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Updated:May 19, 2011
Organizations today face several challenges when determining application performance management and ensuring service availability and quality to their users. The problem becomes more complex because of the multiple solutions and point products available to meet these needs without a unified, simple, and consistent solution across the network.
® Performance Agent is a licensed software feature of Cisco IOS
® Software that offers comprehensive application performance and network usage data valuable for network administrators to accurately characterize end-user experiences and optimize the use of network resources. You can enable the feature-introduced with the Cisco IOS Software Release 15.1(4)T Base image-with a simple software activation. After you enable the feature, you can configure it to export application performance analytics, traffic statistics, and WAN-optimization statistics.
Moreover, Cisco Performance Agent works transparently with other Cisco IOS Software services and the Cisco Network Analysis Module (NAM). Aggregated metrics are sent over standard Cisco IOS Flexible NetFlow, and can easily be consumed and displayed by Cisco NAM Version 5.1. Cisco NAM 5.1 is conveniently available as a virtual blade on Cisco Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) appliances, or as a standalone appliance. When Cisco IOS Wide Area Applications Services (WAAS) Express (Cisco IOS WAAS Express) is enabled, Cisco Performance Agent helps to maximize the value of WAN optimization in the branch office.
Cisco Performance Agent is integrated in your network. Because the software is integrated as part of the routers in Cisco IOS Software, IT administrators need only to upgrade the Cisco IOS Software image on the routers. Then they immediately can start gathering valuable data such as measurement of application response time.
The Cisco Performance Agent:
• Uses the deep-packet-inspection capabilities of Network-Based Application Recognition (NBAR) for more accurate application representation
• Supports tailoring and summarization for reduced effect on WAN resources
• Provides application performance analytics for easy consumption by Cisco and partner management
• Inherits Cisco WAAS Express classification policy to minimize configuration
Designed to meet the needs of today's integrated branch offices, Cisco Performance Agent focuses on three primary areas: simplicity, integration, and low total cost of ownership (TCO).
Simplicity and Completeness
One of the primary challenges when gathering application-performance data is to find a simple method of gathering metrics for application performance. Most tools provide individual pieces of the application-delivery chain, providing a partial view of:
• IT service meeting or exceeding end users' expectations
• Challenges around application response time and unavailability
• Understanding network capacity and needs of the branch office
With Cisco Performance Agent, a few simple commands in Cisco IOS Software deliver tremendous value to customers, allowing them to adequately assess the quality of network transactions, application performance, and user experiences across their network.
Cisco Performance Agent delivers combined metrics by gathering data from Cisco IOS Software monitoring tools such as NetFlow, NBAR, and NAM. The data is then consumed by Cisco NAM 5.1 at the data center, thereby delivering a complete and simple solution.
Because Cisco Performance Agent is a part of Cisco IOS Software, it is tightly integrated into the network fabric. Such a close integration helps ensure that any network optimizations through WAAS and metrics collection happen simultaneously without the added overhead of another interception. The tight integration has the added benefit of minimal configuration and compatibility with commonly used Cisco IOS Software services. Network transparency and preservation of IP and TCP header information allow ease of operation and interoperability with network services such as quality of service (QoS), NetFlow, NBAR, access control lists (ACLs), firewalls, and VPNs.
Low Total Cost of Ownership
Cisco Performance Agent is cost-effective and provides the lowest TCO of any solution currently on the market, since it is an integrated solution. By integrating Cisco Performance Agent into Cisco IOS Software and Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2), Cisco Performance Agent reduces capital expenditures (CapEx), operating expenses (OpEx), support costs, and the number of branch-office devices required. Cisco Performance Agent eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure.
Figure 1 shows the Cisco Performance Agent solution with exports from Cisco IOS Software sent over to Cisco NAM 5.1.
Figure 1. Performance Agent Deployment
Cisco Performance Agent is supported on the Cisco 800, 1900, 2900, and 3900 Series Integrated Services Router platforms.
Licensing and Packaging
A single Cisco IOS Software Universal image encompassing all Cisco IOS Software technology feature sets is delivered with all Cisco ISR G2 platforms. You can enable advanced features on the Universal image. In previous generations of access routers, these feature sets required you to download a new software image. Technology packages and feature licenses, enabled through the Cisco software licensing infrastructure, simplify software delivery and decrease the operational costs of deploying new features.
Cisco Performance Agent is delivered through a feature license. For Cisco Performance Agent, you will receive a certificate in the mail validating the purchase of your license.