Core router bakeoff?

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Fri May 8 01:30:34 UTC 1998

"John A. Tamplin" writes:
> On Thu, 7 May 1998, Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> > PCs are cheap and I know them well. I wasn't aware Cabletron even had
> > a box with a BGP-4 implementation in it.
> PCs are also designed with a mindset that saving $.10 on a component saves
> millions, encouraging overly cheap designs.  Considering the typical PC
> customer has no problem with rebooting their machine several times a day,
> that gives them plenty of room to cut corners without pissing off their
> primary client base.

That is an excellent theory. The problem is, once I get PCs running
BSD up, they typically remain up for hundreds of days, generally until
I have to reboot them -- crashes are extremely rare. They give me no
more hardware trouble than Ciscos. It might just be that I'm buying
better PCs than some, but I'm perfectly happy with the results.

> This is not to say that you can't build solid hardware, but the
> typical PC vendors simply do not have a level of quality sufficient
> for 24x7 operation.

If you have a decent fully redundant network, the failure of any
single component isn't going to knock you out of the water no matter
what you do. If you are depending on your hardware never crashing to
keep you afloat, I have bad news for you: all hardware can die, no
matter what the label says.

None the less, as I said...

> "Cheap" often winds up "expensive" when you count the cost of
> downtime. I said, I have experienced no greater downtime on modern PCs
than I have with any other sort of equipment, provided the machines
are running a real operating system and have passed burn-in

> We run all Cisco routers and have had exactly one failure on any box
> in 4 years (a power supply in a 4500).

I'm happy for you. I've got LOTS of PCs deployed in the field running
NetBSD, and the things don't die on me. I've had exactly one failure
in the last several years myself, and it was a disk crash. Luckily,
the machine had a mirrored drive and a quick swap put it back in

In short, unless you have numbers to indicate otherwise, I can't say
that PCs cost you much, in the short term or the long term.

What Cisco's will buy you is better handling of T3s, SONET, etc., and
the ability to handle much higher performance lines. They also have
much better remote management facilities, in so far as the things have 
real serial consoles and such, which PCs don't.


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