note of the number of interfaces that can be added to the default.
Depending on your current set up, the router you chose might need to support a certain interface or a VoIP feature.
Services refer to the integrated services supported by the router. Today’s routers support features that once needed separate boxes to function. A great example is a 32-port switching module that cancels out the need for an Ethernet switch. Also having a firewall, VPN server, and an IDS/IPS built into the router can cancel the need to have each individual feature as a separate box.
Does the router offer the necessary redundancy for working at a critical point in the network? Some redundancy examples include hot-swappable power supplies or high-availability routing protocols such as HSRP or VRRP.
Cisco routers have a reputation for being very reliable products. Furthermore, Cisco systems usually provide exceptional levels of customer support. When buying the router, many levels of support should be available. Be sure to choose the best level for you and your business.
Ask the Pros
When it comes to choosing a router, Cisco offers a Product Advisor, which virtually makes the router decision for you. As a bonus, you don't need to be a registered Cisco user to access this amazingly helpful tool.
The Cisco Product Advisor is a simple, time-saving tool that assists in choosing the right Cisco router for your network. It asks the questions and suggests a product based on your answers. So you can sit back, relax, and continue to surf… the internet that is.