What Platform for a small ISP (was: Cisco 7600 (7609) as a core BGP router)

Richard A Steenbergen ras at e-gerbil.net
Wed Jul 22 14:31:36 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 09:39:25AM -0400, R. Benjamin Kessler wrote:
> There has been a lot of good feedback regarding the deficiencies of the
> 7600 platform...
> So, the new question is: what platforms should a small, start-up ISP
> consider when looking to provide Ethernet services to their customers?
> - Scalability - 100M, 1G, 10G access speeds (backplane limitations,
> number of ports per chassis, etc.)
> - MPLS Capabilities
> - QoS Features
> - Ease of configuration and support, etc. (finding NOC talent, scripting
> tools, etc.)
> - Software/Hardware "stability" and "longevity" (we don't want something
> that is brand-new and therefore "buggy" nor do we want something that is
> going EOL next year)
> - Bang for the buck (both acquisition and on-going maintenance and
> support)

People use the 6500/7600 platform because it is dirt cheap, it mostly
works especially if you aren't doing anything too interesting or complex
with it (and if you have to ask, you probably aren't), and there is an
unlimited supply of "talent" (if you can call it that) who understands
basic IOS. If you're really a small ISP looking for a safe bet, this is
a fine choice. It's also available in quantity and for cheap on the used
market, which is probably where you want to go as a small ISP.

If on the other hand you're looking for a "good" platform and money is
no object, the Juniper MX is the unquestioned leader in this space. 
Unfortunately it costs quite a bit more than a 6500/7600 (around 4x-10x
more depending on how good a deal you get on one, and how bad a deal you
get on the other), but you do get what you pay for. :)

The other players in this space are the Foundry MLX/XMR and Force10. 
Each has their advantages and disadvantages compared to Cisco, and may
be more appropriate for some people under some circumstances, but at the
end of the day they are both terribly flawed products too just in
different ways. Cisco still comes out with the significant price
advantage though, especially on the used market, which means for "most"
people who have to ask this type of question the 6500/7600 is the way to

Richard A Steenbergen <ras at e-gerbil.net>       http://www.e-gerbil.net/ras
GPG Key ID: 0xF8B12CBC (7535 7F59 8204 ED1F CC1C 53AF 4C41 5ECA F8B1 2CBC)

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