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January 1999


Cisco 3620 Router
Cisco Systems, Inc.
170 West Tasman Drive
San Jose, CA 95134
Ph.: 408-553-6387
Fx.: 408-526-7118
Web: www.cisco.com

Price: Call for specific configurations.

RATINGS (0-5)
Installation: 4
Documentation: 4
Features: 4.5
Operational Testing: 4.5
Overall: A

One of the most important investments for businesses is the infrastructure of the network. These days, people can take work that was previously confined to the office out on the road with them, and many people work entirely from home. With these new capabilities, people and businesses need flexible access to networks, including the Internet. Because of these needs, Cisco has taken a leading role in the development and growth of the WAN.

Branch offices once had to be totally independent from main offices because communications between the two were sluggish. In keeping up with today's high-speed interactions, these satellites need to connect to central servers to conduct business more efficiently. This ongoing trend has increased bandwidth requirements, and network services are required to support advanced applications.

Cisco's 3620 router presents an alternative to the inefficient and expensive solutions that many businesses have had to rely on in the past. It offers dial access, advanced LAN-to-LAN routing, legacy traffic support, and future technologies such as DSL, and integrated voice, video, and data networks. Until now, administrators have had to purchase at least three devices to meet all these needs. The Cisco 3620 enables an office to become a next generation workplace, ready to embrace the challenges and benefits of rapidly proliferating LAN/WAN applications.

INSTALLATION
A user can mount a Cisco router through a rack mount, or a wall mount. We chose neither of these options since we would be giving the router back to Cisco after we finished our review. Instead, we chose to simply set up the chassis on a desktop. After we put the routers in place, we connected them to a hub via 10BaseT cables with RJ-45 connectors, and also provided AC power to the units.

We powered on the routers, and watched them go through their power-on self-test diagnostics. With this completed, we set upon using the System Configuration Dialog, as this was recommended for first-time Cisco IOS users. The other two options - for experienced Cisco IOS users - are entering Configuration Mode, or using the AutoInstall feature, which can only be used if a configured Cisco router already exists. Since we did not have any WAN connections, and had not previously set up the configuration file, the system automatically started the System Configuration Dialog.

As a first step, we had to connect using the HyperTerminal program, at 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity, and 2 stop bits. After the initial diagnostics ran past us on the screen, we answered "yes" to enter the initial configuration dialog, and then again to view the current command summary. Next, we supplied a name for the router, in this case Cisco1. From here, we needed to configure the Ethernet Interface to the router, and we used the Configure IP option, which gave us the IP address of the card.

We used the Cisco ConfigMaker software to set up the rest of the network. We found that this program had a nice graphical interface for managing the router network. With this utility, we were able to establish the IP addresses of the routers, and set up the rest of our testing arrangement. Network components that we had the ability to establish included dial-in PCs, hosts, the corporate network, the Ethernet LAN, the Internet, and various voice components such as phones, faxes, PBXs, and the PSTN. Cisco components for this network include the entire line of Cisco routers, the Cisco Micro Hubs line, the Cisco Micro Web Server 200, the Cisco 1548 Micro Switch, and the Cisco Micro Hub Stack.

DOCUMENTATION
The documentation that we received for the 3620 router was actually more than we were able to use. Three CDs contained detailed information on the full array of Cisco products. The first of these discs was the Cisco Connection Documentation, Enterprise Series CD and Paper Documentation - Cisco's CD-ROM library of product information. It contained a complete set of Cisco customer documentation and the "Getting Started" section provided information for first-time users of Cisco products as well as product documentation. A "Learning About Internetworking" section is designed for users with limited understanding of internetworking, while users who wish to set up their Cisco product as quickly as possible would start with the "Hardware Installation and Maintenance" section.

The Cisco IOS Configuration Guides will help with installation and configuration of the Cisco IOS software. The guides are intended for network administrators who need in-depth descriptions of configuration tasks. The Cisco IOS Command References describe the commands necessary for configuring and maintaining the system. For managing the internetwork, CiscoWorks 3.0 documentation includes Online Help; NetView for AIX Installation and Reference Guide; Installation and Reference Guide on SunOS, Solaris, and HP-UX; TrueView Documentation; and the VlanDirector Getting Started Guide.

In addition, Cisco has provided the following as supporting documentation:

  • Cisco Management Information Base (MIB) User Quick Reference.
  • Command Summary.
  • Configuration Builder Getting Started Guide.
  • Addenda and Errata.
  • Release Notes.
  • Updates.
  • Workgroup Director User Guide.
  • Troubleshooting Internetworking Systems (Software Release 9.21 and later).
  • Debug Command Reference.
  • System Error Messages.

FEATURES
The Cisco 3620 router is a two-slot modular access router whose LAN and WAN connections can be configured by means of interchangeable network modules and WAN interface cards. Modular design provides flexibility, allowing the user to reconfigure the router if needed.

