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Buyer's Guide
Routers
September 2022
Get our free report covering Cisco, MikroTik, Cisco, and other competitors of Huawei Enterprise Routers. Updated: September 2022.
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Principal Engineer IoT Network Architecture at Vodafone Idea Limited
Real User
Top 20
Simple command line interface, intuitive design, but orchestration could improve
Pros and Cons
  • "I have found the most valuable feature of Cisco Enterprise Routers to be the simplicity of the command-line interface, it is very intuitive as to how the commands need to be configured for a specific use case."
  • "Over time things have changed where Cisco has not invested in improving the orchestration and simplifying it for people who do not want to get into the details. Cisco has not gone into that focus."

What is our primary use case?

We have been using Cisco Enterprise Routers for building micro-networks and Internet networks for main VPN services, high-speed Internet access, and extending the network of customers.

What is most valuable?

I have found the most valuable feature of Cisco Enterprise Routers to be the simplicity of the command-line interface, it is very intuitive as to how the commands need to be configured for a specific use case. 

What needs improvement?

Over time things have changed where Cisco has not invested in improving the orchestration and simplifying it for people who do not want to get into the details. Cisco has not gone into that focus. Technologies such as MPLS and VPN, have become very difficult to use for many service providers. This is where you have the admission of software-defined networks which brought in a lot of simplicity when it comes to routing and functionality.

What Cisco Routers needs to do to improve is what they have already done with the SD-WAN solution. It is a very, elegant solution, but even though it is a pretty comprehensive solution, one of the problems with the Cisco solution is many customers do not use all the features. They must have a category of customer premises equipment, specifically for the managed service providers and enterprise networks that can be much more cost-effective from an IT perspective. The configuration can be simplified at the GUI level. It should be easier because any telecommunication provider only has an enterprise network nowadays. 

When I am running an SD-WAN as an enterprise, I have features that are capable of finding an alternate path when there is latency. I have yet to find a solution to integrate them. For example, if I am a managed services provider for an SD-WAN customer, how do I make sure that this feature is automatically taken care of by the service provider side by monitoring its own option. This managing from the service provider side in the SD-WAN solution does not exist, it is all only static provisioning right now. When you are doing the original provisioning it happens, but dynamically when the network changes due to quirks in the network, how does it actually handle it. If there was this kind of features it would help Cisco to become the best in the process. You need to have a more solution-specific understanding.

The parts management teams have to come up with features that will benefit the service provider and the enterprises if they want to be the best.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Cisco Enterprise Routers for approximately 30 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability and bugs are more related to a Cisco internal issue because when I worked in the Cisco team in research and development, their internal procedures were very complex and they had a very bloated OS software. All those problems have been solved in approximately 2007. They have improved a lot of processes and areas. They brought more modularity into the code and they have strict mechanisms for fixing the software. Earlier the problem was that when they fixed the problem for one router, they had to go and fix the same issue in different code bases. For example, if there was a bug in QoS, Quality of Service, code and it was on a router that was also found to be in all the versions which of many other routers, they will fix on few of them. They will not fix many others because that would cause problems later in the deployment of the solution. This method has backfired a lot for Cisco.

They learned from their mistakes and started modularizing the code, they standardized the quality of service across the platforms and those problems went away. 

Now they have much more modular code and have done a very good job standardizing the CLI. This is what is helping the orchestration because the more complexity you have across different platforms it makes it very difficult for orchestration. You are able to do it but it makes it even worse. They needed big teams to manage the bug fixes and to understand how the bugs were going to be fixed. Now with the tools that are available, they have simplified a lot of the processes. The concept of segment routing and how can it be used for micro-segmentation, are wonderful features.

How are customer service and support?

The lack of talent is the major challenge and is something that is widening. However, orchestration solutions will actually help. The more proficient technical support personnel can focus on the troubleshooting whereas the entry-level personnel can focus on the orchestration part and manage the services. The troubleshooting can be taken care of by the more technologically advanced personnel at level two support and the level three technical support should be in the position to go right down through the levels and be able to see what is going wrong and fix the issue.

There was a time when we had excellent technical support in Cisco. It has been 10 years since I left Cisco and one thing I can say is that over a period of time, the technical support of Cisco diminished. The problems were more related to the internal processes within the system and the hiring processes that were used. When you are hiring people for technical support you cannot just hire somebody based on CCIE or CCNA certification. You need people who are real engineers who understand the protocol at the level of detail that is required at the level of implementation and the software must be understood extremely.

