A common theme emerged during several briefings with distributed (a.k.a. dual-ended) ADS vendors at spring Interop--let the voice of the customer be heard. Last Wednesday we posted our first "customer voice" blog, and today we ask Cisco WAAS customers to tell the community about their experiences with the technology.
The distributed ADS market was about 4 years old in 2004 when Cisco acquired Actona Technologies. The acquisition gave Cisco basic wide-area file services (WAFS) techniques. Since then Cisco has been busy integrating the technology and making several extensions. Cisco calls the resulting software Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). WAAS delivers a combination of TCP optimization, proxy services, and byte-level and file caching. It runs on Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) hardware platforms, including standalone appliances and network modules (NME) for the Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs).
More recently, Cisco announced that WAAS appliances will ship with Windows Server 2008 installed. Cisco identified Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Active Directory and print services as Windows Server 2008 services it will offer so an enterprise does not need a separate Windows server in a remote office.
Cisco shows a great sensitivity to the fact that any application acceleration technique changes how an application operates on the network. It is, after all, application optimization, not network optimization. Therefore any traditional measurement and management system that relies on packet capture, traffic counters, NetFlow data, or device utilization will be foiled. Acceleration via caching or compression reduces WAN traffic and masks the payload of anything sent. Cisco recognized this fact early and developed an exclusive relationship with NetQoS - a leading network performance management vendor - to overcome this problem. When coupled with NetQoS, Cisco WAAS delivers one of the few ways to operate an effective ADS solution complete with all of the network management capabilities enterprises have grown to rely upon. It's like having not just your cake but ice cream too!
Cisco has invested in WAAS with a key goal to integrate it with the rest of the Cisco network infrastructure. They have come a long way from a late start in a just four years.
If you have deployed a Cisco WAAS solution tell us what you think. Does it live up to your expectations? What were your impressions? A simple "I like it", "I have mixed feelings", or "I hate it" response is fine--but if you have insight to share with the community, then talk all you want. You can post a reply to this blog using your name or anonymously.
If you are using another vendor's product, your turn will come in a future blog.