Last month I ran some performance tests over a Cisco ASA 5550 using iperf. There were some performance issues when the ASA was hit with a lot of simultaneous requests. The ASA 5550 is a powerful device so I did not expect any performance problems with 2000 concurrent requests. Our stresstests reported connection problems when the number of concurrent requests increased above 2000 while traffic was way below the maximum supported throughput. To check the wirespeed performance of the ASA I decided to run an iperf test. This test showed expected bandwidth results, but a lower MTU (1408), while all intermediate components are configured at 1500.

Some investigation showed that this was caused by a default maximum MSS setting in the ASA. It appears that the ASA has a default max MSS of 1380. This is set by the command:

sysopt connection tcp-mss MSS_size_in_bytes

The default is 1380 to prevent fragmentation on possible IPSec connections in the path.

To get to MTU 1500 the ASA needs to support an MSS of 1460. This is configured with the following command:

sysopt connection tcp-mss 1460

More information can be found here: