Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A cheap way to achieve highly available office internet connection

When savvy geek's office grew to more than 10 people, our 1.5 Mbps SDSL line was finally not enough for them -- we use a lot of internet! The logical next step is to upgrade to a 3 Mbps bonded T1 but not only does it costs 3-4 times more, it also doesn't provide that much more reliability than a single SDSL line.

So I did some research online and found out that there are routers out there that let you "bond" two internet connections together, regardless of what type. (Well, technically, it's not bonding but more like load balancing.) With that feature, I can get an additional DSL lines and than just combine the bandwidth. This is much cheaper than the bonded T1 solution and it offers a bonus fail-over capability. Plus, I got a 8/1 ADSL line as the second line and end up with much more downlink bandwidth than a 3 Mbps T1, which provides my co-workers a much faster internet surfing. In terms of the products, Cisco has several models but their machines are expensive and nortoriously hard to manipulate. Then I found this company, DrayTek, which specializes in dual/multiple WAN routers. We've been using the 2910VG for more than half a year and, at $250, I have to say it's the single best IT investment I've made so far.

DrayTek Vigor 2910 VG

Not only is its Dual-WAN connection extremely easy to setup through its web-based UI, its additional features just make my life so much easier, such as setting up load-balancing policies based on ports, QoS -- we have VoIP, which I'll talk about next time, built-in "ping" and "tracert" -- the list goes on and on.So the end result is I'm paying less than $150 more per month on my additional line and I'm getting almost everything a bonded T1 has to offer. Savvy enough? I think so!

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