2U to 4U combined Gigabit switching and routing platform

Unanswered Question
Feb 9th, 2009

I'm looking for a single device with 16 or more copper gigabit interfaces that can perform NAT, CBAC, switching (multiple interfaces on the same VLAN), multicast, and BGP. I currently use a 3825 with Etherswitch modules but I want better performance and GigE rather than FastEthernet interfaces. It doesn't look like the Nexus 5000 or Catalyst 3750-e support NAT or CBAC. The ASR 1002 seems like an option but I'm unsure if I can make multiple interfaces part of the same VLAN with that device. Also the potential complexity of the ASR or Cat6500 series are intimidating. On device packet capture is a desired but not required feature.

I'm looking at Juniper's lineup as well but would prefer to stay Cisco only. Advice very much appreciated.

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Joseph W. Doherty Mon, 02/09/2009 - 21:53

Don't believe you can obtain the 16 or more on-board gig ports on a 7200 or 7300, nor the performance to support 16 or more Gbps. Your required IOS features, though, should be available. (If you don't truly need the gig ports on-board, and don't need wire rate performance, you might reconsider using a separate L2 [or L3] switch with VLAN trunks to a 7200/7300.)

The ASR series appears it might support the quanity of gig ports (using perhaps the SPA-8X1GE-V2 or SPA-10X1GE-V2) and the IOS features you need. However, you might run a bit short of Mpps, especially with the ASR 1002 (even using the ASR1000-ESP10), depending how hard you expect to push your gig ports. You can also run short of bandwidth at the SIP since it only supports 10 Gbps.

The next possible router would be a 6500/7600. They can easily provide the ports, and should be able to provide maximum performance. What's complex is IOS feature support since so much depends on installed components. If you pursue this class of device, you may want to obtain expert advice.

gregory6694 Wed, 02/11/2009 - 17:29

Thanks very much for the advice, Joseph. I'm getting comfortable but still not thrilled with the concept of a separate 3560-E and 7201 router. For my application I don't like the latency of packets going extra hops for NAT or CBAC. The ASR 1002 and Cat 6500/7600 options aren't too appealing for me due to complexity and cost.

One interesting option I came across using the Cisco Feature Navigator is the Catalyst Metro Ethernet 6524 as supporting NAT and CBAC. It looks to be a Cat 6500 with a Policy Feature Card 3C (PFC3C) and Multilayer Switch

Feature Card 2A (MSFC2A) and a slew of 10/100/1000 ports in a 1.5 RU package. The flexibility of a software or high end hardware router with the speed of a hardware switch in one small box.

I'm taking it to be simple as it is in a small, fixed configuration package, though maybe it in fact is as complex as a regular 6500.

One new feature I'd be excited to have that doesn't seem the be in the ME 6524/6500/7600 lineups yet (if ever?) is Embedded Packet Capture.

Is there a difference between the 24 "downlinks" and the 8 "uplinks" on this device? Or may they all be configured with the same flexibility?

Anyone have thoughts on the ME 6524 for my purposes or have relevant experience with the device? It seems to be marketed heavily to triple play providers but not for data center environments. I can't easily find any reviews in the press. Could this device be approached by a user at the ISR level?

Joseph W. Doherty Wed, 02/11/2009 - 19:27

With regard to latency between an external switch and router, it would certainly add some, but we're probably dealing in the few milliseconds to even less than one millisecond range. Also, depending what device is doing all the routing, i.e. the L3 switch or router, might determine how powerful a L3 switch you need (e.g. 3560-E vs. 3560) or whether you even need a L3 switch (2960G for just port expansion). If the L3 switch is doing most routing, a smaller ISR might do. (I find for small to medium branches, the 3560/3750 very nice for basic LAN routing [support gig bandwidths] with an ISR for WAN routing [supports advanced IOS features].)

I too had noticed the ME-C6524GT-8S as a possible solution, but haven't work with one.

According to table 3 in http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/switches/ps6568/ps6845/ps6846/product_data_sheet0900aecd8040657e.html there are differences between the "downlink" and "uplink" ports.

Also note, neither the PPS or fabric can support wire speed on all ports.

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