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Cisco 861W vs Cisco ASA 5505

Posted on 2011-02-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I'm debating to buy a Cisco 861W. I work on Cisco ASA 5505 units often. I'm just as fimiliar with IOS as I am the ASA OS and SDM vs ASDM. I saw someone on EE saw the ASA had more features than the 861W but I can't say that entirely true. Some of the points mentioned VPNs specifically but other than it not supporting SSL VPNs it doesn't all the same stuff the ASA does as far as I can see.

I wanted to see if anyone had any tips or advice for buying or not buying the 861W vs the ASA 5505. We don't use the Adaptive part of the ASAs so it would see the 861W is a better deal with all the same features, plus wireless, and because its IOS there aren't restrictions on the number of users. Now its suggested in the spec sheet its good for 5-10 users but I could see using this as a firewall/gateway device for a network up to 75 users. The number of VLANs supports on the unit is reported at 2, but being that it's Cisco IOS that sort of confused me.

The other thing that I had a question about was if like the ASA has a security plus bundle is there such a thing for IOS? It would seem that there isn't at least not for this model. The security plus bundle for ASA does things like unlimited VLANs and WAN fail over. Although the 861W can't do WAN fail over mainly because it only has 1 WAN interface I can't see what could be unlocked. I've got a few other thoughts but I'll wait to see if I get any replies on this points first.
Question by:productivetech
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Accepted Solution

SeeMeShakinMyHead earned 1000 total points
ID: 34905379
IF you are not planning on running any DMZ's and just want to restrict traffic using a few ACL's, then the 861W should be fine.  However, you have any need for DMZ's, and have the need to publish services on your network to the Internet, then I would go with the ASA.  

That model only supports 2 VLAN's (keep in mind its price) while the ASA should support 1024 by default I believe.  However, if you want it to do the routing, you could always trunk the VLANs to the router and create subinterfaces for each VLAN (router on a stick).

There are security bundles for routers, but I dont see one for the 861W when I log into my CCO account.

However, based on your questions, I would just get the ASA and a Cisco Access Point and be done with it.  Will cost a little more, but it will save your hair and you start to pull it out later when you need that "little" bit more functionality that you won't get on the 861W.  IMHO

Author Comment

ID: 34906792
The ASA supports multiple VLANs out of the box so I could do a DMZ but with the 861W I couldn't simply because it supports 2 VLANs. That didn't sound right to me at first because its IOS but I guess they restricted it some how. As for publishing services the Internet I could always NAT stuff from the inside to the out, create my service and inspect policies, and accomplish the same thing although I won't be DMZing it.

The 861W supports 2 VLANs so when you said router on a stick were you talking about the 861W or router on a stick with the ASA? All in all the big draw back is lack of VLANs.

Really my goal of purchasing a a unit is to secure my small home office with all of my servers and services. I'm mainly never opened it up and I want to have VPN capabilities and all of the zone based firewall policy elements. I also want it to be affordable and run IOS. I'm a Cisco guy and my main problem with the ASA was the user restrictions which although isn't a problem for me but the security plus bundle that unlocks the number of users also unlocks the security stuff like WAN fail over, SSL VPN, etc.

Really I want an ASA running IOS, and comes with all of the features out of the box. What would you suggest to facilitate that?

Author Comment

ID: 34912094
Ok, all my questions have been answered except for two and they are only regarding the Cisco 861W. 1) Can this router do router on a stick, and B) the data sheet says 2 vlans max, but IOS doesn't have a restriction on the number of vlans you can have so can someone confirm that it is true you can ONLY have a max of 2 vlans?

I would prefer if its someone who actually has installed one of these units or owns one rather than quoting the spec sheet which I already have.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 34992359
Question was partially answered and abandoned by community.

Expert Comment

ID: 35478817
productivetech, I'm in the same situation looking to secure my home office network and I'm undecided as to whether I should get:

- 881w


- ASA 5505 with security bundle and a Cisco AP 1142

What did you end up choosing and how is it working for you?


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