Reporting on WAN optimization

* Just how effective is your WAN optimization deployment?

One of the repercussions of WAN optimization technology is that it can hinder efforts to keep tabs on network and application performance.

For example, using TCP session information to gauge application performance gets tricky when there is WAN optimization gear in place. The gear creates multiple TCP sessions between clients, acceleration devices and servers, as opposed to the typically single TCP session that is established between a PC and an application server when there is no optimization gear in use, explain Network World columnists Steve Taylor and Jim Metzler.

To help clear up the monitoring picture, vendors are working together to better integrate optimization devices and management tools. The latest pairing is between Cisco and network management player NetQoS. The two vendors are working together to develop a management interface for measuring end-to-end application response time when there are WAN optimization technologies in place.

The software will be integrated in Cisco’s Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) devices so IT managers can capture application performance statistics from the end user to the data center and validate the results of WAN optimization deployments, the companies say.

“Current WAN optimization technologies obscure application response times through locally acknowledged TCP sessions, making it difficult to quantify the real benefits of a WAN optimization deployment,” said Dr. Cathy Fulton, NetQoS CTO, in a statement.

The integrated software on Cisco WAAS devices will export TCP header information before optimization occurs to NetQoS SuperAgent, the performance monitoring module of the NetQoS Performance Center product suite. Cisco and NetQoS also will jointly market NetQoS ReporterAnalyzer, a traffic analysis module that reports on enterprise wide Cisco IOS NetFlow statistics.

The products are aimed at helping IT executives identify network segments and applications that could benefit from WAN optimization; validate the results of WAN optimization deployments; and troubleshoot problems after rolling out optimization technologies, for example.

Cisco and NetQoS launched their efforts in this area after more than 75 enterprise customers approached the vendors about integrating WAN optimization and performance reporting metrics.

The integrated response time solution will be available in the next release of Cisco WAAS, which is scheduled for the third quarter. NetFlow reporting is available today, with no changes required to Cisco WAAS or NetQoS ReporterAnalyzer, the vendors say. There will be no additional charge for the integrated NetQoS SuperAgent software that operates on the Cisco WAAS Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) and Wide Area Application Engine Network Module (NME-WAE) devices.

Pricing for NetQoS SuperAgent starts at $40,000 and NetQoS ReporterAnalyzer starts at $25,000. The NetQoS Performance Center is available to customers at no additional cost with the purchase of one of NetQoS’ product modules.

“Ultimately, it all comes down to having visibility into what’s on your network before and after WAN optimization device deployment,” Fulton said. “Organizations need visibility into the amount of congestion on each link, what applications are running over the link, and end-user response times to quantify ‘normal’ latency in the application, server, and network components. Only then can organizations make informed decisions about which WAN optimization technologies to deploy and understand how those technologies are working.”

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