Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

OS Router Challenges Proprietary Networking 238

Jane Walker writes "Dave Roberts talks about Vyatta's open source router and how open source technology may soon alter the landscape of enterprise networking." From the article: "Initially, we believe that the x86 PC running Vyatta -- given the range of hardware that's available in the PC world -- can basically replace the midrange of the router market; to use Cisco terminology and model numbers, simply because it's convenient shorthand, basically from the 2800 series to the 7200 series. There's a whole host of equivalent products from Nortel and Alcatel -- but essentially in that range. I wouldn't describe it as Cisco model numbers so much as T1 branch office to gigabit LAN product categories."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OS Router Challenges Proprietary Networking

Comments Filter:
  • Sigh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 222 ( 551054 ) * <stormseeker.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:19PM (#15780432) Homepage
    I love open source and all, but can a project like this really offer the same number of WIC modules?

    I can plug damn near anything into a Cisco router....
    • Re:Sigh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:35PM (#15780521) Homepage
      All depends on what they provide in the way of PCI/PCI-X cards- or whatever the future buses might be...

      I'd say that odds are good you'd get about the same number of media interfaces and what you didn't
      have would very probably have a media adapter or bridge that's standalone to take care of the gaps.
    • Re:Sigh.... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Nuclear Elephant ( 700938 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:40PM (#15780564) Homepage
      I can plug damn near anything into a Cisco router....

      Open source routers and pr0n sounds like a dangerous combination for you then.
    • Re:Sigh.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ChaoticChowder ( 971057 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:51PM (#15780616)
      This software would have to offer much more that just WIC modules to even have me consider using it. Cisco routers may have low clockspeeds on the core chip, but its the ASICs that give them value. Also, take the 6509 for instance, slap in a SUP720B and you now have a 720 GBps back plane. No PC could ever hope to do that. Also, configuring a Cisco router is pretty much the easiest thing ever. I haven't checked out the software yet, but it better be much easier. Maybe they should network with the Open Source chipset guys and design some ASICs and all the other niceties.
      • Re:Sigh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Thundersnatch ( 671481 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @08:09PM (#15780706) Journal
        Also, configuring a Cisco router is pretty much the easiest thing ever.

        Trolling for a +1 funny mod, are we?

        I don't remember who said it, but this is my favorite quote about Cisco software: "Cisco makes easy things difficult, but difficult things possible."

        • Actually, I thought Cisco's business model is to sell hardware for the purpose of extorting a monthly $20,000 training fee. You know, like Novell did back in the late '80s.
        • by Rabid Cougar ( 643908 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:03AM (#15781596)

          Wideband [wband.com] makes Layer-3 switches that beat comparable Cisco routers hands down. With their nMU (pronounced "NetMU") it makes easy things easy and difficult things easy too. With their 28-port switches, you can get full-duplex, non-blocking Gigabit transfers on all ports simultaneously. And did I mention that they can even do Gigabit over CAT-3 and barbed wire? Also, if you use the nMU control your switches, none of them even need IP addresses. Good luck trying to hax0r a switch with no IP address. Throw in the fact that all their stuff is made in the USA (no off-shore customer support) and costs much less than comparable Cisco gear that doesn't perform nearly as well, and you have yourself a superior product. If you are expanding or replacing your network infrastructure, consider WideBand over Cisco. You'll be glad you did.

          ***Disclaimer***

          I do not now, nor have I ever worked for WideBand, but we use their gear where I work. BTW, there were some guys who ran a Cisco shop in the training class I was in that WideBand offered. Last I heard, they were replacing all their switches with WideBand gear. IMNSHO, WideBand is the best kept secret in networking

        • I don't know what all the fuss is about Cisco routers. For my money, Black and Decker wins every time.
    • Re:Sigh.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:25PM (#15781007) Homepage
      I can plug damn near anything into a Cisco router....

      And if you disable autonegotiate and set speed and duplex at fixed values, you might even get link.
    • Re:Sigh.... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jzor ( 982679 )
      ...but can a project like this really offer the same number of WIC modules?

