when to upgrade 2610's versus spending the $ for smartnet

Discussion in 'Cisco' started by A. Yarrington, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. We've had a number of 2610 routers in use for about 3.5 years, now,
    along with a PIX 515urbun firewall. All along, we've forked over the
    dough to pay for smartnet agreements on each of them. Now, especially
    after our pix kicked the bucket a year-and-a-half ago, I'm starting to
    wonder how long we can expect these routers to keep purring..... I'm
    noticing that we're paying almost the replacement cost of 1 router in
    smartnet fees every year (for all 4 put together), but I wonder when
    our money might be better spent upgrading one of these per year?
    Anyone have a feel for how long I might expect these to keep chugging
    (they're always on, 24x7x365, so.....on our pix, the chassis fan
    croaked, almost frying the board....)?

    The only other reason I even think of going to the XM model is I hear
    they can do AAA authentication locally for the vpn client 3.x (so
    instead of having 1 preshared groupname and key, I can have 1 per user
    and be more secure....)
    A. Yarrington, Nov 20, 2003
    #1
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  2. In article <>,
    A. Yarrington <> wrote:
    >We've had a number of 2610 routers in use for about 3.5 years, now,
    >along with a PIX 515urbun firewall. All along, we've forked over the
    >dough to pay for smartnet agreements on each of them. Now, especially
    >after our pix kicked the bucket a year-and-a-half ago, I'm starting to
    >wonder how long we can expect these routers to keep purring..... I'm
    >noticing that we're paying almost the replacement cost of 1 router in
    >smartnet fees every year (for all 4 put together), but I wonder when
    >our money might be better spent upgrading one of these per year?
    >Anyone have a feel for how long I might expect these to keep chugging
    >(they're always on, 24x7x365, so.....on our pix, the chassis fan
    >croaked, almost frying the board....)?
    >
    >The only other reason I even think of going to the XM model is I hear
    >they can do AAA authentication locally for the vpn client 3.x (so
    >instead of having 1 preshared groupname and key, I can have 1 per user
    >and be more secure....)


    My experience is that SmartNet is a waste of money for "hardware
    protection" on low-end routers. However, it can be invaluable
    for troubleshooting problems once you get past the easy, obvious
    failures. Many people also use it as a substitute for design skills. It
    can also be cost effective for IOS upgrades if you're running a
    feature rich (aka expensive) feature set.

    Rather than replace your routers, consider buying a spare or two with
    the savings. Put them to use in the meantime your test lab for trying
    out design changes and torture testing your current design. But the
    bottom line is that only you can determine what SmartNet coverage
    is worth to you. Of course, you do want to consider some worst case
    scenarios, such as you being the only networking guru on the payroll
    and what shape the company will be in when you leave without notice
    for greener pastures.

    Good luck and have fun!
    --
    Vincent C Jones, Consultant Expert advice and a helping hand
    Networking Unlimited, Inc. for those who want to manage and
    Tenafly, NJ Phone: 201 568-7810 control their networking destiny
    http://www.networkingunlimited.com
    Vincent C Jones, Nov 21, 2003
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. In article <>,
    A. Yarrington <> wrote:
    :We've had a number of 2610 routers in use for about 3.5 years, now,

    :I'm noticing that we're paying almost the replacement cost of 1 router in
    :smartnet fees every year (for all 4 put together), but I wonder when
    :eek:ur money might be better spent upgrading one of these per year?

    We faced much the same issue for the (non-Cisco) switches we installed.
    Support contracts ran to 25% per year, and we had at least a dozen units.
    So for us, if the average failure rate was going to be less than 3 units
    per year then support was not going to be cost-effective.

    So, what we did was buy one extra unit right at the time of purchase
    and kept it on hand as a spare. We've used the spare a couple of times;
    units have failed in the several years since, but none of the units has
    failed permanently. More often than not, we end up using the spare
    for lower priority connections that are nice to have but which we could
    afford to shut down if we ever had an urgent situation. The strategy has
    paid off: we've saved enough money on support to be able to buy tne new
    next (cheaper!) generation of switches should we need to.

