WAN link managers make the connections
FatPipe, FiberLogic devices aggregate multiple leased line, Internet links for reliability boost
See correction below
High-speed WAN links are becoming more common and less expensive, but not necessarily more reliable.
Enter the WAN link aggregators. The ability to link offices with a combination of leased lines and Internet connections makes WAN-link managers and aggregators a great solution for organizations moving from leased lines to Internet connections, or those that need to back up Internet connections. By aggregating multiple private or Internet WAN connections, these devices increase both WAN reliability and throughput.
Two new products, FatPipe Networks’ IPVPN and the FiberLogic OptiQroute 2100 series, enable secure multilink connections among central and branch offices as well as multiple routes to the Internet.
The IPVPN and OptiQroute can create virtual tunnels between sites using leased lines, direct connections, and Internet connections, including T1/E1, T3/E3, DSL, OC-3, ISDN, wireless, cable, and frame relay. Virtually any router can be used, even dialup PST routers.
FatPipe is the veteran of the two vendors, with several years and several products in this space. Each FatPipe product meets very specific needs. FatPipe Warp does WAN connection load balancing, the MPVPN handles multiple frame-relay links, and the IPVPN specializes in handling multiple frame-relay or Internet connections. The IPVPN is priced from $6,500 to $21,000, depending on the WAN link speeds supported and whether or not dual power supplies are included.
FiberLogic is relatively new on the scene. A Taiwanese company with no current U.S. presence, it expects to open a stateside sales office in September. This means support is limited — currently there is no sales or support infrastructure in the United States — but OptiQroute is packed with features that include Web-server load balancing, a firewall, and bandwidth-shaping, all at a very good price. OptiQroute starts at $1,800 for two WAN links, moving to $6,000 for the eight-port model I tested.
Testing focused on verifying functionality as I put the devices through their paces. Both support multiple WAN links, but their 10/100 WAN connections should have no trouble handling any usual WAN connection. The IPVPN is not intended to handle more than T-3 speeds, and is sold based on throughput capacity, which ranges from 2Mbps to 50Mbps.
I simulated WAN links using Shunra Storm, and used two of each device to create multiple links, beginning with two simulated frame-relay (leased-line) links, then one frame relay and one DSL to the Internet, then one frame relay, one DSL line, and one T1. In each case, both devices detected failed connections and rerouted traffic on the still-functioning links. Functionality proved solid, so the choice between IPVPN and OptiQroute came down to cost and feature sets.
The IPVPN is based on a 4U (7.5-inch) industrial chassis, which is normally configured with four 10/100 cards, three for WAN links and one for the internal LAN link. Additional options include GbE and additional links, and other features such as dual power supplies or redundant units.