We validated that the VMware hardware we were using (a Dell R610 server) was not the problem by loading up the open source Vyatta router on the same hardware and pushing a hefty 500Mbps (input) through the hardware, using only a single CPU core and a single external Gigabit Ethernet port. We also tested the CSR 1000V and the Vyatta router on Cisco's own UCS Express hardware, with the same results.
With Cisco pushing the AppNav-XE technology into the CSR 1000V, the low throughput may inhibit adoption in Internet-facing applications.
AppNav is Cisco coming backward into the load balancer world no one wants to compete head-on with F5, not even Cisco with a coordinated technology that handles distribution of traffic from the WAN into application servers, such as instant messaging, file sharing, Web traffic and Microsoft Exchange.
AppNav is officially "complementary" to Cisco's older WCCP (Web Cache Communication Protocol), the much-maligned load distribution and redirection technology Cisco took on when it purchased ArrowPoint Communications in 2000. But many network managers will discover that with AppNav they can do away with ugly and complicated WCCP deployments.
We successfully built a small AppNav deployment, putting the CSR 1000V in front of two other virtual machines running Web services and found it easy to put together with ample documentation but we didn't stress AppNav's configuration capabilities or try and scale up because of the 50Mbps limit on the CSR 1000V.
For years, IOS users have gotten away with simple and non-intrusive licensing models from Cisco. The CSR 1000V tries to keep a fairly lightweight licensing model, but there's no question that Cisco is not giving this virtual hardware away. Starting with the March release, you'll be able to license the appliance on a term basis. This means that you have to buy a one-, three- or five-year license, and when that license expires, the CSR 1000V throttles traffic down to 2.5Mbps.
To lock down the CSR 1000V virtual machine as much as possible, Cisco has built a licensing scheme that requires a different license for each virtual machine. Although you can vMotion the CSR 1000V all over your network without requiring a new license, you can't just clone a legal CSR 1000V to get a second CSR 1000V appliance -- you must pay for and apply a different license to the cloned VM.
Network managers looking for high availability can either use the built-in high-availability features of VMware to resurrect a single CSR 1000V, if the host hardware fails, or can use Cisco's own HSRP to keep two (or more) legally licensed CSR 1000Vs alive all the time. Or both.