      What do foodstamps have to do with networking?
  • Good luck with that! (Score:5, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:20PM (#15780436) Homepage Journal
    Cisco and Juniper offer 24/7 worldwide support. Whether or not it sucks, this is the thing that keeps people cozily asleep at night, knowing that if they have a problem, they have an unchallengeable defense of having bought the best in class support solution (notice I avoid any discussion of h/w, because in the enterprise, h/w without support is worthless).

    Yes, Vyatta talks a good game, but 24/7 worldwide support isn't something you build with a few million bucks in VC funding.
    • Whether or not it sucks, this is the thing that keeps people cozily asleep at night, knowing that if they have a problem, they have an unchallengeable defense of having bought the best in class support solution (notice I avoid any discussion of h/w, because in the enterprise, h/w without support is worthless).

      Because, obviously, it is just that important to cover one's own ass.
    • True... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@yaHORSEhoo.com minus herbivore> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:39PM (#15780552) Homepage Journal
      ...they buy "world-class support", but having tried to use said support on occasion, I can say that I feel sorry for the world. Sure, it's better than a kick in the head, but not so much that it's worth the cost. I believe the record for longest repair ever was at the University of Manchester, in England, where a Cisco router corrupted the 1518th byte in every packet (thus only corrupting packets with a 1500 byte payload or 1496 bytes over 802.1q). Took them NINE MONTHS to fix. The first three of those, they denied there was even a problem.
      • Really doesn't surprise me with cisco.. I dumped the one cisco router we had after a long list of problems - each time it took over a month to get to someone with a clue to admit there was a problem, and 6-9 months to actually issue a fix. None of those fixes are yet in a shipping IOS.

        My favourite was the DHCP server.. they 'forgot' (their words) to test it on Windows clients, which use an 'obsolete' version of DHCP standard (again their words) so the dynamic DNS updates don't work at all (well they kinda
      • Re:True... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by l0ki ( 140176 )
        system mtu 1504

        THEY didn't currupt your data- .1q adds extra bits onto a packet so that it can "tunnel" data from source to destination- with- you VLAN info etc intact... thus it has to add data to the packet- which can make it bigger (jumbo) than intermediate devices expect/allow... it's normal bevahior and you just need to tell those intermediate devices to allow bigger MTU size without dropping the frame as being too big... Maybe this was a while back or something.

        You can't blame Cisco for a missing conf
        • Re:True... (Score:2, Informative)

          by nolife ( 233813 )
          If the solution was really that simple, you just proved the parents post. The referenced Cisco world class support team took nine months to diagnose and fix a problem that a random person on /. could have fixed in 30 seconds.
        • Why would he have to do that when not using VLANs? The parent said that corruption was occuring at normal full-sized packets in addition to 1496 bytes VLAN packets.
        • Re:True... (Score:2, Informative)

          by osbjmg ( 663744 )
          Dude, they surely tried this. Don't assume you fixed the problem when in fact you weren't there! Depending on the platform and functions applied to this particular device, it could have been much more complicated. Usually they are running traffic tunnelled through the FWSM module and it forgets to take into account the .1q tag or they are using an encryption module which had calculated on pre encryption sizes.
    • In other words, "No one ever got fired for buying Cisco."
    • "Yes, Vyatta talks a good game, but 24/7 worldwide support isn't something you build with a few million bucks in VC funding."

      Why not? I am serious, why not? Most of ciscos support consists of putting you on hold for extended periods anyway. It's phone support and it can be done from anywhere in the world for a pretty cheap price. If somebody needs to come out they call the local chamber of commerce and get the contact of a local consulting company to come out and swap the hardware.

      That's how everybody does
      • Look at Red Hat. Why do you think Oracle is considering doing their own distro? Not because there's gobs of money in the distro space, but because RH can't support them well enough now and they have a significant RH installed base. One large enterprise customer would kill a startup with pre & post sales support requirements alone. This is one of the many reasons that startups have problems cracking the enterprise space.
        • So it's a growth issue. I buy that.

