IT professionals are to be offered a tool to measure the efficiency of their wide area networks.
Many companies now sell products that optimise companies' WANs. But so far, IT managers have had few ways of measuring their success.
However, following integration work between Cisco and monitoring company NetQoS, that could be about to change.
Cisco and NetQoS are working on embedding measurement software into Cisco's WAN optimisation devices, called Cisco WAAS. The software will report up to 40 metrics on each link, including roundtrip time, data-transfer time and server-response time.
The availability of such metrics should mean IT professionals can decide where on their network WAN optimisation devices are best deployed, and it will help them to prepare a return-on-investment calculation.
"Organisations need visibility into the amount of congestion on each link, what applications are running over the link, and end-user response time to quantify 'normal' latency in the application, server and network components," said Cathy Fulton, chief technology officer of NetQoS. "Only then can organisations make informed decisions about which WAN optimisation technologies to deploy and understand how those technologies are working."
The NetQoS software will allow IT professionals to analyse the whole of the link, from client to server. Some monitoring products analyse only part of the link between the WAN optimisation devices, and do not measure server response times, or the effect of the network on the client side of the device.
NetQoS says it is currently working with Cisco on an exclusive basis. But it also says that non-Cisco-based WANs can be monitored with a more piecemeal approach.
Although Cisco is the clear market leader in routers, it is some way behind the likes of Packeteer and Riverbed in sales of WAN optimisation equipment.
The combined Cisco/NetQoS offering will not come cheap. Although Cisco will sell some of the software embedded for free within its next generation of WAAS appliances due in the autumn, IT managers will have to fork out between $40,000 (£19,000) and $65,000 (£32,000) for additional NetQoS software for the full reporting features.