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No Traffic with Application Visibility and Control

February 7, 2012 - 5 Comments

I love my job, but I really don’t enjoy my commute….and the unpredictable traffic. Living on the west side of San Francisco and working on the east side of San Jose, Google Maps tells me my journey is a hefty 47.2 miles and 1 hour and 1 minute (without traffic.) Holidays, rain, and accidents can add minutes and sometimes hours.

Twice a day, to and from work, I start asking the questions:

  • How busy is it on the road right now? Is the road full of tired commuters, semis, or concert traffic?
  • Which lane should I be in? If I’m in the fast lane, what are the odds of it coming to a screeching halt while I watch the other three lanes go by?
  • Do I need to detour to another interstate or highway due to an accident or concert?

My solution: a customized app just for me, “SarahTrafficApp” –  it provides visibility into how busy the road is and the types of vehicles, and giving ME priority, will tell me which lane to be in and if I need to detour to another freeway. If SarahTrafficApp sees that there is an unusual number of SUVs sporting 49ers flags and heading to Candlestick Park, it tells me to exit and journey to the parallel freeway. When I’m on the right route, SarahTrafficApp tells me which lane will be the fastest. One hour and 1 minute, here I come!

That’s my commute: traffic is a problem. In contrast, traffic on my network is not a problem with something we introduced not too long ago called Cisco Application Control and Visibility (AVC.)

AVC can help you determine:

  • What applications are running on your network and how much bandwidth they are consuming. It could be video traffic from users watching NetFlix while they should be working, or HDX traffic for Citrix XenDesktop sessions – you name it.
  • The best lane, or quality of service (QoS), for applications running in your network. You can assign critical applications to get the highest priority while non-work traffic gets the lowest priority.
  • The best path or route for that application traffic. Is there a congested link on an upstream router? Ping! AVC finds a better route.

For users of the network, this means a better application experience – video streaming quality up, ability to work more efficiently in a virtual desktop session, and no more VoIP skipping during conference calls. For network administrators, this means you can save bandwidth by not letting your network get swallowed up by non-work applications such as P2P or gaming traffic. You can also cut down on those pesky support calls from folks having a catastrophic application experience.

How does AVC work? It’s a solution based on:

  • Deep packet inspection technology called Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR2) integrated in your Cisco ASR 1000 Aggregation Services Routers (ASR 1000) and Integrated Services Routers Next Generation (ISR G2), which can identify over 1000 applications
  • NetFlow data generated by ASR 1000 and ISR G2 to export data flows for reporting purposes
  • Tools and metrics in the ASR 1000 and ISR G2 (such as IOS Cisco Performance Agent) used to measure end-user experiences
  • Reporting and management tools, such as Cisco Prime Assurance Manager to configure and generate reports
  • Technology in the ASR 1000 and ISR G2s to set the priority and path – set up QoS policies for the applications, or even a level deeper, hierarchical QoS (HQoS) policies, to set a QoS policy only if the bandwidth is limited for that application. For the best route, you can set Performance Routing (PfR) policies—to choose the best path for that application’s traffic to be routed based on link response times

I like imagining this world without bad traffic, and if it can’t happen on the road, let’s let it happen in the network. For a demonstration of AVC, watch our video. And then visit the AVC page at for more details.

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  1. is it possible to configure PfR for Netflow collectors. if yes then please let me know what are the fields Exported by router to a collector and how to configure router for expotring PfR.

  2. @Michael

    NBAR2 extends ~150 applications recognized by NBAR to close to ~1000 applications. ISR G2 also now provides more advanced metrics such as application response time that can also be reported.

  3. I work mostly on the reporting side of Flexible NetFlow for NBAR, Performance Monitoring and Performance Routing. We have implemented all of these technologies on our network and the metrics for determining performance are very insightful.