The Cisco 2800 Series is the replacement for the 2600 Series. In my opinion, the biggest advantage to the Cisco 2800 Series is its versatility; you can use a 2800 Series router in a small, midsize, or large organization. For most network administrators, I think the determining factor is the number and types of interfaces and not necessarily the throughput of the router.
There are four models in the Cisco 2800 Series:
2801: 2 DSP, 2FE, 2HWIC, 2VWIC/VIC, 0NME (Network Module Enhanced), 1Rack unit (RU)
2811: 2 DSP, 2FE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME, 1RU
2821: 3 DSP, 2GE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME or 1NME-X, 2RU
2851: 3 DSP, 2GE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME or NMD/NME-X/NME-XD, 2RU
(Cisco Systems provides a 2800 model comparison on its site.)
The 2800 Series is the first router in the Cisco product line that supports network modules. This means that if there is a network module that you require for your topology or application, the 2800 Series is the least expensive Cisco router (that’s currently available) that you can install it into.
The 2800 Series supports a slew of Cisco interfaces and models. In a Cisco 2800 Series router, you can install a range of network modules, which include the following:
36 port Ethernet switch with PoE
32 port async
8 port voice/fax module
Content engine with hard drive
Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
Cisco Unity Express (voicemail)
Cisco Network Analysis Module (NAM)
3G cellular WAN interface card
Wireless LAN controller
IP VSAT module
802.11a/b/g WLAN module
8 port HWIC module (to add 8 more HWIC cards)
For example, in a 2821 router, I could install 2 x 32 port Cisco Ethernet switch modules with PoE and use this router as a 64 port switch.
The 2800 Series supports the Cisco IOS, which provides options security (like the integrated stateful firewall), the Cisco Security Device Manager (SDM), 1500 VPN tunnels, Gig Ethernet, and redundant power (except for the 2801 router).
Why we bought the Cisco 2800 Series
At my company, we still have a lot of Cisco 2600 and 3600 Series routers. While not all my sites needed the power of these routers, we needed to use a network module card, and these router models were the first in the Cisco product line that supported those network modules. Specifically, we use NM-16A & NM-32A asynchronous serial modules to support serial devices at each location. The Cisco 2600 Series routers don’t have the CPU and RAM to support the latest IOS and to handle the current network traffic load. (Note: The last date to receive service and support for a 2600 Series is April 28, 2008.)
In my case, the Cisco 2800 Series is the ideal replacement for almost all our routers. We have been purchasing 2811 Series routers, installing a HWIC T1 card for MPLS WAN connectivity, and replacing existing routers at remote sites. We added a NM-16A or NM-32A modules to support the needs of our async devices. I have seen cases where putting in a 2800 Series immediately improved the performance for that remote location.
While I might be able to use a smaller router like an 1800, I need the NM slot from the 2800 Series, and I like the flexibility and power that the 2800 Series offers. Like the 2600 and 3600 Series routers, the 2800 Series has been extremely reliable; so far, not one 2800 Series has failed.
A downside to the Cisco 2800 Series is that it is loud. When I turned it on to configure it in my office, I couldn’t hear my coworkers or my phone.
If you are in the market for a new router (perhaps you’re looking to replace your aging 2600 and 3600 Series routers), I recommend taking a look at the Cisco 2800 Series. Based on my personal use, the Cisco 2800 Series is another rock solid router from Cisco that, like the 2600 and 3600 Series, will serve network admins for years to come.
The real case for the Cisco 2800 Series is that it offers a completely improved package: better performance, solid reliability, versatility of use, and a plethora of WAN interfaces and network modules that you can use to expand it. Also, since the 2600 Series will no longer be supported, the time to replace those routers with the 2800 is now.