Whither WAN routers?

This column highlights some comments I've received about Cisco Systems' WAN access routers.

Unlike so many areas, the letters were very matter-of-fact and passion-free. That would seem to be in character with the workhorse nature of the access router. While I don't think it appropriate to draw conclusions from the handful of messages, some interesting and valid points were made.

"Cisco is overpriced and underpowered," writes the IT manager of a coatings manufacturer. "The other companies can integrate just fine into existing and planned networks." This is a sentiment I've heard over and over again from end users during seminar tours.

This same writer, though, takes exception to a "future-proof" sales pitch and dismisses it as likely FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). "Being future-proof sometimes is as much about not overspending on the tools that you need in the hope that they will be the tools that you will need five years from now," he says.

In essence, I know that in the future I'll probably want something new, so let's not dwell too much on that.

In defence of the future-proof routing vendors, they probably are focused a little more on the "near-term". For example, don't be caught installing a router and then, a year later when you are ready to implement VPNs, find out that you have to upgrade to do that. To me, it seems that many of the future-proof router vendors are simply saying: "We'll provide you with sufficient horsepower and futures Day One that will be good for the life of the box."

The vice president of technology for a mortgage broker sums up what I believe are the thoughts of the "silent majority" when he writes: "I think that you are addressing an under-covered need with this topic. For the majority of us two-, three-, four-location operations that need affordable performance, I hope you or somebody starts publishing price/performance metrics and discussion about what is 'good enough'."

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