Enterprise Branch Router Buyer's Guide - Page 2

By Drew Robb | Posted Apr 20, 2011
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What should buyers be looking for? Dan Vargas, a CDW solution architect noted that branch routers can appear to be quite similar in function to enterprise WAN routers. However, they typically have lower throughput requirements than WAN devices. Additionally, branch office routers usually do not aggregate or bring together other sites, he said. Although it does not perform the aggregation function, the branch router should still have support for different physical interfaces.

"Another requirement is the ability to increase bandwidth speed in the future without hardware upgrades," said Vargas. "Depending on the size of a location, there may be a need for the devices to support resiliency within hardware and software updates, as well as requirements for secure site-to-site connectivity."

The branch router may also need the ability to support directly connected services such as Voice Gateways or Application Acceleration. There may also be a need to insert an Ethernet switching module for consolidated LAN functionality in a single device.

"The first thing to determine with branch office routers is the amount of bandwidth the device must be able to support," said Vargas. "Second, ensure that the device will support the required features within your operating system to establish connections, such as Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and Virtual Private Networks (VPN)."

[Note: MPLS is a mechanism in high-end telecom networks which directs and carries data from one network node to the next using labels which act as virtual links between distant nodes. It can operate with packets using a variety of network protocols to carry data. Packet-forwarding decisions are made solely on the contents of this label, without the need to examine the whole packet. BGP is the protocol that backs the core routing decisions on the Internet]

Outsourcing Routers

Umeda pointed out another option for branch routers - don't bother to buy them and have them included in the contact with the service provider who will manage them. The service provider in this case provides the hardware and the service. You specify the bandwidth and the kind of service you desire and they give a device to address those needs.

"If you have 100 branches and you don't have internal networking expertise for each branch, the service provider sets up the contract to include managing the branches and giving so much bandwidth," said Umeda. "This is becoming commonplace for small and mid-sized organizations"

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