Cisco has over the years developed a reputation for robust, dependable and well supported products. Perhaps a bit conservative, but solid, well built, reliable choices. Choices that are especially well suited to those who are building networks with security integrated into the very fabric of the network itself rather than bolted on afterwards in a best-effort, jugaad or MacGyvered way. One thing we have not been known for is being particularly cheap.
Things have changed. While we still deliver the very best support and our products are still robust, they have these attributes while also delivering stellar bang for the buck. Case in point, a recent comparison done by Miercom where the Cisco ASA 5585-X went up against a similarly spec’ed and priced Juniper SRX3600 and beat it in handily in performance and power consumption at a price that is either roughly equal or cheaper than the Juniper box.
Testing was done with both BreakingPoint (here’s a link of some earlier test results with the ASA on BreakingPoint that they released at RSA 2011 earlier this year) and Spirent. Both boxes performed well in general, with the ASA turning in 24.5 Gbps and the SRX hitting 22.0 Gbps with TCP EMIX traffic, as shown in Figure 1 (above) from the Miercom report.
However, when looking at Concurrent TCP Connections, the tables turned, revealing a pretty significant advantage for the ASA. As shown in Figure 2, below, the ASA provided 10.0 million concurrent TCP connections, compared to 2.39 million for the SRX.
On the green front it gets even more interesting. Cisco as a company is big into green, with our EnergyWise being one example. Many of our execs are also personally into going green with home solar installations and the like, but green doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up performance. One example is the Tesla Roadster, a zero emissions electric vehicle that also sports a massive 295 ft lbs of torque at 0 rpm (!) and rockets to 60 mph (100km/h) in 3.7 seconds. I was recently checking one out at the Tesla store in Santana Row in San Jose and was surprised to see our own Tom Gillis with a big grin in some of their interactive displays. I think Tom fits in the little roadster better than I did 😉
Getting back to ASAs and SRXs though, the Cisco green DNA shows through when you consider that at maximum load the Cisco used just 425 watts, while the Juniper consumed 1168 watts at idle, a significant difference, particularly when you factor in cooling as well.