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How does CISCO WAAS work?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/24/2010

Do not confuse CISCO WAAS with the WAAS used in GPS. Unlike the Wide Area Augmentation System used in certain fields of GPS, Cisco WAAS is designed to improve the speed of interaction among different WANs. Let us take a look at the system underneath CISCO WAAS.

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    CISCO WAAS – An Introduction

    The CISCO Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) is a system designed to optimize the client-server traffic thereby improving the performance of WANs. Many IT organizations employ a centralized data distribution system that can connect to dozens of remote stations where you work. The commands and data entered by you are transferred to the centralized server and you get the results from the central station. This facilitates keeping all your data at a central place while allowing you to work from different stations.

    The role of CISCO WAAS is to optimize the traffic among the central and remote stations for even faster processing, especially where you are dealing with Multimedia type data. Basically, CISCO WAAS brings in better response time and reduced bandwidth requirements when you are implementing a WAN that includes a central server connected to different remote workstations.

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    CISCO WAAS – How does it Work?

    There are three main components of CISCO WAAS: TFO, DRE, and Persistent LZ compression. Each of the components has its own advantages to keep your WAN, a step ahead of others.

    The CISCO WAAS Transport Flow Optimization (TFO): The TFO allows quick logins and logouts – to avoid congestion with many people logging in at the beginning of their shift. In addition, it also offers protection to the data packets travelling over the WAN and reproduces copies of lost packets quickly to avoid delay in WAN response time.

    The CISCO WAAS Data Redundancy Elimination (DRE): This component of the CISCO WAAS keeps an eye on all the data packets traversing across the WAN and eliminates any duplicate packet to reduce the overload – again improving congestion and thereby increasing the response time.

    Persistent LZ Compression: The role of this module is to keep the bandwidth requirements down to minimum for each user. It can compress data to 5:1, based on the type of application and data in use.

    Overall, all these three components offer excellent optimization of any WAN. Though, most IT organizations employ only TFO to avoid traffic congestion, including the other two components offer even more optimization to the WAN performance.

    Using the TFO allows quick logins and logouts at the remote station itself, thereby reducing the lag, screen painting, and overall network congestion that occurs mostly at shift changes.

    CISCO WAAS Performance 

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    IT organizations can benefit with 85-percent or more savings on bandwidth compared to uncompressed data flows. Check out the adjacent graph to understand the savings of implementing CISCO WAAS on different WANs.

    Image Courtesy: Cisco Systems