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22 May 2006  
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All about networking

Gigabit Ethernet is the LAN technology to adopt. On the WAN front, MPLS VPN is a good bet. Wi-Fi has strong points but will not replace Ethernet soon

Today’s SMBs have quite a number of networking options to shop for. For example, Internet connectivity is officially ‘broadband’ now and the new corporate LAN is described in Gigabit speeds. WAN connectivity is going wireless, and bandwidth costs have almost halved with IP VPN and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) VPN centralising the structure of organisations.

Uniting users

The first step in networking is LAN connectivity. Here the recommended physical layer is Cat 6 cabling as it can run Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). Cat 6 cabling has been around for a while and prices have reduced as its adoption has increased. If your PCs have 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet interface cards and you are rolling out a new network or rewiring an existing one, it is best to go in for a GbE network.

For instance, Jagatjit Industries, which make liquor, have seven manufacturing plants and 13 branches. Only the offices in Delhi and Mumbai are connected using a leased line. In their existing infrastructure, they use Cat 5 cabling and Fast Ethernet but for future implementations they are looking at Cat 6a and Gigabit Ethernet. Pankaj Parikh, Corporate IT Manager, Zandu Pharmaceuticals is of the view that Cat 6a is a good choice as it supports 1 Gbps transmission.

However, if you are stuck with older PCs that have 10/100 Mbps Ethernet interfaces, you are better off with Cat 6 cabling and GbE switching. Many GbE switches are backward-compatible and will give you the freedom to scale up network throughput during your next PC upgrade cycle for a marginal cost. While there are cheaper options available in terms of Cat 5 or Cat 5e and 10/100 Ethernet switches, Cat 6 and GbE offer better future-proofing and performance for your investments.

On the software side, using a Windows OS older than Windows 2000/XP is not recommended if you want to take advantage of GbE. This is due to the fact that the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) stack in Windows versions below 2000/XP does not support Ethernet speeds above 100 Mbps.

The right switch

It is important to check for backward compatibility when buying a GbE switch. All the switch ports should be compatible with 10/100 Mbps speeds as well rather than just operating at 1,000 Mbps.

A switch’s throughput has to be checked next. For example, the typical GbE switch will permit 1,000 Mbps each of downstream and upstream traffic in full duplex mode. This means that total throughput per port is 2 Gbps. So the total switch throughput is 2 Gbps multiplied by the total number of ports. The switch’s total throughput specification should not go below this figure. The same logic operates if you are going in for a 10/100 Mbps switch.

Mahesh Chand Gupta, Senior Manager, IT, Jagatjit Industries says, “Switches and routers are chosen based on the life of the product. Features like portability, reliability, and manageability are considered.” For instance, when Jagatjit wanted to go in for routers and switches in their main office that has about 100 users; they opted for Cisco routers and switches even though these are costlier than equipment provided by D-link. “This is because according to our experience, Cisco switches and routers are more reliable and scalable, and they have no downtime. For smaller branches in our company that have less stringent needs, we opt for D-link,” says Gupta.

Switches should be remotely manageable via SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). This is important if you plan to integrate switch management with infrastructure management (IM) tools.

VLAN (Virtual LAN) capabilities are the next thing to look out for. These help you set up virtually segmented LANs using the same switch for better performance and easier management.

Check the routes

A majority of the SMBs prefer hardware routers as they are more reliable and easier to deploy and manage than the software variety, particularly as the typical SMB has a small IT team.

There are two broad categories of routers—core and access. Core routers are used for connecting distributed networks (WAN) whereas access (gateway) routers are used for connecting a company to the Internet.

The primary features to look out for in a router are support for multiple network protocols, networking interfaces, and routing protocols. Your requirements have to be spelled out clearly beforehand. Access Control Lists (ACL), Radius (Remote authentication dial-in user service) authentication, SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) firewall, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) are some useful security features to look out for.

