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Re: comparisons


[ with no particular emphasis on OpenBSD, and maybe a bit outdated... ]

On Sat, 03.04.2004 at 13:43:39 -0800, J.C. Roberts <unknown_(_at_)_abac_(_dot_)_com> wrote:
> Just for the sake of trying to be fair to Cisco about their low/mid end
> gear, do any of the pro admins on the list know what kind of
> service_contracts, guarantees, golf_outings, sexual favors, or whatever
> Cisco provides with their low/mid level kit to justify their price?

there are a few points worth noting besides _your_ points, imho:

- The Cisco gear (probably not the PIX, but the regular [1234]xxx
  routers), should be more robust than the average PC.

- They support much more interface types and network protocols than is
  usually "easily" possible with PC-type gear.

- Their routing (not security/...) stuff is still well above or at
  least much easier to handle than what I - so far - see in PC+*nix.
  Speak "OSPF" or "IS-IS", for instance, or speak "multip-protocol",
  and you get the idea (what about "MPLS" and "L2TP" on a PC?).

- Their software allows you to take a close look into hardware and wire
  problems (ie, try "show controller ..." for an interface).

This is important when trying to argue with your carriers that _their_
thing is broken, not mine. Your typical PC gear (hw+sw) can say not
much more than "line down", when the Cisco can say things like "The
remote clock is not there" (when it should), or "checksum error"
(including the development of such things over time), or other things
that sometimes allow you to make an educated guess that your stuff and
the line is ok, but the *other* side is not. It also has abundant
diagnostic features which you can use at run time, like the ability to
reset individual interfaces on a box without starting/stopping a whole

Their IP accounting, and more so, their Netflow accounting, stuff still
much defines the standard for any IP based billing in a ISP
environment... (although I don't exactly like either).

Their ACL stuff is nice, especially the fact that you can apply ACLs
almost anywhere and eg. use them to express your routing policy, or
influence how routing information is propagated from one protocol to

If you don't have advanced requirements in these areas and eg. are
content to swap a box if you suspect some kind of failure, or can
build individual boxen for special interface types, then you are
probably better off using a PC.

All in all, it's a question of software and management capabilities.

If these things justify the price tag for you, I don't know. I also see
an ever decreasing gap between the Cisco offering and the PC stuff
except for WAN interface handling, some of the routing stuff, and
diagnosis, but it's not quite there. Eg. there still doesn't seem to
exist an industry-grade L2TP package that could handle like 1000
simultanous session - the best of two packages I saw was described in a
way that it suggested it would crap out near 100 sessions... and a 75xx
can handle several 1000's of them.

As for the points you asked for, there are service contracts with
offers to do "as much as you want to pay for", starting at some
self-service bring-in upgrade and repair services and going up to at
least 24x7/4hr on-site replacement and, afair, managed services. If you
can't handle maintenance of your network yourself but have deep
pockets, this may be an option for you.

About the other things like golfing, I don't know.

Having said that, I try to keep a close look at PC based alternatives
for several obvious reasons...

Just my 0.02 cents...