          Now, question: How hard would it be to solicit new VC funding if you've suddenly got a big name customer? Crank that couple million to a couple hundered million.

          I realize there's training timeline issues along with it, but an appropriately motivated company should be able to handle it.

          I think it's just an issue of knowing when to change leadership (e.g., the guy that motivates a couple hundered programmers isn't necessarily the same guy capable of motivating a couple th
    • notice I avoid any discussion of h/w, because in the enterprise, h/w without support is worthless.

      Yes, Vyatta talks a good game, but 24/7 worldwide support isn't something you build with a few million bucks in VC funding.

      This sounds eerily like old Sun talk. "We don't care if competing products can do it for less, we're [Sun | SGI | Cray]!! The low end will never catch up with us, because we have special pixie dust!"
    • Cisco and Juniper offer 24/7 worldwide support. Whether or not it sucks, this is the thing that keeps people cozily asleep at night,

      Really? I think I'd sleep better knowing that (for the same price) I got MULTIPLE PC/software routers, setup in a zero-downtime failover cluster, with replacement parts trivially easy to get anywhere at anytime, and have full access to the source code if ever necessary.

    • Yes, but there is a large market of folks that either A) have dealt with Cisco's so-called support and aren't impressed or B) would rather simply have a preconfigured spare box for less price than a single Cisco.

      If there is one thing that Linux has proved it is that you can't underestimate inexpensive and "good enough." You may not be interested in what Vyatta is selling right now, but I would bet that enough people are interested that the next gen Vyatta is even more competitive. In the long run, the l

  • by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:24PM (#15780456) Homepage
    Advocate 1: "I work at Oracle by day, but work on Vyatta by night."

    Advocate 2: "Well, I work at Cisco by day, but work on PostgreSQL by night"

    [awkward pause]

    Advocate 1: "Pistols or swords?"
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:28PM (#15780477)
    Here's why:

    1) it takes an RTOS to make things work well. You can grind all the driver code you want, but an RTOS foundation is required with lots of cache
    2) only PCI-X bus gets close, and most 1Us don't have it. That gives you a real ceiling in terms of port-port throughput; don't kid yourself
    3) the algorithms needed to maintain cross-bar speed are gruesome. You don't find this kind of code in anything but sledge-hammered C and assembler, and code that only a mother (and an embedded systems engineer) could love. There is very little forgiveness here.

    Yes, a 1U can make a decent router. But don't kid yourself into believing that you can beat F5, Cisco, Alcatel, etc.

    You can certainly embarrass them, but on the high end, it doesn't work.
    • by twiddlingbits ( 707452 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:38PM (#15780541)
      The RTOS doesn't use a lot of cache, It needs a fast CPU and tight code to handle the massive numbers of context switches. The code you mentioned isn't all running on a CPU either. A lot of it is on custom hardware to keep up those data rates. The PCI-X bus would work except very high end, and it IS available in current 1U servers from people like Sun and HP, but certainly not in that old 286 in the closet. You could turn an Opteron with the HyperChannel architecture into a pretty darn good router. But the Opterons cost quite a bit more than a 286 would (does any foundry still MAKE 286 chips?). It's a good project but I agree it's not ready for prime time in the corporate data center.
    • It won't make it into a $40k router, true.

      But it'll make a pretty good $1k router.
      • some geeks tend to forget that the vast majority of companies simply dont need a $40K router, they need a 10K router and that is it.
        • Yes, it's nice to exercise code. A nice $1K router can be had for about $45 in the form of a Linksys home router with some nice kits put on them. Not the fastest, but if you're connecting to a GBE or fiber connection, then you need some speed. All else has as the least common denominator-- the mating link speed. This is usually something ugly like several Ts or at most a DS3. Few orgs get nice fast connection speeds so one is gilding the lilly to think otherwise.
          • I'm pretty sure the $45 Linksys routers (and they're more like $70 now, for the ones you can flash the firmware on and have a significant amount of RAM: the "54GL") don't have GigE on the LAN side; I think they top out at 100BT. So if you just want an uplink router, they're probably fine once you get them patched up to your liking, but if you want your local net to be fast, they're not going to cut it.