Unfortunately, in CCIE they learn how to pass the exams, but they really do not know how to build real networks. There are people who are very good at networking in configuring but they are extremely bad when it comes to understanding computer architecture, what is error correction memory, how does it affect software performance, and what kind of problems it can bring. They have no idea at all. This causes a problem when attempting to troubleshoot the equipment.

These problems are what Cisco and all others face. Cisco has invested a lot in their teams, but if you have managers who do not know how to recruit the right type of people then you face a lot of challenges. Those working on routers, switches, networks, and their environments must have a good understanding of what an operating system is, what is the computer architecture, what is the architecture of the router, and what it is implemented in the protocol. It is very important to be aware of the tools that are in the customer environment, how is the customer using them, are they using them in the right way, or in the wrong way. These things also must be understood.

Most of the help personnel just focus on the software side of the problem. They are not worried whether the customer is getting the connectivity in the right way or not, you have to be supporting in the right way. When I was in a company called Wipro, which is a Cisco partner, I found that they did not know even know how to handle the information correctly. You feel a lot of challenges because of the way hiring is done. 

I am not sure how they handle new features or functionality nowadays but I used to do technology transfer to help people understand how a particular feature or the new functionality that is developed in the platform was supposed to be working, such as certain setup commands that I have used for configuration, the expected outputs, and some of the basic troubleshooting that was needed.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The prices of Cisco are mostly fair. Cisco is similar to BMW for the networking industry. If you compare it with other vendors, such as Huawei, they cannot match the service. Cisco solution serves as the BMW of the networking industry in the way that the others are trying to live up to those expectations. Cisco is justified in some of the pricing, not all the pricing, if you go to the Cisco website, you can see the detailed documentation.

I am currently working with Nokia and it is very difficult to find where the documentation is on the web. They do not even provide the datasheets, and they are only provided them on request for the equipment. How will a person really appreciate a company when it comes to that kind of solution? I can go to the Cisco website and look at the SD-WAN to see the validated designs, all the information, and understand them just by creating myself an account but not with Nokia. I am even trying to figure out what are the protocols that Nokia will use in their SD-WAN solution. It would be much easier to have documentation to compare the advantage and disadvantages. Cisco's openness in their documentation is one of the most appealing strengths of the company, it really gives you an indication of how open they are. The documents detail how much money they spend on it, and how they are helping the industry from an infrastructure perspective. Additionally, Cisco gives you talented individuals. There are people who are self-learners who will go to the website and look at the documentation, learn, and understand the software to find which functionality has a bug. When it comes to a Nokia, they will only help you if you are a managed service with a contract. Otherwise, you cannot even deploy their equipment, this is not a good practice.

I justify part of the pricing that Cisco has but not the full model. There is a 25 percent price increase over the Nokia and it is justified for what Cisco delivers to its customers. I am calculating not just the pricing for just the routers, but the overall price, including openness and how much support they can handle. They are excellent. If you run a network without software support from Cisco and call technical support they will help. For example, they will indicate the problem exists because you upgraded the software and if you have a contract, you can automatically download the software to fix the problem. This would not be the case with Nokia, you will need them to be involved, they select the managed services, and that makes it extremely difficult for people to afford. 

Cisco is way too expensive for small and medium businesses. They must lower their prices in the lower range equipment. They need to make sure that they do not ignore that market segment because they will lose it for good. They will be gone from the Asian market and they will survive with only those companies which are extending their arms into India and South Asia because of the large companies that are there. They will not be able to penetrate the markets in all small and medium businesses and will not thrive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated Huawei and Nokia solutions. Nokia solutions are pretty good. However, in their software, I have heard from many of my friends, they have some type of secrecy that they follow that is very difficult for me to digest.

What other advice do I have?

It is important for smaller companies to focus on understanding how deployments are done. The learning should be done from the perspective of deployment operations because whether you are an enterprise or a service provider you are buying these routers and offering a service to the internal or external customers as a service provider. You need to understand how these platforms and overall solutions help you to build a network faster and which part of it reduces the cost. Many of the smaller companies do not understand the operational expenses well enough, they will end up doing all kinds of Ad Hoc configurations with half the knowledge, and they will run into problems and it will be expensive.

