Pepwave Max 700 Load Balancing and Bonding Router Review

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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Pepwave Max 700 Load Balancing and Bonding Router Review

There are a wide variety of consumer-grade routers on the market, but as business owners know, enterprise applications often require a more robust networking solution that can handle the needs of a company-wide network and take advantage of multiple internet connections. The Pepwave Max 700 is the ultimate enterprise router, supporting up to seven internet connections simultaneously. The Max 700 allows users to balance between or even bond 2 WAN, 4 USB (3G/4G Modems) and one WAW (WiFi as WAN) connection to supply bandwidth for your entire office space. Until the Max 700 arrived, there wasn't a solution that offered this deal of control with 3G/4G modems, managed through a sophisticated back-end system. This functionality gives the system admin complete control over your network environment, which allows you to fully optimize all of your connections to ensure you're getting what you pay for. Below you'll find just some of the must-have features that the Pepwave Max 700 will offer your company!

Application Priority:

The Max 700 offers a unique mobile applications system, which allows you to drag and drop any available connection in order of priority. One common grouping would be by price, assigning your cheapest connections as the highest priority. For instance, you could assign your cable/DSL and WAW connections to the highest priority group because they're typically cheaper than cellular or satellite service. The Max 700 then uses different "health checks" to verify that your highest priority connections are active. If your first priority group fails its health check, the router seamlessly moves over to your second priority group, which is typically a 3G/4G wireless modem.

You can either group multiple modems into a single priority group (load balancing multiple modems) or assign them highest to lowest values (failover), and the Max 700 will continue running checks to determine which connections are available, ensuring complete redundancy. If your business relies on expensive satellite backup connections, the Max 700 could save you thousands of dollars in bandwidth charges by not utilizing that connection when another cheaper connection is available. Below you'll find a screenshot of how these items are managed within the admin interface of the router:

Peplink Max 700 Priority Groups

VPN Bonding:

The Max 700 offers the ability to bond multiple Internet connections into a single link for increased download/upload speeds. This feature is highly beneficial for users relying on 3G/4G modems in the field for real time streams or broadcasting, but simply can't get enough throughput from a single modem. Unlike other bonding/aggregation systems, there are no monthly fees required to use the bonding feature; and all you need is the Pepwave Max 700 and a Peplink Balance 210 or higher to establish a link between the systems. For optimal results users will want to use "like" connections, meaning if you've got low latency connections like Cable/DSL they should be grouped together (bonding a cable connection with a 3G connection, for instance, would not be recommended). You can then assign another group that would manage your 3G/4G connections to ensure you're getting maximum efficiency between your service providers. Below you'll find a screenshot of the Bonding option on the Max 700:
Peplink Max 700 VPN Bonding

With VPN bonding you still preserve the ability to control network priority and maintain structure priority from the mobile application system. Bonding is supported by all connections that are healthy, and can be configured in either "hot standby" (online but not transmitting data until a health check fails) or "cold standby" (offline until a health check fails). This system allows you to bond different groups together or configure specific bonded solutions for specific internet traffic.

The bonding system works by dissembling all data on the Max 700 and reassembling it on the Peplink 210 or higher. This solution is ideal for users that require a lot of bandwidth to share video content, manage enterprise servers and ensure a seamless end user experience. If your business is mission critical and requires guaranteed system up-time, the Max 700 is the ultimate solution to guarantee maximum connectivity and seamless transitions between Internet connections.

IPSec VPN Tunneling:

The Max 700 provides IPSec VPN tunneling, allowing you to create a secure tunnel between multiple connections. This can be useful if you've got offsite employees that need to gain access to a local network on your company server to retrieve files, share secure documents, or print on a local server. The Max 700 IPSec VPN is a cross-platform solution; if you've already got an existing MBR1200 or MBR1400 you can incorporate that router into the setup as an endpoint at another facility. If you don't have another router that supports IPSec tunneling we'd recommend using another Peplink router, which allows you to mirror tunnel settings to streamline the setup process. These tunnels are created with AES 256 bit encryption, ensuring that you'll have a secure tunnel to transfer any confidential information that you don't want getting into the wrong hands.

