Cisco RV345 Dual WAN Gigabit VPN Router REVIEW

I had the privilege of winning a Cisco RV345 small business router during one of Cisco’s contests, and I have also had the opportunity to “battle test” the Cisco RV345 in my network environment for a little over a year. I am certainly not a stranger to Cisco small business products, using an RVS4000 and SG100–08, RV042G and SG200–08, and RV180 and SG200–18 over the years. When the RV345 was released, I was excited about upgrading to the RV345, and winning one in a contest was the icing on the cake. Nevertheless, I am an objective technology reviewer, so this review will be my honest assessment of the RV345, as well as Cisco in general as a small business networking solutions provider.

Hands-on with the Cisco RV345

One of my favorite benefits of the RV345 is that the router includes a sixteen-port Gigabit Ethernet switch in the same chassis as the router. As someone who needs more than four ports (which are included on many standard router configurations) but fewer than sixteen, having my router and switch all in one device has been a huge benefit and a solid upgrade to my RV180 and SG200–18 combination. Having one device to manage, saving desk space and a little energy, as well as having only one device to reboot when I need to occasionally reboot my networking equipment, has been luxurious. I have plenty of space on the RV345 to service my entire network (two computers, a wireless access point, a network printer, a VOIP phone system, an IOT hub, a weather station, a weather camera, a NAS, a LTE signal booster, and a DVR) and still have room to spare for future expansion.

The RV345 also features a dual WAN configuration, which is ideal for customers needing an automatic backup Internet connection or load balancing on their WAN configuration. In the past, the Cisco routers I have used came in single WAN configurations, so having a dual-WAN configuration on the RV345 has been a beneficial upgrade, one which I am glad to see Cisco adding to small business routers, and one that would be beneficial for Cisco to add as a standard feature on all routers as a competitive advantage.

An even better benefit to the RV345 is that it offers a USB port (actually two) which can be used with a mobile broadband connection for the backup WAN, allowing customers to use both a fixed and mobile broadband connection in a dual WAN configuration. I have not had a chance to test it yet, but I am curious if the USB port could be used with a smartphone running in mobile hotspot mode (since my iPhone offers unlimited mobile hotspot with T-Mobile). If so, it would be interesting to be able to plug in my iPhone into the RV345 as an instant mobile broadband backup in the event my primary connection goes offline (although my primary connection is generally reliable being a local WISP with its own dedicated fiber connection to the tower I access). Another option I could try to test this as a backup with is with a dedicated mobile broadband device, possibly next time T-Mobile offers an add a line for free promo again (to John Legere, hint hint).

Firmware Features

The RV345 firmware also features everything that a small business depends on in a router (DHCP reservation, port forwarding, and firewall configurations, etc.), and accessing and configuring these settings are effortless to make the most out of one’s network environment. The RV345 also offers IPv6 support, which is valuable for future-proofing any small business network environment (my ISP is still running IPv4, but when they eventually transition to IPv6, I can rest assured I will be ready to support it with my Cisco RV345).

A super beneficial feature of the RV345 is VLAN and QoS, especially having VLAN paired with the sixteen-port Gigabit Ethernet switch on board. My network environment utilizes three separate VLAN configurations (one for the majority of my network, one for my VOIP phone system, and one for an LTE signal booster to improve in-building LTE coverage), and I also have VOIP phone system and LTE signal booster voice traffic prioritized in QoS. Pairing VLAN with QoS offers a solid combination to ensure I have crystal-clear voice traffic going over my network. Setting up the VLAN was straightforward, although the QoS settings changed from the RV180 to the RV345 (although for the better as one can more granularly fine-tune the QoS settings on the RV345).

I have not had a chance yet to try out some of the Cisco Smart Licensing features on the RV345 such as dynamic web filtering, client and application identification, and VPN functionality. I would like to have a discussion with Cisco to get a briefing on the Smart Licensing features in the RV345 and how they improve network security in a small business environment, as they seem to be beneficial additions to the RV345. In terms of VPN, I am currently using a hosted Cisco IPSec VPN solution for network security, but comparing what I’m using with the VPN functionality of the RV345 would be interesting to look into.

Network Performance and Reliability

Cisco Small Business Support

Bottom Line

I will also take a moment to evaluate Cisco in general as a networking solutions provider. As a long-time Cisco customer and one who has worked in IT (and will be continuing to serve in IT in academic and education environments), I would not power any network I administer or service with anything else but Cisco networking solutions. From small business environments to the largest enterprise deployments, Cisco offers solutions that fit everyone’s needs of all sizes, all backed with proven performance, reliability, and support. With Cisco small business networking solutions offering affordable solutions near or only slightly more than the cost of premium residential networking solutions, I even recommend Cisco small business networking solutions to residential customers in addition to small businesses. As residential customers operate home office or telecommuting working environments, and as more of our digital lives are powered by the Internet, the additional benefits of Cisco small business routers are handy to have at one’s disposal when one needs them while still offering solid performance, reliability, and support out-of-the-box. Every network of every size should be powered by Cisco. Cisco has been the backbone of my network for years, and I will continue to be both a Cisco customer as well as recommend Cisco networking solutions to everyone I consult with for years to come. I look forward to looking into opportunities to assist Cisco in driving further deployments of Cisco networking solutions into additional environments such as academic and educational networking environments.

Submitted by Nathan Parker
Nathan is an IT consultant for Earth Networks and contributes to the WeatherTogether.net blog. Earth Networks used to own WeatherBug (it was sold to GroundTruth), but Nathan still consults for them on support and training projects. On the WeatherTogether blog, Nathan writes a weekly column for Arkansas weather (hence why he also tweets often with severe weather posts for Arkansas). Follow Nathan on Twitter.

For more information, visit cisco.com.
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Originally published at macsources.com on August 9, 2018.

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