When comparing your options in WAN optimization controllers you might be hearing conflicting claims about key features and architectures that can make it difficult to figure out what makes one product better than another. Most products on the market today are mature and have a competitive feature set. Core features such as compression, caching and TCP acceleration are a given for a product to get on the short list. The performance between products on core features might be similar in routine tests so making a choice could be difficult, but there might be other things to consider that are not so obvious that might really make a difference in how a product works for you.
Consider for example how stable a device is under a heavy load. It is one thing for a device to perform well under an average load, or even to operate reliably near the rated load, which most equipment can do, however do you know how a device will work under a heavy load that bursts up over the rated capacity? Will it stand up to the load or will it block traffic and take a long time to recover?
Another aspect to consider is how accurate performance reporting information is. Does the device account for overhead such as packet headers or just does it just report on payload when determining compression and caching benefits. This difference can be significant for applications that user small packets streams and accurate reporting is important to determining the benefits you are getting.
When you have devices live in your network you don’t want surprises, such as erratic performance results, when you make changes to configuration policies. You need to have a predictable Operating System revision cycle and avoid having too many upgrades that can be disruptive to smooth operation. Checking a vendor’s history of software releases might tell you something about how stable the product is in production.
It can be difficult to get reliable information to help make an informed choice. One way help narrow your selection is to consult performance comparison test reports. Competitive testing can uncover areas of comparison that, while not a part of typical lab tests, are important to your real world deployment of WAN optimization. To be useful a comparison test should be documented so that it is repeatable. Tests should reproduce real world traffic conditions and they should be run sufficient times to be consistent. Test results should be verified by the testing agency and verifiable by customers.
With hundreds of product-comparison analyses published in leading network trade periodicals Miercom’s is a well established testing agency. Read this comparative test report, that is excerpted from an independent industry assessment on WAN Optimization products done by Miercom, to learn how Cisco WAAS held up under serious testing in critical areas of comparison such as stability under load, accuracy of performance reporting, response to configuration changes, and operating system upgrades. Cisco WAAS Miercom Report