Cisco Networkers Network Performance

Since Cisco is the networking king, people often wonder how Cisco's performs. Well, I was interested in the Cisco Networkers network performance last week. Getting on the network was simple enough. Connect via wireless to the broadcast SSID "ciscolive", then open a web browser to "sign in" to the network.

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There was actually no "signing in", just clicking on the link. No terms of use or anything. Wireless coverage was decent throughout. I never had a problem connecting anywhere.


Next, I did some very basic and "free" performance tests at the conference. From a bandwidth perspective, it appeared Cisco was limiting each user (or maybe session) to around 500 kbps. I know Cisco had more bandwidth than that at the conference, but tests during all parts of the day - including early in the morning - showed about 500 kbps download:

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Plus, while I can't say for sure, I think this 500kbps was enforced with rate-limiting since the test needle on Speakeasy was bouncing up and down around 500 kbps instead of being smooth (like I normally see). I'm guessing aggressive rate-limiting would cause the Speakeasy test to bounce up and down while it tried to increase its rate rapidly, but was quickly knocked down by the rate-limiting.
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Upload speed shows about the same speed in the end, but that test was strange. It would start out at 3-4 Mbps and then move down to the 500 kbps range. Not sure why that is, but it makes sense that Cisco would rate-limit inbound traffic instead of outbound since most of the usage would be inbound to the conference. Speed to the East Coast test sites were the same as to the West Cost; still about 500 kbps to San Francisco:
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Ping times were normal around the US:
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The public IP space we were NAT'd to was an Orlando IP range:

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Which is a /18 registered to mpiNET, a local ISP in Orlando:
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So, it appears Cisco was just riding off the Internet access provided by the convention center, which makes sense. Setup your own wireless, put a firewall in, and tap into the building's Internet feed.


Finally, what could you get to? I was expecting Cisco to block access to some sites, stuff that any open source content filter would block. However, it didn't appear so. The network was wide open with access to normally restricted sites:

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A little surprising that the network would be this open, but that's the path of least resistance (and complaints) with 10,000 clients connecting.

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