Outbound Policy Manager:

The Max 700 offers the most comprehensive configuration we've ever seen in a 3G/4G load balancing router. System admins can actually go in and configure specific policies for each individual Internet connection your company is using. This means that you don't have to risk opening ports on every connection, just because you require an open port on one of your connections. By allowing you to create specific rules for individual connections you'll have complete control over every aspect of the network.

Outbound policy rules to set up custom load distribution

You can set up custom rules for each individual connection and use a variety of different algorithms to manage bandwidth distribution. This gives you the flexibility to create one rule for type of traffic (VOIP etc), and another rule for a particular machine (server). This allows you to create custom traffic rules for every connection run into the Pepwave Max 700. Each of these algorithms gives you a different feature set and can be customized within your network to optimize each individual connection. In example you could use the lowest latency algorithm if you wanted to manage your VoIP or PBX systems. You can click on the image above to take a closer look at the the custom rule options and how you can configure your network.

Algorithms for load distribution:
  • Weighted Balance - Manually adjust the distribution of bandwidth between available connections.
  • Persistence - Manage connections via source or destination.
  • Enforced - Force a specific connection to be used.
  • Priority - Organize a high to low list indicating connection preferences.
  • Overflow - Organize connections and automatically switch to the next inline when the connection becomes overloaded.
  • Least Used - Indicate which connections you don't want used unless absolutely necessary.
  • Lowest Latency - Prioritize networks based on latency to ensure you get the fastest response time

Bandwidth Monitoring:

Over the past few years more and more internet service providers have moved to usage-based pricing models where you pay more if you use more data. This makes it crucial to have tools at your disposal to see exactly how much data you're consuming so you don't end up with a very large bill for consuming too much data. The Max 700 offers real-time, daily and monthly data charts that break down complete usage as well as a quick reference of data used on each individual connection. Below you'll find a screenshot of our active Pepwave router managing our entire network at our main facility in Cary, IL:

Click for a larger image of daily usage statistics

What makes the Max 700 bandwidth monitoring unique is its ability to break the information down by individually connected devices. If you have a large data spike you can go back into the router and click on the day or month where you used more data and break that down by each physical connection. The Max 700 auto-detects the device type and allows you to name individual network components for a quick visual reference and to see precisely how much data that particular user is consuming. This allows you to quickly identify any problematic employee that may be using your network to download audio/video files when they should be working. Without the ability to track this data it could cost your company payroll hours with employees abusing company time or result in a large overage charge if you're billed by the byte.

You can find more detailed information about Peplink bandwidth monitoring features here: Peplink Bandwidth Monitoring and Allowance Statistics

Bandwidth Control and QoS:

Within the Max 700 you can create specific per user or group bandwidth limits, that allow you to manage the amount of bandwidth distributed between your managers, staff, and guests. This gives you complete control over who has priority on the network. This ensures that you won't be slowed down by staff members or guests when you've got to get important data out to another facility or make that key stock trade. The individual bandwidth limit allows you to give managers unlimited speed, while staff and guests can be limited on the amount of bandwidth each of them will be able to utilize. The screenshot below shows off the individual bandwidth settings:
Bandwidth limit configuration

If you don't want to break things down by individual users you can also create group bandwidth reservations, which allows you to quickly specify how much bandwidth you'd like an entire group of users to have. After you've assigned your user groups and bandwidth control, you can further tweak your network optimization with application control. The application policies are Layer 7 signatures and give you the ability to identify specific network applications and specify the network priority. If you have high bandwidth applications running you can ensure that they'll be at the top of the list to get sufficient bandwidth maintaining data streams, while other unimportant applications aren't taking away bandwidth that is needed elsewhere. 