I rate Cisco Enterprise Routers a six out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Udochi Ododo - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager, Technical Planning and Solutions Design at Galaxy Backbone Ltd
Real User
Top 5
Reasonably priced and the bandwidth management capabilities are good
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is its bandwidth management ability."
  • "They should improve technical support and make direct access available to the customers."

What is our primary use case?

I am a solution provider and I deploy this product for my customers. Primarily, it is used for last-mile access. When I deploy it in an enterprise environment, It is normally for bandwidth control.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its bandwidth management ability.

What needs improvement?

The routers that this vendor makes are quite small and I think that they should make their products such that they conform to what the industry is used to. Not that it matters from a technical perspective, but often, customers see the size of the router and they think that it is used for a small environment because of its size. They look at the router and because it doesn't look like the Huawei or Cisco models, they think that it is underpowered because of the size. If they changed the external look and feel of the products to match what the enterprise environment is used to, then it would be good. Again, in no way does it affect the performance. Rather, it's just the perception.

They should improve technical support and make direct access available to the customers.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with MikroTik Routers and Switches for approximately 15 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

On a scale of one to five, I would rate stability a four.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable solution. Although, if you deviate too much from your original device then you will need to change it. If, for example, the scope changes significantly from the initial setup, then you might have to change your device.

Essentially, if the change in scale is too large then you might need to also scale your device accordingly.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is not very good, as it is usually done through third-parties. You don't have direct access to MikroTik themselves. Most of the support we get is through forums.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I also work with similar products from Juniper, Cisco, and Huawei.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex and you need to have a deep understanding in order to deploy it. The time it takes to deploy will depend on what you're configuring, in terms of what technologies. Typically, if it's just for connectivity, in usually 20 to 30 minutes you should be able to get MikroTik up and running. But, if it's compliance and other things then it may take a while longer.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is very reasonable and is one of the main selling points for MikroTik devices.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing MikroTik Routers is to make sure that they have the requisite toolsets onboard to manage the devices so that they don't run into problems. Otherwise, it is a good and inexpensive product to use.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
IT Director at a comms service provider with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 10
Straightforward to install and has good local support, but the throughput and integration with other products should be improved
Pros and Cons
  • "The people we deal with is a local partner in Cambodia and we can get good support from them."
  • "My team is looking for more throughput and better integration with our security framework."

What is our primary use case?

We are using this solution as our corporate firewall.

What is most valuable?

This solution is quite good.

What needs improvement?

It's a good firewall but we are looking for features that are available in Palo Alto.

My team is looking for more throughput and better integration with our security framework. Better integration with other platforms would be an improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

 We have been using Forcepoint Next Generation Firewall for one year.

We are using the latest version.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Forcepoint is stable and we plan to continue using it in the future.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable product. We have approximately 300 users.

How are customer service and technical support?

We can get local support, which has been okay so far.

The people we deal with is a local partner in Cambodia and we can get good support from them.

How was the initial setup?

The installation was not an issue for us.

What about the implementation team?

Our in-house team did it with the help of our local partner.

We have three or four IT people who take care of deployment and maintenance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are still evaluating other products such as Palo Alto.

One of our goals is to minimize the number of different vendors that we have. Ideally, we would like to have a firewall and security solution with good performance from a single vendor, with a single management console.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Telecommunications Engineer at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Good network protection and configuration that is easy to set up and quick to deploy

What is our primary use case?

We are using this solution to protect our network on every site. We are using it as a Network Firewall.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the policies, filtering, and configuration.

What needs improvement?

Technical support is good but the response time could be faster.

When it's overloaded, it works slower and overheats.

The data analysis could be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Fortinet FortiGate for 15 years.

We are using the 100 models.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's a scalable solution. I would rate it a seven out of ten.

We have 2,500 users in our organization.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good. I would rate them an eight out of ten.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have also used Huawei.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. It's pretty easy.

At the very most, it takes a day to deploy.

What other advice do I have?

Before deciding to install this solution, be sure to conduct an analysis of your environment. You may need a larger one or this may be too big for their needs.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Routers
September 2022
Get our free report covering Cisco, MikroTik, Cisco, and other competitors of Huawei Enterprise Routers. Updated: September 2022.
635,987 professionals have used our research since 2012.