One can also opt for integrated routers with in-built security. Routers with features such as VPN, security and wireless capability are also available.

Apart from standard console-based and GUI (Graphic User Interface) management, it should be possible to manage a router over the Internet. Availability and QoS (Quality of Service) are also important considerations.

Bandwidth and options

On the connectivity front, there are wider options due to factors such as slashed bandwidth pricing and multiple service providers. For the average SMB, the most cost-effective Internet access option is Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).

DSL services from players such as BSNL, MTNL, Airtel and Tata Indicom (after their Dishnet acquisition) offer connections with throughputs of 256 Kbps. These are sufficient to meet the access requirements of most SMBs. For backup, dial-up can provide redundancy.

However, SMBs who need a more reliable connection than what broadband DSL provides will have to go in for T1 lines. Those in remote locations may require Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs). These links can also be used for connecting sites on a WAN. Wi-Fi point-to-point links are also being used by various service providers to provide WAN or Internet access links.

Another significant trend is adoption of service-based network access cards like CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). These are offered by Reliance Infocomm and Tata Indicom. These are being widely adopted by organisations for providing Internet access to their mobile executives.

Support, QoS and SLAs

Irrespective of the kind of connectivity, support is the first thing to look out for. The provider must be able to lend 24/7 support and onsite service.

QoS is the next parameter to consider and an SLA (Service Level Agreement) is the best way to ensure this as it defines parameters such as guaranteed throughput, availability, allowed downtime, and support to help a business keep track of whether the vendor provides the promised quality of service.

Penalty clauses in the SLA will cover any loss of business that might result if the said levels are not met. D Vijaykumar, Manager, IT, The Himalaya Drug Co is of the view that SLA assures the user on the level of service he is paying for. Hence the service provider needs to stand by it.

The number of static IPs that the service provider will give is also an essential pre-requisite. Find out the number of static IPs that you require and negotiate to get the best deal before signing up.

No strings attached

Today, the term wireless usually refers to networks based on the Wi-Fi standards. Wi-Fi is a term that encompasses several wireless network protocols (typically LANs)—IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, and IEEE 802.11g.

The use of 802.11b and g is legal in India, whereas the usage of 802.11a is restricted. Of the two 802.11 flavours, ie b and g, the latter is the better option due to its higher throughput (54 Mbps as opposed to 11 Mbps).

The rate of Wi-Fi adoption has been particularly low in the Indian enterprise, especially among SMBs. The main areas of Wi-Fi adoption are those where mobile computing is a requirement, or where easily deployable networks for specialised applications are necessary.

Setting up a Wi-Fi network requires a wireless router or access point and transceivers on the client device—PCI USB cards for desktops and PCMCIA cards for laptops. Laptops like those based on the Intel Centrino chipset have built-in 802.11g or b access and these do not require transceivers. It is better to go in for wireless devices and networks using 802.11g rather than the slower (and buggy) 802.11b devices. Almost all 802.11g-based wireless devices are backward compatible with 802.11b.

802.11b-based point-to-point links have been used by Indian enterprises for Internet and WAN connectivity for a while now. Some recent deployments use the faster 802.11g.



Baseline Switch 2226-PWR Plus

Features: This 1U switch offers capacity of up to 8.8 Gbps. It has 24 10/100 ports and has two dual-purpose Gigabit ports that support copper or multimode shortwave fibre (1000BASE-SX) or multimode longwave fibre (1000BASE-LX) connections.
Price: Rs 84,175
Telephone: 80 22267272/228
Website: www.3com.com

Baseline Switch 2226 plus

It has 24 10/100 ports and two dual-purpose ports. Features include traffic monitoring (port mirroring) and support for up to 64 802.1Q VLANs. Users can configure individual port speeds and VLANs, aggregate links, and set traffic priorities.
Price: Rs 24,375

