Maryland vendor sets up routers for network managers to test drive

World of Routers of Rockville, Md., has set up an array of Cisco Systems Inc. routers
that networking professionals can experiment with in a controlled, real-world environment.


“As far as I know, it’s the only one of its kind,” president Thomas W.
Graham said. Some companies and government agencies maintain in-house test facilities, but
Graham said World of Routers is the first place anyone can pay by the hour for hands-on
experience with live network routers.


He said he expects demand for the facility to be high in the Washington area, which has
an abundance of government networks and contractors, and a shortage of qualified network
managers.


The lab has 40 routers from Cisco Systems of San Jose, Calif., configured in four
logical stacks: one LAN/WAN stack with a frame relay cloud, one stack for Cisco Certified
Internetworking Engineer training and two voice-over-IP stacks.


The configurations can be Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, token ring, serial, frame relay,
Integrated Services Digital Network and asynchronous transfer mode. There are 24 terminals
for use as network consoles, plus PC servers.


The lab can serve as a training facility, a duplicate setup to identify problems
plaguing a real-life network, a model for new networks, and a test bed for changing
applications and configurations on a network that cannot be brought down.


Graham said the lab focuses on Cisco routing gear because of its dominant market share.


“We think that’s where the customer base is, where the new technology is
coming from and where the demand is going to be,” he said.


But Graham acknowledged “some limitations due to the fact that we’re tied to
a single vendor,” especially in the federal market where Cisco’s penetration is
less than in the private sector, he said.


Graham said he expects to add Internet and Telnet capabilities for remote users of the
lab as well as equipment to reflect the ongoing shift from routers to switches.


“We’ll put in a switch bank for ATM core switching,” possibly by the end
of the summer, he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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