Cisco 890 Series Router

I had a customer ask some very relevant questions about the Cisco 891W router yesterday and found the answers to be a little harder than expected to find so I thought it would make an informative blog entry.

The first question was related to how the integrated wireless access point operates in both standalone as well as lightweight mode.

The Cisco 891, and wireless version 891W, are part of the fixed configuration integrated services router family. These devices are the technical evolution of the highly popular 871 and 871W routers. One of my favorite features of the 891W is that the integrated access point can now be configured as a lightweight access point managed by a wireless LAN controller. The integrated access point runs its’ own software image enabling IOS upgrades and downgrades to occur independently from the software running on the access point. Just like other Cisco access points be sure to order the access point based on the regulatory domain of where it will be installed.

The next question related to if one can field upgrade an 891 router to include PoE capabilities. The answer is yes! There is an internal module with part number “800-IL-PM-4” which includes an additional 48V DC power supply with part number “PWR-80W-AC”. The PoE capabilities support 802.3af or Cisco PoE on up to 4 ports at up to 15.4W.

The 891 also offers a single V.92 analog modem interface for backup connectivity. The 892  variant offers an ISDN backup interface.

For more information check out the data sheet here.

WAN Emulation

Often it can be challenging to test how an application will perform over different types of network connections. Development is normally done when the application is running on a server located in the same building or campus over high-speed, low-latency connections.

Once applications start to be used over longer distances it becomes increasingly apparent that proper testing should include testing how these network variables impact both front-end (user interaction) and back-end (interaction with other business components, a database for example) performance of applications.

I’ve found that the open source software package “WANem” does an excellent job simulating a huge variety of WAN conditions. The developers of this great tool have taken all the challenge out of using their application by making it available as a virtual machine.

Once you have WANem running the configuration is through an intuitive web interface. The product documentation is well written and easy to understand.

Here’s a link to the SourceForge page of WANem.

Cisco UCS Platform Emulator

The Cisco Unified Computing System has continued to gain marketshare and mindshare in  the marketplace. One of the unique features offered is the UCS Platform Emulator which allows for running a large number of the hardware components of UCS in a purely virtualized environment. This emulator makes it possible to discover how to navigate the user interface, provision servers, and test application integrations without using physical UCS hardware. It’s also possible to load live UCS configuration information in to the emulator for test/development/staging needs. And the best part…it’s free!!

Virtualized components include:

• Fabric interconnects
• I/O adapters (fabric extenders)
• Cisco integrated management controllers (CIMC)
• Chassis management controllers (CMC)
• VMware vCenter Server virtual machines (through VM port profiles)
• Cisco server utility OS

The software is available as a free download and is packaged as a virtual machine package so you’ll need VMware Player at a minimum.

The software and relevant documentation are available here