    But.... the vendor does not upgrade software very often for the switches
    we put in, and has always made software upgrades free for that particular
    switch line. The situation would be somewhat different for the 2610
    routers: 4 years of software upgrades on the 2610 would have been
    a big functionality jump. Still, sometimes the way to handle that is
    to just buy a software upgrade after a few years, instead of paying
    software maint.
    --
    Warhol's Second Law of Usenet: "In the future, everyone will troll
    for 15 minutes."
    Walter Roberson, Nov 21, 2003
    #3
  4. A. Yarrington

    shope Guest

    "Vincent C Jones" <> wrote in message
    news:bpjms2$s27$...
    > In article <>,
    > A. Yarrington <> wrote:
    > >We've had a number of 2610 routers in use for about 3.5 years, now,
    > >along with a PIX 515urbun firewall. All along, we've forked over the
    > >dough to pay for smartnet agreements on each of them. Now, especially
    > >after our pix kicked the bucket a year-and-a-half ago, I'm starting to
    > >wonder how long we can expect these routers to keep purring..... I'm
    > >noticing that we're paying almost the replacement cost of 1 router in
    > >smartnet fees every year (for all 4 put together), but I wonder when
    > >our money might be better spent upgrading one of these per year?
    > >Anyone have a feel for how long I might expect these to keep chugging
    > >(they're always on, 24x7x365, so.....on our pix, the chassis fan
    > >croaked, almost frying the board....)?


    1 thing to remember - smartnet is seriously expensive for hardware maint (or
    it is in europe anyway).

    you might want to try to find some competition, but remember that you want
    software support / upgrades as well as hardware swap to be equivalent to
    smartnet.

    > >
    > >The only other reason I even think of going to the XM model is I hear
    > >they can do AAA authentication locally for the vpn client 3.x (so
    > >instead of having 1 preshared groupname and key, I can have 1 per user
    > >and be more secure....)

    >
    > My experience is that SmartNet is a waste of money for "hardware
    > protection" on low-end routers. However, it can be invaluable
    > for troubleshooting problems once you get past the easy, obvious
    > failures. Many people also use it as a substitute for design skills. It
    > can also be cost effective for IOS upgrades if you're running a
    > feature rich (aka expensive) feature set.
    >
    > Rather than replace your routers, consider buying a spare or two with
    > the savings. Put them to use in the meantime your test lab for trying
    > out design changes and torture testing your current design. But the
    > bottom line is that only you can determine what SmartNet coverage
    > is worth to you. Of course, you do want to consider some worst case
    > scenarios, such as you being the only networking guru on the payroll
    > and what shape the company will be in when you leave without notice
    > for greener pastures.


    Vincent - you are assuming easy access to the routers, and that swap out is
    "quick enough" to justify roll your own rather than a maint. contract.

    This works ok - so long as you can get the spare to the location when stuff
    fails and then get it working
    -and it has been tested,
    -and it works,
    -and it has the right options in it (e.g different types of ISDN in
    different countries, T1 vs E1 etc),
    -and you can either send someone to config it, or it has a config you can
    get to remotely once it is plugged in

    Maint is supposed to sort out this stuff as well - but it costs lots of $. i
    know if 1 example where the network goes to over 100 countries in 4
    continents....

    So if you must do diy maint - power up your spares and check they work now
    and again, and / or rotate them through your working system. Upgrade the
    code for spares as well as live kit (which is part of smartnet, but for IP
    only you can buy a new licence more cheaply at current code levels at least
    on small 26xx routers)

    Usual way to figure out if maint is "worth it" is to treat it as insurance -
    figure out the failure rate, and the time to fix, and estimate down time
    from that.