WiFi Features:

The Max 700 offers a staggering 500mW output power on wireless 'N' and includes four WiFi antennas to give you excellent wireless range in the office. This is fully configurable, allowing you to step down the WiFi output range if you don't want to broadcast outside your building. With such a powerful WiFi radio this also helps draw in plenty of wireless networks if you're looking to latch onto another WiFi network using the Max 700's WAW feature as an alternative internet source. With newer smartphones using the Sprint 4G WiMAX network and Verizon 4G LTE network, you could turn a company phone into a backup hotspot as another network connection giving you even more flexibility. 

Email Alerts and Redundancy:

You can configure email notifications when any of your connections fail over or fail back to your primary connection. This is done through a SMTP server and can be configured with SSL encryption if you want to ensure that your notifications are secure. The Max 700 gives you the ability to send emails to multiple recipients, preserving continuity between your IT staff and ensuring that they're all aware of any network issues. This can be useful if you've got a very expensive backup system in place and want to notify your primary ISP of network issues so they can get it back up ASAP.

Email notification system

You can also configure multiple firmware versions on the Peplink Max 700, which gives you the ability to quickly change configurations. Sometimes firmware updates can create a network issue and having multiple firmware versions on the router can save you precious time. If you do a firmware flash and find any issues, you can quickly roll back to a different firmware version that you know isn't experiencing the same issue. This can save you quite a bit of time making network transitions and ensures you won't be waiting for a new firmware flash if a problem occurs with a new build.

NAT Mapping:

The Max 700 also offers NAT Mapping, which allows you to easily configure ports on both inbound and outbound connections. If you don't want to create a list of rules for each device, you can configure this feature on any individual connection within the admin interface. This can save time by allowing you to quickly map ports on specific connections for which you need to open a variety of ports. This is similar to a DMZ setup, but can be configured on specific connections to ensure that you don't have ports open on a connection that you want secure. These rules can be configured by IP Address, IP Range or IP network, which allows you to quickly manage specific servers or company hardware that traditionally needs to be configured by adding manual port rules.

Get Around Private IP Issues:

When Verizon launched their 4G LTE network, users saw the increased download/upload capacity as a great option for remote video feeds. Unfortunately, Verizon utilizes a (10.) private IP, which means users had no way of remotely accessing their feeds. In fact, a lot of companies offering prepaid service block ports, and it creates problems if you want to open specific ports or use a dynamic client for remote access. The Max 700 allows users to get around this issue as long as they have one internet connection that has a static public IP on either the head end or remote end. All you need to do is tell the remote unit the IP address or host name of the static route, and the connection can be established with a private facing (10.) IP. This is made possible by the Max 700's ability to create a multiplier effect, which creates a web of VPN tunnels allowing you to finally use LTE for remote-based applications.

Device Support:

The Peplink Max 700 supports most Sprint and Verizon USB modems as well as modems from a variety of other carriers worldwide. Be sure to check our Router Compatibility Chart that lists compatible devices before you purchase the Max 700.

The Peplink Max 700 is a very complex router that offers you an unprecedented amount of user control and connection options. If your business requires a sophisticated solution that gives you complete control over your wired/wireless network, the Max 700 is the perfect solution for you. You get a router capable of seamless failover, load balancing up to seven internet connections, military grade encryption, bandwidth monitoring, QoS and more! In fact, there are so many features that we simply couldn't cover them all without literally writing a book. If you would like detailed information about the Peplink Max 700 please contact us at the following page for a detailed demonstration of all the features and how this router can benefit your company. You can also watch the video demonstrations at the bottom of the page to see each of the interface controls and get a further look at all the features the Pepwave Max 700 offers.

For more information and/or to schedule a live demo - Click here to fill out the contact us form and click the "Submit" button

Related Links:

Pepwave Max 700 Interface Video Demonstrations

The following videos will give you a demonstration of each feature the Pepwave Max 700 offers:

Pepwave Max 700 Dashboard Demo:

Pepwave Max 700 Network Demo:

Pepwave Max 700 Advanced Demo:

Pepwave Max 700 System Demo:

Pepwave Max 700 Status Demo:

Pepwave Max 700 Unboxing:

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 November 2011 )
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