Cisco injects old 7200 with new power
New core modules let admins upgrade routers without unrackingFollow @pvenezia
I had two Cisco 7206 routers in the lab, equipped with the new NPE-G2 as well as the VSA module. The testing I conducted was based around high-speed VPN configurations, basically AES and 3DES VPNs running at gigabit speeds between the routers. To drive all the testing, I relied on a Spirent SmartBits chassis with a few gigabit interfaces to generate traffic through the VPN constructed between the two 7206 routers. Cisco’s VPN performance claims were well founded, with my results showing just under wire-speed gigabit IPSec VPN operation between the two routers. Even without the VPN in place, I was able to achieve just under wire-rate throughout the testing, with a max of 960Mb throughput.
As with nearly every mid- to high-end Cisco device, proper configuration and maintenance can be a challenge for the uninitiated. It’s certainly not something to be done casually, nor without the proper training and experience. Cisco IOS has long been the bane as well as the savior of networking. Hideously complex in places, and obscenely powerful and configurable in others, it’s the stuff of legend. Just trying to navigate through the Cisco Web site’s software support matrix to determine the proper IOS version and sub-version for a specific piece of hardware can be trying, not to mention the half-dozen or so authentication requests as you navigate through the process. High-end internetworking has never been, nor is ever likely to be simple, but sometimes it seems that Cisco’s being purposefully obtuse in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Cisco’s attempts at providing GUI tools for their hardware has never really produced a workable mid-range solution, although the Cisco Network Assistant (CNA) application for switched infrastructures does a fairly decent job of simplifying common administration tasks such as VLAN port assignments without requiring the massive financial and physical resources needed to implement their high-end CiscoWorks suite. CNA doesn’t support the devices at the top of the Cisco food chain, such as the Catalyst 6509 or the 7200 routers. Cisco has been pushing SDM (Security Device Manager), a new GUI for their higher-end devices, however, and the 7200 is supported for basic routing configurations as well as advanced features such as firewall, VPN, QoS, and IPS configurations. This is a relatively new step for Cisco, and a good one, although it will certainly be eschewed by Cisco CLI gurus.
Overall, the power and functionality present in the 7200 series routers is certainly worth the investment. Cisco’s “new” 7200 is a worthwhile new take on an already solid platform.