Vyatta will announce a new 3500 series of open source routers this week that run on the Intel Xeon 5500 "Nehalem" chips and promise bi-directional traffic at up to 20Gbps. Scrappy Vyatta compares the 3500s to Cisco's ASR 1006s, but it's doubtful they will take a big bite out of Cisco's sales any time soon. That said, the new series of routers provides real cost savings to small enterprise customers (users numbering in the hundreds) who can't afford proprietary options. That's a serious draw in hard economic times.
The new series has two models, the 3510 and 3520. The 3510 offers a single quad-core 2.13GHz chip and 2Gbytes of memory with a base price of $4595. The 3520 has a base price of $6495 for 2.8GHz and 3Gbytes. That's a significant savings compared to the Cisco ASR1006, which lists for $75,000. Both the 3510 and 3520 offer 2 X 250Gbyte SATA w/RAID -1 hard drives, 4XGbE. Hot swap redundant hard disks w/RAID are included. Hot swap redundant power requires the purchase of a second power supply that Vyatta sells for $567. The 3500s are ready to ship in January, and Vyatta Director of Marketing Tom McCafferty says there are plans to expand the line as more powerful architectures create even more possibilities for Vyatta.
The question is, will the new series attract customers looking at higher-end hardware? Not likely, according to Steven J. Schuchart Jr., Principal Analyst for Datacenter at Current Analysis. "Vyatta has done a lot to show the power of x86 processors today and how they can handle routing for enterprises. However, Vyatta's sole market advantage is price. The market for routers in the large enterprises is much more concerned about reliability and support than price. This relegates Vyatta to the SME market and non-profit entities where money is scarce. Their appliance strategy plays well into those markets," he says.
Vyatta offers tiered support packages that are included with the purchase of the box. Prices range from $4,595 to $5,270 for the 3510 and $6,495 to $7,170 for the 3520 depending on the level of service/subscription chosen. John Spracklen, CTO of Southwest Datacenters, a regional GIS clearinghouse, replaced his old Cisco Layer-3 3550 series and Pix firewall with two Vyatta 2501s in his datacenter and describes a customer support response that is immediate and reliable. He plans to replicate his datacenter design as the company expands to a second location in Las Vegas. Spracklen claims zero performance failures with the Vyatta setup and said that the low cost allowed to him to budget for the routers months earlier than proprietary alternatives.
Note that the performance benchmark of 20 Gbps bidirectional traffic, which is described in the Intel report, reflects raw throughput only. Vyatta reports similar results in their own internal testing: ~3,000,000pps and 10Gbps+ throughput at smaller than 512k packets. Vyatta's McCafferty admits that running additional services on the router will affect performance. Vyatta plans additional performance testing, but couldn't supply any other performance metrics at press time.