            A router with GigE on the LAN switch and a reasonably fast uplink, and configurable software (not a brainde
            • Did I say IPV6? Shame on me.

              It would be nice to have need for internal routers for many of the tasks that people think they need routers for. Yes, a fatuous ARP table is a beautiful thing if the router can deal with other things. There's a tremendous amount of power in pushing the routing/bridging strength to the edge, and keeping the height low on the hierarchical models; it's more manageable.

              But the little stupid brouters (GBE switches at this rate) are really nice. Add in some nice filtration tables to k
    • Two words: cut through.

      With a software router (aka your typical Linux-nerd router), the entire packet has to be read before the routing decision can be made. Then it has to be sent out again.

      With Cisco, what you are paying for isn't the routing, it's the low latency of hardware that can see the destination IP address in a packet header, then effortlessly shunt the bits off to another interface in real time. You're also paying for the hardware being designed with 24/7 operation in mind, with little extra

    • the article clearly states "middle-end", does it not?
    • Perhaps not a $40K router, but a $15K one--for $3K (including the replacement, should the first unit fail).

      1) it takes an RTOS to make things work well. You can grind all the driver code you want, but an RTOS foundation is required with lots of cache

      IOS is not a real-time operating system, which nicely disproves your claim. 8-)

      2) only PCI-X bus gets close, and most 1Us don't have it. That gives you a real ceiling in terms of port-port throughput; don't kid yourself

      In some of the Cisco low-to-mid-range route
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you go to Vyatta's website they claim that they are bringing in the "Dawn" of Open Source Networking.
    Unfortunately these folks obviously were living under a ROCK for the past 8-10 years and never noticed
    things like oh.. IPTABLES, and there has been WAN support in Linux for a long time. Great companies like
    Sangoma offer T1 cards etc etc. This is just a bunch of folks trying to cash in on support contracts on
    the backs of great open source projects and developers. We shouldn't even be giving them the press!
    • Unfortunately these folks obviously were living under a ROCK for the past 8-10 years and never noticed
      things like oh.. IPTABLES, and there has been WAN support in Linux for a long time.


      Actually, they did notice IPTABLES. That was sort of the whole point of starting the project.
    • We shouldn't even be giving them the press!

      Techtarget's article is the equivalent of Father and Son at the baseball field. Dad throws 'em nice and slow, and Junior hits 'em every time.

      To call this "press" is an insult to news media everywhere, even by their standards. This is nothing more than a fluff piece by Techtarget (and Techtarget isn't "media"; they're basically a "whitepaper rehasher") asking him exactly what he wants to be asked.

  • Ah hem, OpenBSD.?.? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:29PM (#15780481)
    You get OpenBGPD and OpenOSPFD all working in concert through the kernel. Oh and did I mention the price? $40.

    Brilliant!
  • While this router probably will be a valid competitor to Cisco/Juniper in many areas, it probably won't be able to compete in the very high end market where these companies have made a name for themselves. Cisco routers, at least do a lot of processing using ASICs, which are specifically optimized to make the kinds of decisions needed for routing packets. I'm not sure whether traditional x86 can match that level of performance.
    • I agree. I am very much an advocate of the "right tool for the right job" theory.
      Making a system designed to be a general purpose tool (ie a 1u computer) into a single purpose device is bound to not be as good as a device designed to do that job.

      If I want a firewall or router I want it to be capable of doing it's job to the best of it's ability, not limited by the processor if another type could have been faster. Also not limited by the OS if a small bit of highly dedicated code could do a better job than s
      • Can you please tell me why businesses are still running Databases on General purpose boxes with a general purpose OS then? It seems to me that something as resource intensive, time critical, specialized, and expensive as your typical enterprise level database server should be run on specific hardware and a specific OS geared towards running a database. Why do you put your data files on top of a file system that's designed to be general purpose, when you could probably get better performance by dedicating
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:33PM (#15780506) Homepage
    I guess those BSD guys have just been playing around all these years.
    • Not just BSD. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      GateD used to be under a semi-open license. Then there was MRTD, Zebra and Quagga. XORP is said to be pretty good, too. MIT's Click is probably the most versatile, as you can just about script your own routing elements - very pluggable - with the added capability of routing between physical and simulated (eg: NS-2) networks.
  • by CelestialWizard ( 13685 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:33PM (#15780510)
    While a company such as Vyatta may be able to deliver the software to actually do the routing, you still need hardware pieces to actually connect to your equipment.

