The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Eating our own dogfood

Posted by riverbedtest on June 16, 2009

Alpo In 1988 an email was circulated internally within Microsoft about the importance of “Eating our own Dogfood.”  Usage of the phrase spread not only within Microsoft, but throughout the high-tech industry, where the phrase is commonly used to communicate an important principle.  The principle basically states that any vendor who expects customers to use their products should also be using these products internally, in their own internal IT infrastructure.


As with most other companies in the high-tech industry, Riverbed practices the principle of “Eating our own Dogfood.”  With about 1000 employees, Riverbed is a medium-sized company with about 30 office locations around the world.  Every one of those locations have a Steelhead appliance for optimizing WAN connectivity, and every Riverbed employee has a Steelhead mobile software client installed and in use on their laptop or workstation.


However, when it comes to WAAS, Cisco seems to believe the dogfood principle does not apply.  Cisco touts WAAS as a scalable enterprise solution that can be deployed to hundreds of sites.  But they have so far failed to show that they have deployed it at such scale in their own internal enterprise.  Although Cisco believes WAAS is good for their customers, apparently they've been unable to demonstrate how WAAS provides value for their own internal employees.


Any customer considering a significant investment in WAAS should ask Cisco these questions.  How many WAAS devices have been deployed in Cisco's own internal IT network?  Does Cisco have their own operational WAAS deployment that is at least as large as the one that they would propose for your network?

9 Responses to “Eating our own dogfood”

  1. App Accelerator said

    Not sure, if you check facts before posting your blog. Cisco has already done pilot for WAAS inside Cisco and FYI, their pilot is equivalent to your 30 site deployment. Cisco WAAS is deployed in more than 30 site internally. just do a simple search on and you will find the link.

  2. Josh Tseng said

    Thanks for your comment, but am I supposed to be impressed that Cisco has done internal pilot testing for WAAS? WAAS is now almost 3 years old as a product. Don’t you think it’s time for WAAS to go beyond the “pilot testing” stage?
    Read my blog carefully. My question for you or anyone at Cisco is, has WAAS been deployed in the Cisco’s data centers in a manner that optimizes all production TCP/IP traffic? I have checked my sources and the information that comes from within Cisco itself is that no, Cisco’s IT team will not allow WAAS into the Cisco’s core data centers. That being the case, would you not agree that there is some kind of inconsistency when Cisco attempts to propose WAAS for their customers data centers?
    Riverbed has 30 remote sites, and Steelhead technology is used by every one of those sites. You can’t expect anything more from Riverbed. In fact, even locally, Riverbed engineers access all of their data through a WAN simulator with Steelheads optimizing their TCP/IP traffic. This ensures that every Riverbed engineer experiences exactly what each of our customers is experiencing.
    But if you look at our existing customers who have much larger networks than we do, there are many who have hundreds of Steelheads in their networks. We can even put you in touch with them if you are a prospective customer wanting a reference call.

  3. UnfairComparison said

    It is not an apples to oranges comparison. With a network as large as Cisco’s, it’s quite safe to assume that cut-in of any new technology will go through a substantially-larger proving period when compared to a network that is much smaller in size. Also to assume that ANY organization the size of Cisco will move into production for all sites when your network is as large and complex as Cisco’s is foolish. Production pilot within a large organization means the devices are in production, just not deployed to all sites. It doesn’t imply that the product is not capable of being deployed to all locations. It means they haven’t deployed them all yet.

  4. Josh Tseng said

    I would like to understand your concerns, but I fail to grasp why you find my comments so unfair. If Cisco is promoting WAAS for production use in their large customer accounts, many of whom have IP networks that are as large or larger than Cisco’s own internal network, then isn’t it reasonable to expect that Cisco should also have deployed WAAS in production also? What is so unfair about that?
    When you look at Cisco’s other mainstream products–Catalyst, MDS, ASA, Aeronet, etc.–all of these products are deployed internally within Cisco for production use. Some products such as Nexus and Telepresence are newer and haven’t been available for as long as WAAS, and yet Cisco employees are using them. Only WAAS has the dubious distinction of being left out, unwanted by the Cisco IT team. That includes WAAS mobile, which isn’t even available to Cisco employees as an optional software download in Cisco’s internal software distribution mechanism.

  5. John Pascual said

    I know this comment is kinda late but I just want to reinforce Josh’s post. My CCIE colleague told me that his contact in Cisco (they worked in the same building) doesn’t recommend WAAS due to tons of problems they’re facing with it. Hmm…makes me think if Cisco would just try to acquire Riverbed since Cisco likes to buy companies. I hope not!

  6. Jeremy Blodgett said

    This is interesting and matched my own experiences with the WAAS product and off-the-record comments from Cisco engineers. To be clear I am a Riverbed customer. This came only after a paper evaluation of 11 products, onsite demo of 6, and finally a multi-site pilot. BTW the pilot only took a month and hi-lighted many network issues. The pilot could be called a network health check of sorts. Cisco didn’t make it past the paper evaluation. No one could explain it to us with confidence. Maybe if they deployed it to production in Cisco, fought through thier issues, patched it up, then maybe it would make better traction. Not using it themselves extensively is very telling and the news is not good. I know no one with a successful deployment of WAAS at this point. Maybe I should get out more.

  7. Josh Tseng said

    Thanks for the comments Jeremy, John,
    One of my colleagues pointed out some case studies documenting bandwidth and performance issues that internal Cisco employees have in their own network. Interestingly, these documents don’t show WAAS as the solution to these problems…rather, the solution according to these case studies is to add more WAN bandwidth. (???)
    I wonder about how those in Cisco’s internal IT organization must be wishing that they could use Steelheads to address their internal WAN issues. Too bad for them they can’t…

  8. WAAS Lover said

    I work for a LARGE Health Care Company and have deployed WAAS at numerous sites. I’m stunning at its performance. These baseless claims by competition are really just that. I’d invite everyone interested in WAAS to contact your local rep and ask for Demo equipment for a proof of concept. Let that be your determining factor. Until then I will share that I have other friend using accelerators, and are forklifting Riverbed for WAAS and looking forward to getting things working as promised. I’m closing I’ll say, good luck with your deployments and remember that Cisco isn’t the market leader in so many technologies because they make mediocre equipment.
    (running WAAS 4.1.5f – 10 sites ~ 47.98% reduction in WAAN traffic over the last hour)
    WAAS Lover

  9. WAAS Lover said

    Oh … one other note. Granted this is a late entry but Cisco HAS deployed WAAS Mobile for all their employees.
    My SE uses it constantly and since building it in WAAS school was so simple. I’m putting it into testing in a couple weeks for my company.
    Good luck.

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