Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cisco 3845 Router Review

As a popular Cisco router, required by medium-sized to large businesses and enterprise branch offices, Cisco3845 offers a variety of features, including security features like on-board encryption, and support of up to 2500 VPN tunnels with the AIM-HPII-PLUS Module. To help more potential Cisco 3845 users know this Cisco item well, we listed two representative people who shared their experience of using Cisco 3845 series…

1. Cisco 3845Router Product Review from Cisco-network
The first impression of Cisco 3845 router on me was that I felt it is too heavy. So, do not try to install it to rack alone. It has two internal power supplies (one by default). Don’t forget to order the redundant one, if you plan to run it for critical business.

The LAN connection is also redundant with two build-in Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The good thing the GE 0/0 interface has SFP option. You can reach the far LAN Edge points on a Campus LAN. Another alternative is to use it for Metro Ethernet.

High capacity memory is another powerful feature of this router when compared with 2700 series routers. This router comes with 256 MB memory and you can upgrade it up to 1 GB. This really costs too much if you use original Cisco memory, but OEM alternatives exists in the market.
There is one integrated Virtual Private Network (VPN) Module. This module is added for the performance of encryption and not mandatory for VPN, but as Cisco says, it increases the speed 10 times. I did not use VPN on this router, but it looks capable of handling higher loads.

There are 4 HWIC slots and 4 NM slots. It has almost every kind of modules (Ether switch, wireless controller, ATM, T1/E1, NAM !!! ,FXS,FXO etc.)

My Experience
I use one of these routers for the Internet access with Advanced Enterprise IOS. BGP running on it with full table, cef enabled, Reflexive IP access list exist on the router. I also use it as a router firewall (Security guys call it as choke point). The CPU utilization is just about %2 – 3. I have to accept that this router was a bit oversized for my needs. I could have saved $3,500 (from list prices) if I use Cisco 3825 router.

You have to ask below mentioned questions before decide to buy a Cisco 3845 Integrated Services Router.
- Do I need more than 256 MB memory?
- Do I have several voice clients?
- How much concurrent VPN connection is expected?
- Do I need speeds like E3/T3?
- Do I need different kind of functionalities on one router (e.g. Wireless, ATM, Etherswitch ports)?
It is waste to invest money unless your answers for more than two questions are in affirmative.

2. Cisco 3845Router Review from Dave Mitchell
For IP telephony, the 3845 supports up to 240 IP phones and can accept a huge range of optional modules with over 90 currently available. Four small slots arranged along the top of the rear panel accept Cisco's single-wide and double-wide HWICs (high-speed WAN interface cards), and there are plenty to choose from. For example, you have ISDN, E1 and T1 with four- and nine-port WAN modules.

There are also ADSL modules available, the latest of which is a single-wide module with ADSL2/2+ support and ISDN dial-up backup. Wireless is also supported, with the router able to act as a central administrative point for multiple Cisco AiroNet access points.

Underneath these slots are four larger ones for Cisco's network modules with 16 and 36-port 10/100BaseTX modules available and PoE with the optional power supply upgrade fitted.

Using the EVM (extension voice module) slot, you can fit a module that'll provide standard analogue and digital voice and fax services, and there are expansion cards that add IP telephony with support for both H.323 and SIP protocols. The latter can bring into play a wide range of Cisco IP phones, all managed using the Unified CallManager Express tools.

Wizard stuff
You don't need to access the IOS for initial installation. You just point a web browser at the router's default IP address, where you're greeted by Cisco's new SDM (security device manager) Express. This offers wizards to help set up basic LAN, WAN and firewall configuration after which you can install the full SDM utility on a PC and firmware using the router's CompactFlash memory card.

The main SDR interface kicks off with an overview of the router showing the status of flash memory, LAN and WAN interfaces, firewall policies and so on. The Configure tab provides access to all features and you can start by setting up the various interfaces.

The firewall is turned off by default, but the basic setup wizard will have it running in seconds as you select the internal and external interfaces and choose from three predefined settings. The highest of these employs standard SPI firewalling but augments it with application inspection allowing you to block traffic such as IM and P2P. The firewall can be customised with your own rules using an advanced wizard and this includes options for DMZs using specific interfaces.

Rules can also be created using the router's application inspection abilities, so you can inspect email, block or allow P2P and IM traffic, filter URLs locally or add details of external filtering servers. You can also request alerts to be sent when traffic such as multimedia or FTP is detected.
Intrusion prevention uses regularly downloaded signature files, while QoS can be applied on the WAN interfaces. Again, a wizard takes you through this process and allows you to select real-time traffic such as VoIP or business-critical traffic including database and network management traffic. The 3845 offers extensive IPSec VPN features too, including 3DES and AES hardware encryption.

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