    There aren't many PCI (full or half height) cards that can do ATM with OC3, etc....

    Then there is the size factor. Data centre space is sparse and expensive, cisco (and such) equipment is built for this space. x86 PCs also run hotter (and louder) than specifically designed hardware from vendors such as cisco, juniper and 3com. oh and they draw more power.

    i just can't see how this will take off in the top end of the market.

    sure, for a small branch office that connects to frame, isdn, dsl or pstn and runs a vpn it may be fine, but not in a data centre or racked environment.
    • They did say "midrange", of course.

      I suppose that depends on what one considers "midrange", I suppose.

      • You're still not saving anything. Plenty of companies offer tested, integrated router solutions for the low end, at a much lower price point than you can get with an x86 box, and with a 10-year warranty. Show me a PC manufacturer that offers a 10-year warranty.
    • by burne ( 686114 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @08:39PM (#15780836)
      There aren't many PCI (full or half height) cards that can do ATM with OC3, etc....
      I've been able to live in ISP-land for over ten years without ever coming close to ATM. Big exchanges like the AMS-IX (biggest public IX worldwide) have been pure ethernet since their inception. Getting ethernet in some form from a transit-provider is just a checkbox in the right place. Current commodity hardware will do linespeed GigE over PCI-X. Current high-end PC's have sufficient bandwidth available. 66MHz 64bits PCI-X might sound like 266MB/s, but keep in mind that equates to well over 2.5Gbit/s. The right hardware has 3 independant PCI busses and busmasters, so should be able to move 7.5Gbit/s of data via busmastering DMA, and thus with low CPU load. Keeping a full routing table and a bgp-daemon running doesn't require odd hardware. Juniper has been doing that on a Pentium MMX 333 with 768Mbyte since 2001, and a dual Xeon 2.4 will giggle at that 'workload'.

      Combining the above will give you a 3U box (smaller than a 7200) which will route (not switch) 4-5Gbit/s reliable. A 7600 is a lot bigger and a serious sh*tload more expensive. You could buy several identical boxes for redundancy and still keep some change left.

      Support is the only serious objection one could have in a FastEthernet-, GigE- or 10GE-world. Luckily I don't need support. I have been supporting stuff like above for ten years so I can manage. I can even support your Cisco and Juniper-platforms as well. I can handle my monthly exabyte by myself, thank you very much.
    • I totally agree with your assessment here, but I don't see why anyone on the low end would want it either.

      1600s and 2600s are just dirt cheap now, even with WICs. You can't build a comparable x86 (runs on flash, 1u, low power consumption) for the price. And saving 200 bucks by building a crappy x86 really doesn't make any sense when you're paying $500+/mo for your actual T.

      I think everyone agrees that you won't get the performance of an asic-based router, so the only thing they have going for them is pric
  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:51PM (#15780618) Homepage
    ... interesting article [techworld.com] on TechWorld: A reality check for open source routing.

  • by burne ( 686114 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:53PM (#15780631)

    My former employer is using three relatively simple Tyan dual Xeons with a couple of Syskonnekt cards to shove 4-5 gigabits per second of traffic over the internet (yes, full routing, and over 240 peers on AMS-IX and NL-IX). Most of that is usenet (http://www.top1000.org/top1000.current.txt look for 'tweaknews') but well over a gigabit is DSL end user traffic and some hosting. Those boxes cost in the order of 7000 euro's a piece, and are about as stable as a cisco running an current IOS (not as stable as you'd like). 7 grand buys me a single linecard for a 7200 on the secondhand market, and no 7200 will do as much traffic.

