Link Technologies' PoweRouter
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The software from Riga, Latvia-based MikroTik is as good as anything and offers a better price, says Dennis Burgess, Senior Engineer at House Springs, Mo.-based consulting and services provider Link Technologies.
Burgess speaks enterprise languages. He's Microsoft certified and a CCNA. "With customers who are familiar with Cisco, I can talk Cisco to them and translate MikroTik."
Of course, Burgess is also a certified MikroTik Trainer and Consultant.
One area where Link Technologies saw a gap, Burgess says, is at the high end. The routers that MikroTik sells don't go above about a 1.3 GHz CPU, he notes. So Link Technologies built what it calls the PoweRouter, with hardware starting at a Pentium 4 dual core 3.0 GHz CPU. Burgess says that since his products do not compete with MikroTik's, Link Technologies maintains an excellent relationship with MikroTik.
When an unusual issue arises (hey, it can happen), Link Technologies understands what information to send to Latvia. "We don't get preferential treatment, but we know what information they need to have in order to help us. Because we get that information to them, we usually get a response pretty quickly."
In addition to the faster CPU, the PoweRouter series of products feature dual power supplies, more available RAM, more ports, and, at the bottom line, a mean time before failure (MTBF) of over 100,000 hours, Burgess says. "When people think of Cisco, they think plenty of Ethernet ports and processing power. We tested the PoweRouter 732 [the smallest big box the company makes] with over 2,600 PPPoE tunnels. The high end units have up to 8 processor cores. One deployment in the field handles about four wireless backhauls (over DragonWave and Orthogon) with over 4,000 users, using full BGP. It just works! And we're not tasking the processor too much."
An optional hard drive attachment allows ISPs to do caching, which may not be important in the U.S., but is vital, if, for example, you're in Africa delivering the bits via C-band satellite. "We're in every continent except Antarctica," Burgess says.
Most people, Burgess thinks, don't push MikroTik software to the limits. Instead of putting it on a high end box, the average WISP will put it on a PC that's too old for standard work.
Also, they may not be aware of all the features the MikroTik OS offers. "The GUI is easy to use. I call it an infinitely configurable router. It has so many options! And some people may not see the possibilities with even just four options."
ServicesOne area MikroTik may lag behind the competition is in support. We get plenty of posts to the ISP-Wireless list from people seeking answers to Mikrotik issues. Burgess says that Link Technologies offers knowledgeable and fanatical MikroTik support and that his engineers may have encountered an issue you're not familiar with. "As consultants, we have more experience putting all the pieces together."
The company also offers start up consulting to WISPs. He says that the business is seasonal, and that most of the customers come to Link Technologies at the start of the year. "A lot of customers are computer professionals who just want to cover the costs of working from home."
Link Technologies is working on a series of webinars that will teach people how to take full advantage of the capabilities of MikroTik's software. He anticipates offering a subscription service, with live webinars on weekday evenings for administrators who have just come home or are starting the night shift.
Alex Goldman is Managing Editor at ISP-Planet. Article courtesy of ISP-Planet.