    >
    > Good luck and have fun!
    > --
    > Vincent C Jones, Consultant Expert advice and a helping hand
    > Networking Unlimited, Inc. for those who want to manage and
    > Tenafly, NJ Phone: 201 568-7810 control their networking destiny
    > http://www.networkingunlimited.com

    --
    Regards

    Stephen Hope - remove xx from email to reply
    shope, Nov 23, 2003
    #4
  5. shope <> wrote:
    >"Vincent C Jones" <> wrote in message
    >>
    >> My experience is that SmartNet is a waste of money for "hardware
    >> protection" on low-end routers. However, it can be invaluable
    >> for troubleshooting problems once you get past the easy, obvious
    >> failures. Many people also use it as a substitute for design skills. It
    >> can also be cost effective for IOS upgrades if you're running a
    >> feature rich (aka expensive) feature set.
    >>
    >> Rather than replace your routers, consider buying a spare or two with
    >> the savings. Put them to use in the meantime your test lab for trying
    >> out design changes and torture testing your current design. But the
    >> bottom line is that only you can determine what SmartNet coverage
    >> is worth to you. Of course, you do want to consider some worst case
    >> scenarios, such as you being the only networking guru on the payroll
    >> and what shape the company will be in when you leave without notice
    >> for greener pastures.

    >
    >Vincent - you are assuming easy access to the routers, and that swap out is
    >"quick enough" to justify roll your own rather than a maint. contract.


    I was not aware I was making any such assumptions... but if you read
    my response that way, than the original poster may have as well and I
    appreciate your clarification. Incidentally, if swap out is not "quick
    enough" the solution is a network design which does not include that
    piece of hardware as a single point of failure, because swap out will
    take hours to days no matter who does it. On the other hand, I agree
    100% with your caveats, and could add many more (and do in my book...).

    >This works ok - so long as you can get the spare to the location when stuff
    >fails and then get it working
    >-and it has been tested,
    >-and it works,
    >-and it has the right options in it (e.g different types of ISDN in
    >different countries, T1 vs E1 etc),
    >-and you can either send someone to config it, or it has a config you can
    >get to remotely once it is plugged in


    One advantage of "DIY" is you can load the correct config before
    handing it over to the overnight courier, reducing the level of skill
    required at the installation site. In this sense, DIY could be
    considered a midpoint between "standard" SmartNet and OnSite SmartNet.

    >Maint is supposed to sort out this stuff as well - but it costs lots of $. i
    >know if 1 example where the network goes to over 100 countries in 4
    >continents....


    Yes, although Cisco onsite service availability is not available even
    in many areas of the US. And thinking through all the possibilities
    does take work, which some people don't have the time or energy to think
    through.

    >So if you must do diy maint - power up your spares and check they work now
    >and again, and / or rotate them through your working system. Upgrade the
    >code for spares as well as live kit (which is part of smartnet, but for IP
    >only you can buy a new licence more cheaply at current code levels at least
    >on small 26xx routers)
    >
    >Usual way to figure out if maint is "worth it" is to treat it as insurance -
    >figure out the failure rate, and the time to fix, and estimate down time
    >from that.


    The trick is to figure out the failure rate to plug into the
    calculation! Plus the "time to fix" is almost always grossly
    underestimated :) and the cost of the repair is assumed to be zero
    if you're on salary. Also watch out for application changes, staffing
    changes, business growth and other factors which can raise or lower
    the cost of down time after the maintenance approach has been in
    place for awhile.

    >--
    >Regards
    >
    >Stephen Hope


    Been there, done that, been burnt! The correct answer is "It depends!"
    --
    Vincent C Jones, Consultant Expert advice and a helping hand
    Networking Unlimited, Inc. for those who want to manage and
    Tenafly, NJ Phone: 201 568-7810 control their networking destiny
    http://www.networkingunlimited.com
    Vincent C Jones, Nov 24, 2003
    #5
  6. Interesting commentary by all on my original question! I would have
    to say I've gotten more 'value' out of smartnet in configuration
    assistance (which then turns into 'knowledge' for me, hence, a source
    of learning) than I have out of the hardware guarantees. We did have
    a pix kick the bucket, for which smartnet was a budget-saver (13K
    replacement for free...), but so far, the 2610s are operating like the
    proverbial 'prolinea 486 that sits in the corner running OS/2'....they
    just keep ticking. I just begin to wonder how long that chassis fan
    in the router that sits 1300 miles away from me in an office in
    Florida is going to keep ticking....or the one in Kentucky that is
    still longer than a 'quick-swap' away..... get the picture? ;)

