Discover the benefits of Cisco 2800 Series routers

When your company is ready to plunk down some money for a new Cisco router, David Davis recommends that you take a look at the Cisco 2800 Series. He explains why his company made the investment and reveals what impresses him about the new router line.

If I had to name some of my favorite Cisco routers, I would definitely include the Cisco 2800 Series on my list. Find out what you need to know about the Cisco 2800 Series, and learn why your organization might want to invest in this new line of routers.

The nitty-gritty

The Cisco 2800 Series is the replacement for the 2600 Series. In my opinion, the biggest advantage to the Cisco 2800 Series is its versatility; you can use a 2800 Series router in a small, midsize, or large organization. For most network administrators, I think the determining factor is the number and types of interfaces and not necessarily the throughput of the router.

There are four models in the Cisco 2800 Series:

  • 2801: 2 DSP, 2FE, 2HWIC, 2VWIC/VIC, 0NME (Network Module Enhanced), 1Rack unit (RU)
  • 2811: 2 DSP, 2FE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME, 1RU
  • 2821: 3 DSP, 2GE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME or 1NME-X, 2RU
  • 2851: 3 DSP, 2GE, 2HWIC, 4 HWIC, 1NME or NMD/NME-X/NME-XD, 2RU

(Cisco Systems provides a 2800 model comparison on its site.)

The 2800 Series is the first router in the Cisco product line that supports network modules. This means that if there is a network module that you require for your topology or application, the 2800 Series is the least expensive Cisco router (that's currently available) that you can install it into.

The 2800 Series supports a slew of Cisco interfaces and models. In a Cisco 2800 Series router, you can install a range of network modules, which include the following:

  • 36 port Ethernet switch with PoE
  • 32 port async
  • 8 port voice/fax module
  • Content engine with hard drive
  • Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  • Cisco Unity Express (voicemail)
  • Cisco Network Analysis Module (NAM)
  • 3G cellular WAN interface card
  • Wireless LAN controller
  • IP VSAT module
  • 802.11a/b/g WLAN module
  • 8 port HWIC module (to add 8 more HWIC cards)

For example, in a 2821 router, I could install 2 x 32 port Cisco Ethernet switch modules with PoE and use this router as a 64 port switch.

The 2800 Series supports the Cisco IOS, which provides options security (like the integrated stateful firewall), the Cisco Security Device Manager (SDM), 1500 VPN tunnels, Gig Ethernet, and redundant power (except for the 2801 router).

Why we bought the Cisco 2800 Series

At my company, we still have a lot of Cisco 2600 and 3600 Series routers. While not all my sites needed the power of these routers, we needed to use a network module card, and these router models were the first in the Cisco product line that supported those network modules. Specifically, we use NM-16A & NM-32A asynchronous serial modules to support serial devices at each location. The Cisco 2600 Series routers don't have the CPU and RAM to support the latest IOS and to handle the current network traffic load. (Note: The last date to receive service and support for a 2600 Series is April 28, 2008.) Figures A and B are photos of my new Cisco 2811 router that I just unpacked. Figure A

Figure A

Figure B

Figure B

In my case, the Cisco 2800 Series is the ideal replacement for almost all our routers. We have been purchasing 2811 Series routers, installing a HWIC T1 card for MPLS WAN connectivity, and replacing existing routers at remote sites. We added a NM-16A or NM-32A modules to support the needs of our async devices. I have seen cases where putting in a 2800 Series immediately improved the performance for that remote location.

While I might be able to use a smaller router like an 1800, I need the NM slot from the 2800 Series, and I like the flexibility and power that the 2800 Series offers. Like the 2600 and 3600 Series routers, the 2800 Series has been extremely reliable; so far, not one 2800 Series has failed.

A downside to the Cisco 2800 Series is that it is loud. When I turned it on to configure it in my office, I couldn't hear my coworkers or my phone.


If you are in the market for a new router (perhaps you're looking to replace your aging 2600 and 3600 Series routers), I recommend taking a look at the Cisco 2800 Series. Based on my personal use, the Cisco 2800 Series is another rock solid router from Cisco that, like the 2600 and 3600 Series, will serve network admins for years to come.

The real case for the Cisco 2800 Series is that it offers a completely improved package: better performance, solid reliability, versatility of use, and a plethora of WAN interfaces and network modules that you can use to expand it. Also, since the 2600 Series will no longer be supported, the time to replace those routers with the 2800 is now.

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Great article. Here's another excellent resource concerning the Cisco 2800 series router, including models, password recovery instructions and other info. Cisco 2800


really good. Now iam working on 2801. I configured VPN in 2801. really good router.


She is right. The 2800 series are better than the 2600 we were using and i hope to upgrade most of our routers to this level.


I did not see any examples of network software at all.I suspect that it would be more than just shared folders.In other words,any computer on the network could access ordering or billing and that information would be stored in the server.


Good timely information. Thanks again David for keeping us caught up with the critical information... Ahmed Denver, CO


Hello David, I am a great fan of the 2800 series. I have the 2821 in remote offices with a MPLS connection to the main office. The 2811 are in our vpn offices connecting back to the main offices. In both case we have intergrated a switch module to limint the amout of devices per office. Have had no issues with them


Hello david, Thanks for this informative article, i have been using a 2811 router for the past 3 years and it has performed wonderfully well. Keep up the good work i am learning a lot from your write ups. Regards Abiodun


Hi David, thank you for your regular, timely nuggets of wisdom. Right before I left my previous employer (medium-sized company with large enterprise mentality), they were deploying Cisco products from the Branch Office solutions line, and relocating our local servers to their corporate datacenter 900 miles away. The more questions I asked, it seemed like the more I was snobbed, which of course just fueled my curiosity even more. I am a Cisco student and have a lot to learn about the product lines available. Could you offer some insight into Cisco's Branch Office Solutions and the 2800 line? Currently, I personally own 1720, 2520, 2521 routers and a 2924-XL-EN switch, all part of my personal study lab. I intend to take the CCNA next month.


Hello, Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading my Cisco newsletter! Yes the 2800 is considered part of the "branch office" solution group but, to me, it is just a great router that can be used anywhere that it fits - not necesary just at a branch. Today, Cisco's branch line is made up of the 800, 1800, 2800, and 3800. I believe that, for the CCNA, you have a good rack going there to practice on! Good luck on your CCNA! Thanks for the comments again! -David Davis

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