    Cisco and Juniper: start getting scared *now*
    • I got a few concerns about diting my cisco and juniper boxen. I've blown a sup on cat 6000. for those of you not up on your cisco slang, a sup is your supervisor engine, analogus to a motherboard/processor pair. two thumb screws, one console cable and 10 minutes later. i was back on line. I cant see swapping out x86 platform that quick. I dont see something like statefull switch over in an x86 style platform. the hardware/software intergration for that is absolutly sick. while on the topic of x86...
    • My former employer is using three relatively simple Tyan dual Xeons with a couple of Syskonnekt cards to shove 4-5 gigabits per second of traffic over the internet (yes, full routing, and over 240 peers on AMS-IX and NL-IX). Most of that is usenet (http://www.top1000.org/top1000.current.txt look for 'tweaknews') but well over a gigabit is DSL end user traffic and some hosting. Those boxes cost in the order of 7000 euro's a piece, and are about as stable as a cisco running an current IOS (not as stable as y

  • by creepynut ( 933825 ) <teddy(slashdot)@NOsPam.teddybrown.ca> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @07:53PM (#15780633) Homepage
    "Initially, we believe that the x86 PC running Vyatta -- given the range"

    Reading from a distance, I thought that said VISTA, not Vyatta :)

    I was starting to think that Vista had lost so many features that the only thing it was good for was for setting up a really, really expensive router.

  • There are several other OSS solutions that can do this.

    But good luck getting support at 1:30 am when the thing goes wierdo on you and you need to reboot the thing, 500 miles away..
  • by brennz ( 715237 )
    If Vyatta is the "dawn of open source networking" then who the hell are these guys [imagestream.com]?
  • We (by that I mean geeks in the networking world) have been doing this for years...

    Why can't we think of ways to profit from this as these companies do??

    Damn, should have gone back and gotten that MBA...
  • A PC platform will not scale like a decent router will. The memory latency becomes the bottleneck once you start thrashing your CPU cache when you have a lot of routes or ACLs. For small setups, it might work, but it will not compete with dedicated hardware solutions once the complexity grows.

    I have implemented routers, and the biggest bottleneck is typically memory latency. Once the routing tables grow beyond what will fit in the cache, the latency kills you. Dedicated hardware routers are designed wit
  • by jbossvi ( 946552 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:22PM (#15781000)
    This keeps coming up every 6 months or so. To rehash it for you:

    1) performance wise a 6x PCI-X motherboard is rare and commodity computers are not built for the buses to independantly talk to each other without invoking cpu.
    2) feature wise you Have to have a RTOS or bad things happen when you try to implement QOS. speaking of features they have libraries full of books that talk about the *thousands* of features technologies that real routers implement (its hard to do that most companies spend tens/hundreds of millions to do this). implementing a few protocols/nat/firewall does not a router make.
    3) If you actually have been involved with these things you would know:
        -ds3/oc3/oc12's are not cheap... phone company bills of $100k a *month* is very common.
        -a couple network engineers $100k/year each
        -dedicated power/colo space/ups/generators $50+k/year
        -SLA's and peering arraingment... $$$
        -uptime to your customers measured in seconds of uptime (revenue $200+k/MONTH). ...... AND you want to save $30k by using a #@$%#$%#$% software router running on a DELL?????

    really, try explaining that to the CEO after the site has lost $10k/HOUR because something wonky is going on with the cpu or the memory oorrr it could be the kernel, I dunno I just rebooted the thing "cuz that usually fixes MY problems"... bye bye SLA.

    --jboss

  • It'll never, EVER challenge Cisco in the big iron market. Why? Simple. No IT manager has EVER been fired for buying Sun servers, Cisco routers/switches, or IBM PCs. Big iron isn't about open source. Big iron is about triple-redundant reliability, service contracts, and brand trust.
  • Sometimes purpose built products simply make more sense. Lets skip the obvious reasons like tested, reliable (hardware) platforms, extensive QA, depending on the user-base even more extensive discovery and bug reporting.