    l (Vincent C Jones) wrote in message news:<bprmtc$5tr$>...
    > shope <> wrote:
    > >"Vincent C Jones" <> wrote in message
    > >>
    > >> My experience is that SmartNet is a waste of money for "hardware
    > >> protection" on low-end routers. However, it can be invaluable
    > >> for troubleshooting problems once you get past the easy, obvious
    > >> failures. Many people also use it as a substitute for design skills. It
    > >> can also be cost effective for IOS upgrades if you're running a
    > >> feature rich (aka expensive) feature set.
    > >>
    > >> Rather than replace your routers, consider buying a spare or two with
    > >> the savings. Put them to use in the meantime your test lab for trying
    > >> out design changes and torture testing your current design. But the
    > >> bottom line is that only you can determine what SmartNet coverage
    > >> is worth to you. Of course, you do want to consider some worst case
    > >> scenarios, such as you being the only networking guru on the payroll
    > >> and what shape the company will be in when you leave without notice
    > >> for greener pastures.

    > >
    > >Vincent - you are assuming easy access to the routers, and that swap out is
    > >"quick enough" to justify roll your own rather than a maint. contract.

    >
    > I was not aware I was making any such assumptions... but if you read
    > my response that way, than the original poster may have as well and I
    > appreciate your clarification. Incidentally, if swap out is not "quick
    > enough" the solution is a network design which does not include that
    > piece of hardware as a single point of failure, because swap out will
    > take hours to days no matter who does it. On the other hand, I agree
    > 100% with your caveats, and could add many more (and do in my book...).
    >
    > >This works ok - so long as you can get the spare to the location when stuff
    > >fails and then get it working
    > >-and it has been tested,
    > >-and it works,
    > >-and it has the right options in it (e.g different types of ISDN in
    > >different countries, T1 vs E1 etc),
    > >-and you can either send someone to config it, or it has a config you can
    > >get to remotely once it is plugged in

    >
    > One advantage of "DIY" is you can load the correct config before
    > handing it over to the overnight courier, reducing the level of skill
    > required at the installation site. In this sense, DIY could be
    > considered a midpoint between "standard" SmartNet and OnSite SmartNet.
    >
    > >Maint is supposed to sort out this stuff as well - but it costs lots of $. i
    > >know if 1 example where the network goes to over 100 countries in 4
    > >continents....

    >
    > Yes, although Cisco onsite service availability is not available even
    > in many areas of the US. And thinking through all the possibilities
    > does take work, which some people don't have the time or energy to think
    > through.
    >
    > >So if you must do diy maint - power up your spares and check they work now
    > >and again, and / or rotate them through your working system. Upgrade the
    > >code for spares as well as live kit (which is part of smartnet, but for IP
    > >only you can buy a new licence more cheaply at current code levels at least
    > >on small 26xx routers)
    > >
    > >Usual way to figure out if maint is "worth it" is to treat it as insurance -
    > >figure out the failure rate, and the time to fix, and estimate down time
    > >from that.

    >
    > The trick is to figure out the failure rate to plug into the
    > calculation! Plus the "time to fix" is almost always grossly
    > underestimated :) and the cost of the repair is assumed to be zero
    > if you're on salary. Also watch out for application changes, staffing
    > changes, business growth and other factors which can raise or lower
    > the cost of down time after the maintenance approach has been in
    > place for awhile.
    >
    > >--
    > >Regards
    > >
    > >Stephen Hope

    >
    > Been there, done that, been burnt! The correct answer is "It depends!"
    A. Yarrington, Nov 25, 2003
    #6
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