Vyatta 3500: Large enterprise 10 GbE router play with an open source twist

Vyatta is going for larger enterprise players with its new 3500 series 10 gigabit Ethernet routers designed for data center connectivity. But these devices can also be used for intrusion prevention and content filtering and as a virtual server firewall.

Vyatta is clear on one thing when it comes to its new 3500 series 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) router: The product is not aimed at grabbing Cisco's largest enterprise customers. But if customers of the Cisco ASR 1006 (the most comparable product) want a router designed for data center connectivity at a fraction of the price, Vyatta's fits the bill.

What is it?

The Vyatta 3500 series -- designed for enterprise data center connectivity and as a security device -- has the company's signature open source operating system, runs on the Intel Xeon 5500 series, processes up to 3 million packets per second with traffic forwarding performance of up to 20 Gbps in both directions, and manages as many as 8,000 simultaneous IPSec VPN tunnels.

Vyatta's appliance (which is built on a Dell server) holds four 1 GbE onboard Ethernet ports with four PCI express slots for 16 additional 1 GbE or eight 10 GbE ports. The appliances start at just under $5,000, with 10 GbE ports at about $1,500 -- compared with $75,000 for the Cisco ASR, for which ports run at about $20,000. What's more, with Vyatta, customers won't constantly pay for upgrades as they must with Cisco, Vyatta marketing director Tom McCafferty points out. The company's solution will take you as fast your hardware will allow you to go.

Vyatta 3500 goes for more than routing

Beyond the routing, Vyatta says the 3500 can be used for intrusion prevention and content filtering. Some users may even employ the appliance simply for higher performance firewall and VPN with routing as a secondary benefit, McCafferty said.

Vyatta 10 Gigabit Ethernet router drawbacks?

So why not compete with Cisco? These routers are for midsized organizations that are growing, as opposed to companies with huge data centers. For one, the appliance doesn't have the port density of competitive products. There's also no SSL VPN client, which is something that has been requested by clients, McCafferty said. Some analysts point out that while enterprises are all seeking to cut costs, enterprise data center routers are not the place to scrimp.

On the other hand, for growing companies that can afford to take a little more risk or need to spike capacity as quickly as possible, going the Vyatta route may be attractive.

This was first published in February 2010

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