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Old 10-08-2015, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default Need a recommendation for a router that can handle 100+ users

I just did some wiring in a school to extend the internal network. I also had to replace a Cisco Aironet WAP (one of 6 working together.) They complain that the network gets slow as soon as it gets busy. They probably have less than 30 users at once right now but they are planning to purchase 150 Chromebooks (it's a small arts high school.)

Right now they use 4 AT&T modems (maybe 12Mbps each) connected to a Netgear Firewall SRX5308 which has 4 WAN ports and is a gigabit router. In looking for an alternative for them I have read reviews of this product and several users complain that is has serious problems when it gets above 20 users. It's also relatively cheap. It's also the only product I see when I search for a 4 WAN load balancing router. I see there are pricier routers that have multiple ports that can be tasked as WAN ports but this gets me into a class I'm not familiar with.

So I'm asking opinions for two scenarios:

1. Can anyone recommend a router that can handle 100+ users (I'm guessing that not all Chromebooks will be connected at a time - it's an arts school and I hear pianos playing and see kids running around in dance outfits.) and can load balance 4 WAN connections?

2. I'm hoping they can talk to the Catholic church that owns the building and get them to permit them to switch to Comcast (which will deliver around 150Mbps near downtown in Chicago.) They were told no in the past but I think they need to insist. We'll see how that goes. So if I don't need load balancing, what would be an appropriate router? This is my 1st customer with more than 30 computers.

Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 10-11-2015, 04:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Need a recommendation for a router that can handle 100+ users

check out pfsense

https://www.pfsense.org/
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Old 10-16-2015, 10:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need a recommendation for a router that can handle 100+ users

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdrew098 View Post
I just did some wiring in a school to extend the internal network. I also had to replace a Cisco Aironet WAP (one of 6 working together.) They complain that the network gets slow as soon as it gets busy. They probably have less than 30 users at once right now but they are planning to purchase 150 Chromebooks (it's a small arts high school.)
the internet is slow, so they plan to resolve this by getting hardware that actually requires an internet connection to run anything of use? and putting up to five times as many users at once using the same infrastructure?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kdrew098 View Post
Right now they use 4 AT&T modems (maybe 12Mbps each) connected to a Netgear Firewall SRX5308 which has 4 WAN ports and is a gigabit router. In looking for an alternative for them I have read reviews of this product and several users complain that is has serious problems when it gets above 20 users. It's also relatively cheap. It's also the only product I see when I search for a 4 WAN load balancing router.
I have an expectation that this is probably setup badly.
bonding connections is messy at best so really what you have is something that's likely routing out different devices depending on traffic...

I'm a fan of Cisco devices, but that's because I've done a bunch of configure that stuff type tasks. with the exception of a few "other" manufacturers, where clients may insist, or already have infrastructure setup, Cisco is the "bread and butter" / "go to" device manufacturer (because everyone here knows them inside out)

» ASA 5505 vs. ASA 5510 vs. ASA 5512-X vs. ASA 5515-X Router Switch Blog

you want something like the ASA 5512x,they come in at ~1.2k GBP so that's about 2 and a bit K USD. (you might get a better deal).

The Cisco ASAs come by default with a web server configuration that distributes some software called ADSM that you use to configure the device (unless you want to use a console cable to configure it from the command line.) so in theory it's not really any more complicated than any other device with a graphical interface unless you want it to be. (most online guides will give you configuration text because it's easy to just write it down rather than a step by step click here, then there etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kdrew098 View Post
and can load balance 4 WAN connections?
you come back to this dodgy load balance thing...
I don't think that you really want to load balance with routing. not least because that can get really complicated really fast. (I'm yet to see a good example of connection bonding.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdrew098 View Post
switch to Comcast (which will deliver around 150Mbps near downtown in Chicago.)
which with 150 chrome books is a bit like putting everyone on their own 1Mb connection...


Quote:
Originally Posted by kdrew098 View Post
They were told no in the past but I think they need to insist. We'll see how that goes.
A likely reason that they are saying no is that broadly speaking, business connections come with business contracts, that means 3 years, the church don't want the school going bust and another telco refusing to remove blocks on the last mile connections allowing transfer to a cheaper service for the next clients.

Quote:
So if I don't need load balancing, what would be an appropriate router? This is my 1st customer with more than 30 computers.

Any advice would be appreciated!
get a proxy server (or four) and reduce the amount of outgoing connections, now your firewall is doing less work as all the clients are hitting a proxy instead of the firewall directly.
set the firewall to block everything on all ports for internet access for everything except the proxy server, then everyone must use that.

set your proxy server into caching mode, then when one person finds a cool website the proxy server downloads it through the (now will less connections) firewall (at a hopefully better speed) and when their friends see how cool the page the are viewing and go there, rather than download at all, everything is distributed from the proxy server, at the speed of the local network. (which makes your line even less contended and apparently even faster!)


what is your switching infrastructure like? (if your backbone is rubbish, and your connection back from your waps has auto negotiated to 10Mb half duplex then yeah, it's going to feel slow...

do you have any wireless lan controllers, since there are 6 airnets, one of the things this does is essentially monitor the wireless network, when it sees 30 people all connecting to 1 wap because that's the physically closest and all others are cited badly behind concrete pillars then it can see that 1 device struggling, and essentially broker connection take over by other devices, spreading the load between the WAPs...



so my advice is:
look at your WAP sites, are they really in the best place? could you move them? -i.e fine having WAP all over a library so that people can use their phones, but if all the actual PCs are trying to use just one, you may have an issue...

Do you offer public access? e.g. peoples own phones? - this immediately increase your device count, can you segregate these onto a seperate guest VLAN (you should be doing this for security anyway) and apply bandwidth control to prefere your machines?

do you really think the firewall is the problem? and what part of it is the problem, saying when 20 or more people are connected then it's flakey isn't really understanding the problem. 20 or more people all trying to stream video faster than the device could handle, or 20 or more people connecting using gopher? (extremely light weight -or something equally light weight?)

can you put in some proxy servers and deploy auto configuration, ensuring that some sites connect using 1 proxy, others using a different one? (and set those devices manually to use different gateways on the network that in turn mean they are using a different connection, (rather than just letting the firewall figure it out?

What budget do you have for replacing equipment?
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Old 10-16-2015, 04:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Need a recommendation for a router that can handle 100+ users

Thank you for your response. There's a lot to digest here but I like some of your suggestions - especially about using caching mode. I've been talking to the school and working through some details and at this point we are going to move the students to their own network (because it turns out they will all have their own phones connecting to this (now we're talking 300 connections max.) We will leave the Cisco network for the teachers (it's working fine now for this much smaller group.)

We need WAPs that can handle higher numbers of connections. I'm told that Ubiquiti Unifi Pro will handle 100 connections. We're thinking of putting in 8 of those (2 per floor.) We're going over to the school to assess the other equipment because they will need really fast router and switch for this arrangement.
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