OfficeConnect Gigabit Switch

Five non-blocking, autosensing 10/100/1000 ports, a clipping system for easier physical stacking, 802.1p traffic prioritisation, and auto MDI/MDIX on every port. Major features include full-duplex feature and connectors at rear that help reduce cable clutter.
Price: Rs 10,985

Allied Telesyn


Features: This is a stackable 1U Gigabit high-end switch with 24 x 10/100/1000T + 4SFP combo. It can be stacked up to 288 ports with 40Gbps dedicated stack ports. It supports Layer 2 to 3 filtering, Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 IP routing. For fibre media it has 4 SFP bays. Major features of this switch include QoS for multimedia applications, eight priority queues per port and GVRP VLAN support. It supports up to 4,000 VLANs and Jumbo frames up to 9,000 bytes. The management features include SNMP support, RMON support and port mirroring.
Price: Rs 1,61,983
Telephone: 22 30682228/2223
Website: www.alliedteleysn.com


It is a Layer 2 1U managed switch with 24x10/100/1000TX with 4-combo SFP slots. It supports Rapid Spanning Tree and Radius protocols. It has four priority queues per port and VLAN tagging. The device uses 16MB RAM. The flash memory is 4MB and data transfer rate is 1Gbps.
Price: Rs 52,650


This is a Layer 2 managed enhanced stacking switch with 24x10/100 TX + 10/100/1000T ports. It offers 9.6Gbps switched fabric. The main features include enhanced stacking, Web-based management, SNMP support and IEEE 802.1Q VLAN tagging.
Price: Rs 27,540


DX -57 49XGS

Features: This is a Layer 3 switch with 48 fixed 10/100/1000 Base Tx Ethernet ports. It has 4 (shared) un-populated mini GBIC Gigabit Ethernet ports and built-in 10G stacking ports. It includes Unique 10G support in Dax DX 5749XGS. It offers a throughput of 86.3 Mbps. It has 10 Gigabit real stacking capability. Major features include Link Aggregation (802.3ad & LACP) and IEEE 802.1Q tagged or port based VLAN.
Price: Rs 514,210
Telephone: 44 24323558/7
Website: www.daxnetworks.com


This is an 8-port 10/100 Mbps N-way switch with external power supply. It has a 1.6 Gbps back plane. It has store and forward switching technology. The other features include flow control facility.
Price: Rs 1,780


GigaX 2124X

Features: Wire-speed Gigabit architecture, Line rate forwarding, Jumbo frame length of up to 10K packets, 802.1X security with Radius authentication, 4 priority queues per port, IGMP snooping, network management interface: CLI, Telnet, SNMP, RMON, Web-based GUI, support for RPS (Redundant Power Supply), swappable fan module and virtual cable tester (VCT) that detects cable integrity.
Price: Rs 33,000
Telephone: 91 9820483363
Website: www.asus.com.tw

GigaX 1024P

This rack-mountable switch provides non-blocking, wire-speed performance and easy management to meet your network demands. It features auto-sensing, and auto MDI/MDIX Ethernet ports with flow control and QoS ability.
Price: Rs 8,050


ERS 5510 /5520 /5530

Features: It comes with 24 or 48 10/100/1000 ports with or without PoE. The 5530 has 24 10/100/1000 ports with optional 12 SFP and two 10G slots. It supports end-point security and has IP phone discovery and configuration. It provides 80 G stack bandwidth and RPSU support. It offers up to 640Gbps of switching capacity in an eight-switch stack using Nortel Ethernet routing switch. A failed device can be hot-swapped in the stack. It can acquire software and configuration files without requiring a stack reboot. It enables quick per-port configuration of basic security features.
Price: Rs 468,707 for ERS-5530-24T
Telephone: 80 5527 8040
Website: www.nortel.com

ERS 5500 Switch Series

It delivers performance of up to 640 Gbps and achieves line-rate performance of 202 Gbps frame forwarding in an 8-unit stack. It is a workgroup switch and offers full L2/L3/L4 capability. Price: Rs 234,238 for ERS-5510-24T


