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Pain with Routers. Meet Cisco

A couple of years ago I bought a router Cisco 851W at Buy.com. It is an expensive piece, but has a lot of great features. After I set it up, I decided to upgrade firmware, but I got very quickly disappointed. Yes, you can go and register your router (by the way, it is only for organizations, Cisco does not care if you use it at home), but it does not give ability to download upgrades unless you bought a router directly from Cisco or purchased a support contract from them. The problem is its firmware if not bug free. That means if you do not have a support contract, well, do not just assume your network is secure. If you did not get yet what I am talking about, here is an example. You bought a Toyota Camry. A few months later Toyota finds that it has faulty parts and need to do a recall. Instead of cleaning up its mess, if Toyota were Cisco, it would say, if you want to get our faulty parts replaced or fixed, you as a customer have to buy $10K maintenance contract [to fix bugs we created], and by the way, it is not covered by warranty.

I am not really sure whether this is a good business model. I bet it is successful for Cisco, but I really hope not for long. It is bad for resellers, because they need to realize they sell unsupported junk.

So why am I complaining now? I gave Cisco a good chance and just checked again whether Cisco has changed its mind. Yes! The support site got much slower and buggier, but the support model has not changed a bit. Pathetic state of the company whose primary business is network hardware. This is too much disrespect to customers. I am switching to another brand. Not Linksys. Linksys was great until it was acquired by Cisco.

And not Netgear. I got burned on them as well, when the product did not meet its description. The product description stated that the router supports logging of Internet activities. I thought, this means you can get a log of probes from the Internet. I was wrong, that log is a list of sites I was visiting.  Very “useful” feature, if you do not have memory.

If you have any suggestions, you are more than welcome to comment. I do not have very sophisticated requirements besides basic requirements. Wireless, supported (free firmware upgrades), VPN passthrough, port forwarding, support instant messaging, SNMP/logging (IP/port source/destination). Nice to have: package inspection,  be able to use Snort.

  1. June 14, 2011 at 00:30

    In light of recent security attacks (e.g. Sony, IMF, etc.) and knowing that Cisco routers are widespread, I see Cisco’s “Outsmart the threats” commercials during the NHL Stanley Cup finals as an outrageous scare-ware. Unfortunately, for Cisco, I see this as a way to cash in on recent security breaches.

    I understand that many of these incidents may have started from a compromised computer in a local network, but these commercials create a false sense of security, which is pretty dangerous.

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