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Cisco Plays Catchup in DPI Test

If you’re a large enterprise with its own network, an ISP, or a company intent on claiming its own, online, the technology force of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) is with you.

But it may surprise you who shows up on the doorstep to sell it to you.

Results of a test of P2P filtering gear conducted for Internet Evolution by the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , show that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), ipoque GmbH , and Procera Networks Inc. (Amex: PKT) are ready, willing, and able to help enterprises and ISPs reduce network production costs.

Some are more ready than others, though. Cisco, while matching and exceeding its rivals in various test scenarios, offers half the bandwidth capacity of the two smaller, younger companies. Cisco offers a total of four 10-Gbit/s load modules on its SCE-8000 unit, compared with eight 10-Gbit/s modules supported on ipoque’s PRX-10G Traffic Manager and Procera’s PacketLogic 10014.

During the tests, Procera’s and ipoque’s devices, both equipped with four interface pairs, were exposed to twice the load and concurrent connections number as Cisco’s, with its two interface pairs.

Cisco, despite being the world’s biggest networking vendor, was bested in blocking P2P traffic by ipoque, whose PRX-10G allowed less than 0.01 percent of P2P traffic to bypass its filtering, compared with 2.4 percent for Cisco’s SCE-8000 and 2.9 percent for Procera’s PacketLogic.

Further, Cisco, along with Procera, required some updates and adjustments to perform as expected in detecting popular P2P protocols.

Does this mean Cisco’s not ready for P2P prime time?

Hardly. While its DPI device may be lower capacity than the competitors in this test, Cisco, like the others, appears to have emerged from the beta-like vaporware stage all vendors were in during the March 2008 P2P EANTC test.

“Whether we talk about intelligent management of consumer traffic or about freeing bandwidth by throttling the massive amount of P2P traffic, the devices we tested are ready to be rolled out in service provider backbones,” says Carsten Rossenhövel, managing director of EANTC.

As detailed in our latest Big Report, “P2P Taste Test,” vendors have improved performance and accuracy significantly since last year’s test. EANTC increased its performance test bed by a factor of 25, and still didn’t hit the limits of these boxes.

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