Allied Telesyn


Features: This is a multiprotocol router with 2 PIC slots. It features 2 10/100TX (LAN) ports, 2 asynchronous ports and 2 NSM (4 PICs) bays. It supports high-speed DES & 3DES VPN and stateful inspection. A firewall is available with the product. It comes with LAN/WAN interfaces and optional Redundant Power Supply (RPS). The major features include QoS & traffic shaping and memory up to 512MB. It contains a RISC processor and performs multi-protocol routing. It can support 1,023 VPN tunnels and features VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol) and IPv6.
Price: Rs 69,228
Telephone: 022 30682228/2223
Website: www.alliedteleysn.com


1 x Port Interface Card (PIC) bay supporting a range of LAN/WAN interfaces. IPSec DES & 3DES VPN. ICSA-certified stateful inspection firewall (optional). 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN/WAN port. Integral 4x10/100Mbps full duplex Ethernet switch.
Price: Rs 36,450


Cisco 2811 ISR—Modular

Features: This integrated services router comes with 4 HWICs and 2 advanced integration modules. It has Cisco firewall and Cisco IOS IPS, anti-virus/NAC features. This router also features advanced QoS. The standards used are 802.1Q, 802.1X. I and has 2 onboard PVDM slots. Cisco 2811 ISR has 1-port network module extended (NME). It comes with optional CME, SRST, Voice Mail and PoE. For security, it employs the support of up to 1500 VPN tunnels with the AIM-EPII-plus module.
Price: Rs 85,000 onwards
Contact: 91 11 55611062
Website: www.cisco.com

Cisco 1800 ISR—Fixed

The Cisco 1811 integrated services router provides broadband access with concurrent services for branch and small offices. It features integrated ISDN basic rate interface (BRI), analog modem, or Ethernet backup port for redundant WAN links and load balancing. It provides LAN switching with optional inline PoE and secure wireless LAN for simultaneous 802.11a and 802.11b/g operation with use of multiple antennae. For security, it employs stateful inspection firewall. It has IPSec VPNs (3DES) or Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Price: Rs 48,000 onwards



Features : Two WAN ports for load balancing and built-in four-port switch, integrated VPN, firewall and QoS. The built-in four-port switch provides computers on the LAN with network connectivity and Internet access. The DI-LB604 is a scalable solution that allows users to add switches as business grows and network needs expand. The DI-LB604 also features the dual Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) and Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall with Denial of Service (DoS) attack protection to safeguard your network.
Price: Rs 10,000
Telephone: 22 26526696/56902210
Website: www.dlink.com


This is a broadband Internet router with hardware-based VPN and 4-port 10/100M switch. It features 10/100Mbps auto MDIX Ethernet ports allowing CAT 5 cable (straight-through or crossover) to work with the DI-804HV.
Price: Rs 3,500



Features: This is a security integrated router with two 10/100 ports. It has 4 NM slots and one console port. The memory used is 8MB. It includes 256MB SDRAM built-in. It comes with hardware IPSEC DES/3DES/AES inbuilt. The major features include 16 high speed Sync serial / Async ports per chassis, 16 BRI U ports per chassis, 4 channelised E1 /E1 PRI ports and 6 Fast Ethernet ports on a single chassis. It features WAN optimistion, IP packet filtering and restricted access control. The DX-2811 & DX-2811-R provide features such as standard and extended access control lists (ACL), authorisation and accounting (PAP/CHAP, TACACS, Radius), network address translation (NAT), IP packet-filtering, L2TP and GRE.
Price: Rs 2,24,490
Ph: 44 2432 3558/3557
Website: www.daxnetworks.com


This is a router with two 10/100 Fast Ethernet port. It has one ISDN BRI port S/T interface with cable and comes with 1 VoIP slot. It has one console port and 8MB flash and 64MB default SDRAM. It comes with hardware encryption internal socket and DHCP server support. The DX-801E optionally allows end-to-end secured hardware based encryption, with optional IPSec module supporting industry standard security protocols such as encryption (40bit & 56bit pay load), IPSec DES (64 bits)/3DES (192 bits)/ AES (128 /196 /256).
Price: Rs 42,290


