What's to like about Riverbed, Cisco WAN optimization gear

* Network World readers weigh in on technologies they like

It's nice to see IT buyers fired up - in a good way - over their choice of WAN optimization technology. When Network World bloggers Peter Sevcik and Rebecca Wetzel (from consulting firm NetForecast) asked Riverbed Steelhead customers and Cisco WAAS customers to share their experiences using the vendors' technologies, dozens of readers responded.

It's nice to see IT buyers fired up - in a good way - over their choice of WAN optimization technology (Compare Application Acceleration and WAN Traffic Optimization products). When Network World bloggers Peter Sevcik and Rebecca Wetzel (from consulting firm NetForecast) asked Riverbed Steelhead customers and Cisco WAAS customers to share their experiences using the vendors' technologies, dozens of readers responded.

Here are some of the highlights from Riverbed Steelhead users:

One employee at a Fortune 500 company in the oil and gas industry writes: “We currently have 150 [Steelhead] devices and are deploying more every month. The advantages to deploying Steelhead devices in locations with limited and costly bandwidth have proved a cost savings and value to our company from day 1 of implementing. The ease of use and scalability of the Steelheads offers large to small locations the ability to implement the technology, not to mention being able to reuse the devices when a project ends and another begins.”

Another reader, “JJ,” says Riverbed’s devices sped up the time it takes to ship SQL logs for its SAP backups across the WAN: “Pre-Riverbed the jobs sometimes would run for more than an hour. Post-Riverbed it rarely takes longer than five minutes.” When the IT department moved its file and print servers from a plant to company headquarters, Riverbed’s technology kept those services running smoothly, even over the WAN. “…people asked us why we didn't move it on schedule. They saw no difference in accessing network shares than they did before the move and thought we hadn't done it yet,” JJ writes. “If you're looking to replace remote servers, don't. Pop in a few of these devices and your life will be a lot easier.”

Michael O'Brien (identity not verified) writes that Steelheads are the backbone of his network, which spans offices in Ankara, Turkey; Belgrade, Serbia; Berlin; Bratislava, Slovakia; Brussels; Bucharest, Romania; Paris; and Washington, D.C. “Some of these locations have poor Internet service -- with latency up to 350ms in some places… Having Internet connections fast enough to equal the performance I get from the Steelheads would be cost prohibitive. The price of each appliance in each office is easily less than one year's ISP payments for a connection of equal speed,” he writes. O'Brien also says Riverbed’s service and support are stellar. “To have a product with this level of service and quality makes it a no-brainer decision for me. I know I sound a bit biased and I am -- when a product makes you a hero in your organization, you are happy to put in a good word.”

Cisco WAAS users also had plenty of good things to say:

One reason WAAS is a hit with reader “Domenico,” whose agency has offices in more than 70 countries, is that “WAAS integrates directly into our existing Cisco infrastructure,” he writes. “We have integrated service modules inside our routers overseas and a [Cisco Wide Area Application Engine] cluster talking directly to our core switches at our main office in the U.S. The [Web Cache Control Protocol (WCCP)] utilization is great as there is no requirement for an inline connection -- if there is a WAAS restart from a software upgrade, or if we turn WAAS completely off, WCCP simply bypasses WAAS policies and sends the traffic directly to its destination.” The agency is seeing about 50% reduction in overall traffic, including file sharing, directory services, messaging and Web, he says.

Kirk Reid (identity not verified) led the implementation of WAAS at an oil and gas drilling company with roughly 20 branch offices, 10 of which had local file/print/mail servers. “Supporting these remote site servers was very onerous. Further, all the servers were nearing end of service life and we were facing a $30k/site expense to replace the existing site servers,” he writes. The transition to WAAS went smoothly, and the firm is saving money, he says. “Happy users, tremendous cost savings, both in front-end capital and in operating expenses, and a good relationship with the vendor have made this a solution that I am happy to recommend.”

Jeff Gill (identity not verified) says accelerating Bentley ProjectWise document management and AutoCAD applications was a key requirement for his engineering and energy management firm. “Throughout the past 18 months we are saving $4,000 to $7,000 a month on bandwidth, and have gained about $1.2 million net benefits through more productive consultants. The Cisco WAAS solution we picked gave us additional ease-of-operations and management advantages, because of its transparent integration with our WAN QoS, security, VoIP, and monitoring services.”

There’s plenty more to read in the blog, so check out all the responses from Riverbed Steelhead and Cisco WAAS customers. Also, there’s a newly posted blog entry asking for Juniper WX customers to chime in with their experiences, too.

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