Wide Area Application Services

Network World has provided an independent review of the new WAVE appliances after conducting extensive lab testing of the appliances. The report’s executive summary says it all – “The latest release of Cisco’s WAN optimization product line — Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) 4.4 — proves that the company famous for routing packets can also shape, optimize and accelerate them”. For customers, this report backed by hands-on testing, provides an independent source of product evaluation that goes beyond analyst or blogger speculation.

Cisco WAAS shows pizzazz by By Keith Schultz, Network World, November 21, 2011. Link and noteworthy quotes below:
http://www.networkworld.com/reviews/2011/112111-cisco-waas-252854.html

Performance: The top-end WAVE-8541 is an absolute speed demon and its ability to handle 150,000 connections and pass 2Gbps optimized traffic over the WAN is impressive…That represents some of the best performance we’ve seen based on previous testing of WAN optimization gear.
Reporting and Monitoring: The reporting and monitoring engine is top notch and overall, we found the system easy to navigate and use. There are a number of reports included in Central Manager, such as traffic and optimization summary, HTTP, HTTPS, video, SSL, MAPI and NFS acceleration reports, and also an overall acceleration summary.
Context-aware DRE: Cisco’s new context-aware DRE (Data Reduction Engine) does away with the segmented cache, opting for a single large unified cache that all appliances can participate in. Cisco’s DRE adapts to changing conditions in traffic and applications.
Video, VDI optimization: What’s interesting is that DRE can also function in a uni-directional mode for specific traffic types, like streaming audio and video, and VDI… take advantage of any cached byte segments in the branch appliance without filling up the data center cach
Manageability: We found the browser-based management UI is well laid out and very intuitive to use…WAAS covers just about all possible scenarios. We were able to create custom policies quickly in just minutes and easily deploy them to specific device groups… WAAS provides TCP optimization, data compression, application specific optimization and intelligent caching, all controlled from a single browser-based management console.
Breadth of Portfolio: WAAS comes in a variety of form factors and deployment methods — a data center appliance, branch office box, virtual WAAS for cloud-ready installations, and a mobile client for Windows operating systems… overall, Cisco has designed a consistent user interface and feature set across platforms
Maturity and Scalability : Cisco’s latest release of WAAS is a very mature and highly scalable platform for speeding up TCP traffic in the enterprise… the TCP support covers just about every conceivable situation.

The report also calls out WAAS optimizations for Citrix Virtual Desktops and Microsoft RDP which can be deployed with Microsoft and VMWare desktop virtualization solutions. The report points out that WAAS does not optimize UDP based traffic today, which could be an option if PCoIP is deployed on the WAN (instead of RDP). Cisco WAAS provides up to 90%+ optimization for Video delivered when using PCoIP with MMR. What we have seen is that Video is the bandwidth culprit in many cases and WAAS Video optimizations benefit PCoIP environments too.

Also, like other leading vendors, Cisco charges for the WAAS Central Manager. However, we provide the integration with Cisco Prime, NAM at no additional cost. As the article points out, this integration is very powerful – “We like that Cisco includes Cisco Prime, its Network Analysis Module, as part of Central Manager. Where Central Manager’s reporting is unique to WAAS devices, Cisco Prime will collect network statistics from all across the network, including non-WAAS appliances. This allows IT to get a complete picture of network traffic from end to end and not be limited to WAAS-only information.”

Pleas have a look at the new appliances on:
www.cisco.com/go/waas

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