    Na, lets forget about the piddly stuff. I work at a systems admin: do you really want to build a product without the aforementioned benifits (hey, your production systems is now doing beta testing!) and take the heat for to save a few dollars?

    Sure, I'm sure it works pretty good. It might
    • As a counterpoint, I've had great success with software firewalls. The only hardware firewall I've dealt with extensively is Sonicwall, and to me its a nightmare trying to set it up properly and have everything locked down.

      Maybe I'm an idiot, but IPCop is much much easier to deal with. To me, its a lot more secure to have something very simple and obvious, than complex and confusing.

      Last year my small company was faced with a need to upgrade firewalls to accomodate more VPN tunnels to link home offices.
      • FTR, if you can manage the support and deal with irregularities as they might come up, as it sounds like your company probably can, I totally agree. I'd even go so far as to recommend ClarkConnect, personally.

        But these still don't deal with the issues of hardware/platform stability (yes, its a *lot* easier to design, troubleshoot and design driver modules if you control the platform first), QA (testing commercial *before* sending a product out the door), organized 'knowledge bases' (assuming your applianc
  • niche (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Neuropol ( 665537 )
    It's very parallel in it's nature in that a small networking company could present this as a cost effective option. I see how a small networking consultant company could actually push this towards the small business level. But I'm doubtful it could ever be presented at the public/community level for use in schools or public wi-fi rest areas when the state lays out stipulations regarding only accepting bids from Cisco based numbers and Cisco certified installers? More or less, mandating that tax payer invest
  • This isn't news. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rnxrx ( 813533 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:04PM (#15781133)
    I think we see some version of this article every few months - yet another revelation of an open source package that can turn PC's into routers. This isn't news. There have been various shapes and forms of routers on *NIX platforms for many, many years. Some of these platforms served (and still serve) as reference implementations of certain routing protocols.

    The common responses on here seem to revolve around the inability of PC hardware to handle high bandwidth. To an extent this is necessarily true. A general purpose PC is going to rely on its CPU to handle each packet traversing the box. Processors are fast and cheap and becoming faster and cheaper as time passes. Most commercial router vendors realized quite a while ago that any architecture whose perforance is based on a single, centrl CPU inherently represents an eventual bottleneck and thus a serious challenge to scalability. As such, most commercial routers have moved to a model where forwarding is pushed as far as possible from a control plane that is as discrete as possible.

    In other words, if we push the actual heavy lifting of forwarding out to distributed components (e.g. the interfaces themselves) then we're no longer left in a situation where our BGP process is vying for cycles and memory access with packets in transit. When properly implemented this means that I can be moving huge amounts of traffic through my router without interrupting network control traffic, management of the box, etc, etc.. It also means that by distributing packet switching they can hit massive performance levels with a comparitively modest CPU.

    At the high end with Cisco and Juniper you're paying for the development of some exotic ASIC's and some even more exotic interface hardware. You're also paying for the capability to support high density - PC platforms aren't going to support tens of 10G or hundreds of 1G interfaces any time soon. The capacity for redundant CPU's, stateful failover, etc is also worth remembering.

    At every level of Cisco and Juniper hardware you're paying for the ongoing development and maintenance of a highly complex codebase full of features that just aren't practical (or, in some situations, possible) for the OSS community to implement well. Implicit in this is a huge system test and regression faculty.

    I've used and deployed open source routers up to OC3 bandwidth. They worked and, for the most part, worked well when faced with relatively simple networking tasks - multihoming enterprises to the Internet, basic WAN routing, etc. My observation has been that these platfoms start to fall apart when faced with requirements for complex routing policies, fancy QoS, MPLS, etc.

    There's a definite place in the world for PC-based open source routing platforms - particularly at the edge of larger networks or in the midst of small and medium sized ones but I don't think Cisco and Juniper need to worry about being rendered completely obsolete any more than Oracle needs to worry about being driven completely out of business by MySQL or PG.

Feel disillusioned? I've got some great new illusions, right here!

Working...