Services Gateways-4

Features: NetDevices Services Gateways integrate firewall, denial of service (DoS) protection, application level gateways, intrusion detection and prevention (IDP), IPSec VPN, QoS, Ethernet switching, IP routing and other services onto one platform. It comes with NetDevices’ lifeline management framework. All services provided by a NetDevices services gateway can be managed remotely.

Some of the features include 2GHz AMD Opteron processor, 8-port 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet, 4-port T1, 4-port E1, 4-port serial (V.35/X.21) and 2-port 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (built-in). It has memory of 512MB / 2GB and flash memory of 512MB / 1GB.
Price: Rs 3,59,550 ($ 7990) onwards
Telephone: 80 55171333
Website: www. netd.com



Data transfer plans

Features: The plans offered by Iqara are of two types; unlimited and data transfer. Under the unlimited category, it offers Silver (128 Kbps), Ruby (256 Kbps), Gold (384 Kbps), Diamond (512 Kbps) and Platinum (768 Kbps). All these plans are valid for 31 days. Prices range from Rs 2,500, Rs 5,000, Rs 8,999, Rs 12,500 and Rs 17,500. The data transfer plans include speeds from 256 to 512 Kbps with data limits of 4GB, 8GB and 25GB.
Price: one-time installation Rs 1,750, modem deposit (refundable): Rs 3,000
Website: www.iqara.net/business

HCL Infinet

Managed VPN services for SMBs 

Features: HCL Infinet offers VPN services in two variants IP-VPN and MPLS-VPN. The solution enables SMBs to connect their various offices across India and implement on-line mission-critical applications. The service is offered on a turnkey basis and covers Networking Hardware (Routers/ Modems), VPN service and lastmile solutions including wireless access. The VPN services can be provisioned based on the exact bandwidth requirements and can support data, voice and video applications. 
Price: The pricing ranges from Rs 80,000 for 64 Kbps MPLS Gold Service to Rs 8,00,000 for 2Mbps Gold Services per site/location. 
Contact: 91 120 2442860
Website: www.hclinfinet.com

Wireless Router


ADSL P-660RU Series: ADSL2+ Ethernet / USB Router

Features: This ADSL router solution utilises high-speed ADSL2 and ADSL2+ technologies to achieve speeds up to 12Mbps (ADSL2) or 24 Mbps (ADSL2+). It offers multimedia and real-time applications such as online gaming, video-conferencing and other bandwidth-hogging services. With USB and Ethernet dual-interface, the P-660RU series offers a flexible way to access the Internet. It has ADSL physical layer support, ATM adaptation layer type 5 (AAL5) and supports up to 64 virtual channel connections (VCCs). It has a USB port supporting Windows98/98SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and XP and Mac OS X 10.x.
Price: Rs 3,600 plus taxes
Telephone: 91 22 56238376
Website: www.zyxel.com

Wireless ADSL P-660HW Series: 802.11g Wireless ADSL2+ 4-Port Security Gateway

It provides ADSL 2+ high-speed Internet access and media bandwidth management support. It comes with high-speed wireless 802.11g, five times faster than 802.11b. The wireless standard is IEEE 802.11g. It has 8 PVCs Support and VC and LLC multiplexing . For security, it uses VC and LLC Multiplexing and IP & Generic Packet Filtering. Major features include SUA/Multi-NAT Internet sharing, multimedia support and VPN (IPSec, PPTP) pass-through
Price: Rs 4,800 plus taxes



Features: It’s a 4-port pocket router; a WAN port, security features such as SPI firewall, NAT, DoS prevention, WPA-PSK, WEP, VPN: IPSec, L2TP, and PPTP pass-through, UPnP, MSN video and audio support, DMZ and device discovery.
Price: Rs 4,700
Contact: 91 9820483363
Website: www.asus.com.tw


