Should You Upgrade to a Business-Class Router? - Page 2

By Ronald Pacchiano
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Benefits of a Business-Class Router

What benefits can you expect from investing in a business-class router for your small business network? Well for starters networks with business-class routers support a lot more people more efficiently and reliably then SOHO routers ever could.

Remote connections alone place a lot of demand on a router, which can hamper performance for other network users. A router equipped with a fast processor and sufficient RAM will help maintain performance for everyone on the network.

Even more important, a business-class router provides a wider range of security features to protect your network. This includes a more sophisticated firewall, better antivirus, antispam and anti-spyware protection. This is also why a business router might be referred to by the term UTM, or Unified Threat Management, because it offers a range of security features for protecting your business network.

Even though your computers might already have antivirus software installed, Web security experts agree that adding another line of security on the network level significantly improves overall network security.

Many business-class routers can be configured to support multiple WAN ports. By having two dedicated WAN ports administrators can configure their network to support different performance scenarios. For example, routers equipped with dual WAN ports can be configured to use one as a primary and the other as a secondary. So in the event you’re primary ISP goes down, your network will still maintain Internet access via the secondary WAN connection.

Dual WAN ports also allow administrators to support load balancing. At times of increased network traffic, data packets can be distributed over both WAN connections to help minimize network congestion, thereby increasing overall network performance.

Business-class routers also give administrators far greater control over their network traffic thanks to advanced bandwidth management capabilities, which help improve quality of service (QoS). You can manage upstream and downstream bandwidth on either a service- or a port-based level. Plus, the admin can set each service to various priority levels to ensure that high-priority network traffic isn’t impeded on its way to its destination.

Unlike most SOHO routers that offer only VPN Pass-through service, which depends on a PC or server on the LAN to manage the VPN connections, business-class routers can often provide true VPN capabilities managed right from the router. This VPN capability creates encrypted "tunnels" through the Internet, allowing remote offices or traveling employees to securely link to your network via the public Internet.

The VPN features in business-class routers support full IPSec VPN capability using advanced encryption protocols to maintain privacy and security. In addition to end-user or client-to-gateway connections, business-class routers will also support IPSec tunnels for branch office connectivity, also known as gateway-to-gateway connectivity. This lets you link remote offices with your primary network.

Of course providing this type of service is dependent on a powerful broadband solution. Typical SOHO broadband routers can't provide the reliability needed to get the most of these types of connections, which is why business-class routers support dedicated circuit technologies like T1 lines, frame relay and ATM communications.

Another important differentiator is that business-class routers can support multiple global IP addresses. A global IP address is assigned to a computer or modem by an ISP and can be communicated with from anywhere on the Internet. Global IP addresses are unique and assigned only to a single computer or device. This is important if your company is looking to host its own Web server or email server.

You have many options when designing your small business network, and working with a qualified network engineer is the smart route to take. Remember, your network is your company’s greatest asset; it needs to it work well and be protected. If you decide that a business-class solution is right for your organization, please take the time to make sure it’s done right. After all, your business depends on it.

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This article was originally published on April 26, 2011
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