"serious" small business router

This is a product niche that I'm not very familiar with what are the right options out there.

Tiny home networks or very small businesses will typically use their ISP's provided modem/router combo, or buy a consumer router like something you'd pick up from Best Buy. These are consumer devices, some of them might have "fancy" networking features, but they are not really made for business use.

Large businesses and datacenters will have enterprise-grade networking equipment - e.g. Cisco, Dell, HP security appliances / firewalls / routers that cost thousands of dollars and can do everything. They usually have service level agreements, have redundancy features built in, and require some sort of formal education to be able to do anything useful with them (e.g. CCNA), and are managed via a command-line interface.

What do you put in for "mid-size" businesses, e.g. 50-100 computers that have graduated from the cheap consumer stuff and need a "serious" router intended for business use, needs to be reliable and capable, but they are not yet at the point where they can justify spending the thousands of dollars on enterprise level stuff? E.g. The sort of router that would cost $300-600?

One client of mine had a Cisco SA500 Security Appliance, which was pretty neat but the product line doesn't appear to exist anymore.

So far the only thing I've found is the Sonicwall TZ100 and 200 series routers. What do you think of those?
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Frosty555Asked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use a Cisco RV042G VPN router in my home office. This is an entry level commercial product, is well with the price range you imagine and you do not need to implement VPN but it is there if you want it.

Juniper Netscreen are excellent for small businesses and are at the top of the range you specify, but worth the money.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I will not buy another Dell Product - I had to PAY for SUPPORT before I could even get the last Sonicwall to work properly and their Support confirmed I could not have gotten it working without calling them and they won't put you through without a paid support contract - even 2 hours of the box.  AWFUL company.  DELL is an AWFUL company these days.

Fortinet is decent... I know a lot of consultants that put them in and like them.  They have a wide range of products allowing for pretty much any size business.

Watchguard has looked interesting, but I haven't used them.

These days, I'm using Untangle in either a VM or on a small device I build.  Works great and it's FREE for the basic version (they even offer very low priority support for the free version and an active forum board to resolve issues). Many BASIC "advanced" features such as VPN, Spam filtering, IDS, IPS, Reporting, Firewall, web filtering, and other features.  If you want more advanced (such as dual wan routing, better web filtering, etc, they offer annual, renewable packages for one, several, or all features, priced in user increments.
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Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
OK if you're tech savvy and want to spend $300-600 then here is a solution for you, recycle a good used computer say one with a 2gig processor 4gig of ram and a 250gb hard disk, preferable SSD or you can buy one of those small headless computer very cheap, some come with wifi or you can buy wifi and put in it, load up one of these gateway appliance,
Untangle, VyOs, or PfSense.

spend time do the config and clone the system for future use, it will do all that you ask, the only cost is a computer and your time.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I use the Cisco RV0xx line for applications like this.  They have much of the simplicity of a commodity router and will support VPNs and VLANs - perhaps depending on the model for the VLANs.  
They have some quirks but for straightforward implementations seem to be adequately capable and reliable.  Not that I've not had some of the V01 models fail but this is over a lot of years!

If you go that route, you might look at:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Networking_Hardware/Routers/A_6533-Using-Cisco-Linksys-RV042-RV0XX-Routers-in-Router-Mode.html

If you don't need antivirus scanning in the router, then you can find new Juniper networks SSG-5 units for around $400 and used ones on Ebay for around $100.  As long as you don't need the added licenses then they would be a step up in terms of capability (AND complexity of configuration).  But, the SCREEN OS is quite capable.  I believe that Juniper has now gone completely to JUNOS in their current routers.

Then, of course, there's the Cisco ASA series which may well fit your description/need.  I'd be tempted...  I've not priced the add-ons though.
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BrandonProject Manager, IT Systems and Software DesignCommented:
Since you've asked about those two particular routers, i'll give my opinion of them. I'm currently sitting behind a TZ210. I've used Sonicwall routers for small business for about 10 years now. Yes, Dell purchased Sonicwall last year but none of the practices have changed, meaning you still need a support contract to get support. I've found the support to be a little slow, but once you get a dedicated tech, they log onto your machine when requested and help walk you through almost anything.

Both these routers you mentioned are strong and will perform the basics your looking for, right out of the box. You enter your ISP settings, setup a DHCP scope and away you go. For 50-100 i'd go with the 205, it has a higher throughput so any heavy internet usage won't get bogged down by the device.

Any additional add on features can be loaded by purchasing licenses. These include built in AV scanning, traffic/app controls and VPN access.

The only thing these devices fall short on are WIFI throughput. I'm using a few SonicPoint Ni devices and with all the other wifi traffic around the building i don't get much more than 10MBPS on a 50MBPS line. With another wireless access point i could get close to 50.

Hope this helps.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I keep Wi-Fi routers secondary to the main (wired) network router to make sure the main router has the best overall throughput. I put a Wi-Fi router as an extension to the network. This works very well.
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BrandonProject Manager, IT Systems and Software DesignCommented:
John, this is how the Ni works, it gets it's profile or provision from the router but is separate from the router itself. They do have router/wifi combos and i agree, these are for the smallest of branch offices, (IMHO), under 15 people.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I should have mentioned that many of these routers come with antivirus and antispam capabilities based on an add-on license.  That's what I meant when I said "if you don't need antivirus".  Really what I should have said is that it's less money without.  I would NOT recommend doing this with a small router as the newer AV things can slow them down too much.  For example, I changed out an SSG-5 for an SRX-240 for that reason.  I have no experience using this capability on the RV0xx line.  I liken this to what happens to a PC over the years.  While nothing else has changed, the PC slows down because the AV software continues to evolve and eventually can bog things down.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use an RV042G in my home office and get outstanding performance. I do NOT use it for anti spam or anti virus. Spam is handled elsewhere and my computers have anti virus.
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Frosty555Author Commented:
I have used the RV042 and RV082 routers in the past, and wasn't very impressed. But, that was back in the day when it was Linksys product. Have they gotten significantly better since then or is it still a Linksys product with the Cisco badge slapped on?

Where would you go to buy something like a Juniper Netscreen, or Fortinet or Watchguard products?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The newer Cisco ones are excellent.  So is Juniper, of course.
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BrandonProject Manager, IT Systems and Software DesignCommented:
frosty, you can find many places that sell these. I've used cdw for 12 years with the same account manager across 4 different companies. most of the time I can get almost cost for products. give him a call and mention my name, I don't get any kick backs, just pleasure in knowing a fellow IT pro is well taken care of.

cdw...joe killion @618.521.1261(referred by Brandon Gosnell)

good luck and let us know what you decide.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I don't get the sense that the Cisco RV0xx v03 is all that much different from the (Linksys) V01.
I've used them in failover and load sharing modes and recommend load sharing because the failover operation was flaky in the sense that if the Primary WAN shut off and the Secondary WAN took over then the device would not switch back to the Primary when it reappeared.  Then the device remained on the Secondary forever until "kicked".  But this may well be something you don't care about.  Otherwise they seem pretty stable, etc.  We rarely reboot any of them and more often reboots are part of a total system reboot and not targeted to these devices.
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Frosty555Author Commented:
Thank you for your help and opinions, everyone.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@Frosty555  - You are very welcome and I was happy to help.
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