Features: The products has features that include 125 high-speed wireless router, 125 high-speed technology (35 percent faster than regular 11g ), LAN port x 4; WAN port x 1, WMM enhances wireless transfers of audio/video content, security: SPI firewall, NAT, DoS prevention, intrusion detection.
Price: 4,500


HughesNet Broadband Satellite Router with 1.2M Antenna

Features: It features a single 10/100Mbps Ethernet port. It includes an IDU HN satellite broadband router and ODU 2W radio. It offers five broadband service plans from Internet 200 for a maximum of 2 users to Internet 600 for 10 users. The peak download bandwidth per site ranges from 256 to 1024 kbps.
Price: For Internet 200 User Plan – Rs 4,300,
For Internet 300 - Rs 6,061, For Internet 400 – Rs 12,622,
For Internet 500 - Rs 16,357
and For Internet 600 - Rs 23,828
(Prices per month per site)
Rs 94,000 towards Equipment and Installation charges.
Telephone: 1 866 347 3292
Website: www.dwge.com


OfficeConnect Wireless 54 Mbps- 11g Travel Router

Features: Using this router, can create a private hotspot and share secure high speed Internet access wherever a broadband Internet connection is available. The 802.11g router supports 54 Mbps data transfer rates. One can choose between router, access point (AP) or client modes. Up to 16 wireless users can connect to the travel router in router or AP mode; client mode supports one Ethernet client. It also features Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and basic Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption. In router, access point and client modes, VPN pass-through support secures communication channels over the Internet. Windows, Macintosh, Unix, and Linux users can take advantage of the shared Internet access.
Price: Rs 5,850
Telephone: 80 22267272/228
Website: www.3com.com



Gigabit Unmanaged Switches

DGS-1008D 8-Port Copper Gigabit Switch for SMBs and           SOHOs
DGS-1016D 16-Port 10/100/1000Base-T Unmanaged          Standalone Gigabit Switch
DGS-1024D 24-Port 10/100/1000Base-T Unmanaged          Standalone Gigabit Switch
Price: Rs 9,000 onwards


Features: It offers benefits from the increased bandwidth of Gigabit Ethernet, and has plug-and-play installation.
Telephone: 22 2652 6696/3061 6666 
Website: dlink.co.in

Gigabit Smart Switches

DES-1316K PoE bundling kit include 1xDES-1316,          2xDWL- P50
DES-1226G 24-port 10/100Mbps+2 Port 1000 Base-T mini
         GBIC Gigabit Smart Switch
DGS-1216T 16-Port Copper Gigabit Smart Switch
DGS-1224T 24-Port Copper Gigabit Smart Switch
Price: Rs 15,000 onwards


It combines 10/100Mbps Ethernet switching with 802.3af standard remote power on network cabling of up to 100 metres. Integral power sourcing capability and inherent support including VLAN are other features.


Catalyst Express 500 Series

Features: It includes wire-speed switching with 802.1d spanning tree, 802.1x authentication, and 802.3ad link aggregation. The Power over Ethernet (PoE) option offers standard IEEE 802.3af PoE versions that enable new uses for the network by providing power to IP phones, wireless access points, video-surveillance cameras and other network devices. Catalyst Express Security enables easy deployment of integrated security to protect the network from unauthorised access and information theft.
Telephone: 91 11 5561 1062
Website: cisco.com

Catalyst Express 500-24TT Switch

It has 24 10/100 ports for desktop connectivity and two 10/100/1000 BASE-T ports for uplink/server connectivity.

Unity Express Voicemail

Meant for SMBs and branches of enterprises, it offers locally delivered services with CallManager or CallManager Express, 12 to 120 individual or general delivery mail boxes, and 4 to 16 concurrent voice-mail or automated attendant sessions.


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