The 3620 router comes with a number of different interface options, the simplest of which are the Fast Ethernet and 1-port Ethernet modules, which both have one port for either 100BaseT or 10BaseT connections. Both are also equipped with AUI connectors. Many other modules exist with variable combinations of Ethernet, WAN, Token Ring, Serial, Asynchronous/Synchronous, ISDN-BRI, and Channelized T1/E1 interfaces. In addition, Cisco supports a number of different types of WAN interface cards such as 1-port serial, Switched 56, and both old and new 1-port ISDN-BRI with or without NTI.

The following network modules are available for the Cisco 3620 routers:

  • 4- and 8-port ISDN BRI network modules.
  • 4- and 8-port asynchronous and synchronous network modules.
  • 1- and 4-port Ethernet network modules.
  • 1-port Fast Ethernet network modules.
  • 4-port serial network module.
  • 1 or 2 Ethernet and 2 WAN Card Slots.
  • 1 Ethernet, 1 Token Ring, and 2 WAN Card Slots.
  • 1- or 2-Port Channelized T1/ISDN PRI or CSU Network Module.
  • 1- or 2-Port Channelized E1/ISDN PRI B or U Network Module.
  • 4- or 8-Port ISDN BRI with NT1 Network Module (U Interface).
  • 4- or 8-Port ISDN BRI Network Module (S/T Interface).

The Cisco 3620 makes use of a number of different types of memory for multiple purposes. The processor is an 80-MHz IDT R4600 RISC, and the router can operate with 4-64 MB of DRAM, which store the running configuration and routing tables, and are also used for packet buffering by the network interfaces. The Cisco Internetwork Operating System (Cisco IOS) software also executes from DRAM memory, and 128 KB of NVRAM store the system configuration file and the virtual configuration register. Anywhere from 4-32 MB of flash memory, in either the SIMM or PCMCIA varieties, also store the operating system software image. Finally, 512 KB are reserved for booting an operating system software image from the flash or PCMCIA memory when needed.

Additional features of the Cisco 3620 router include:

  • Hardware thermal alarm to warn of excessively high operating temperature.
  • Mounting in a 19-inch, 23-inch, or 24-inch rack; on a wall, desk, or tabletop.
  • A connection to the Cisco Redundant Power System (RPS).
  • Supports the Cisco IOS software Release 11.1 AA and 11.2.

OPERATIONAL TESTING
We tested the Cisco router by connecting it to a hub that was connected to our corporate LAN. We added another computer with a different subnet mask and IP address to the router as a secondary, single-computer network. We would not normally be able to ping to this computer, so establishing that packets were being read from one PC to the other would mean that the router was doing its job.

We set upon the task of configuring the router through the Cisco ConfigMaker, which we found to be a very useful utility. Through this utility, we were able to select the different types of network cards installed on the router. In addition to checking the Ethernet and WAN cards, we established the connectivity between the routers and other devices. After we established the configuration we were using, (and any time in between), we also had the ability to check on the properties of any device in the network. This included, but was not limited to the Cisco router.

After we finished this setup, we ran our simple test that would determine if the routers were functioning properly. We opened up a DOS window on the standalone computer and pinged a known IP address on our corporate network. The computer gave us the notification that the IP packets had been successfully received. We also did this in the reverse direction, (i.e., pinging the IP address of the stand-alone computer from a PC on our corporate network). When this worked, we knew that we had established a network integrated with the Cisco router.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Just about everything about the Cisco router is top-notch. With this in mind, there are only a couple of points to which we would like to draw Cisco's attention - the first of which is the documentation. Note that there was nothing missing in the documentation, but as can be the case with HTML, we found it difficult to locate specific pieces of information. This could be remedied one of two ways: Either by streamlining the design and organizing the layout of the links, or by providing a better, comprehensive index of the contents.

The other thing that we would like to mention is also a minor point. Establishing connectivity between two devices on the Cisco ConfigMaker was at times difficult. Not difficult because the layout was confusing or there were too many parameters to configure, but difficult because the point and click procedure was somewhat non-intuitive (at least to us). For example, we would click on Ethernet under the connections menu and then click on the first device we wished to connect. At this point, we would receive a warning message that really did not help in clarifying the situation. What we needed to do was drag the connection, click on the first device to connect, then drag the pointer to the other connector. We had to do this more than a dozen times before our ingrained mode of dragging and clicking began to waiver from its steadfast rigidity. This, as mentioned, was not a major point, but it did stick in our minds.

CONCLUSION
The testing we were able to perform on the Cisco router established that the 3620 performed as it should. We were only able to test it through an IP connection, but all the connection methods were similar and should not provide any unforeseen problems. An investment in a system of routers is by no means trivial. Contact Cisco to determine exactly which router configuration is optimal for your needs. On a side note, we recently set up a Cisco 2500 to establish connectivity between our current office and the location of the new TMC Labs.







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