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Enterprise Network Testing Doesn't Have to be Difficult

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May 16, 2011

Enterprise Network Testing Doesn't Have to be Difficult

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

Perhaps the greatest concern with new technologies is their reliability and ability to sustain performance levels under duress, especially in today’s extreme network environments that create increased strain on network infrastructures on a daily basis.

The cloud and virtualization craze that has consumed the technology industry has driven a fundamental change in data center architectures, where entire infrastructures are being replaced in favor of faster, more resilient technologies with smaller physical and carbon footprints. The problem is enterprises have to be wary of the risks imposed by replacing infrastructure on which their delivery of mission critical applications relies.

The fact is that these new delivery models, with dynamic provisioning and an exponential growth in traffic – particularly from wireless devices – can result in service failures and significant downtime and financial repercussions without appropriate planning and testing prior to live deployment.

“Enterprises are going to do more due diligence in these scenarios,” notes Tara Van Unen,

senior manager, New Market Development, at Ixia (News - Alert).

To accommodate the level of testing network managers must undertake, Ixia has re-engineered its IxNetwork application to simplify the process. Version 6.0 of the test platform includes a new intuitive GUI, configuration wizards, canned test scenarios, and click-through automation that includes recording of test scenarios for easy repetition.

In consideration of the emergence of 40Gb Ethernet switches, Ixia has introduced a 10Gb/40Gb combination card that enables both 10- and 40-Gigabit testing. It also introduced a network impairment module for emulating jitter, delay, and other factors that impede network performance, a key consideration in distributed data center environments where WAN performance can be unpredictable. 

“Vendors wanted to know why they could use Ixia for protocols and traffic generation, but had to go elsewhere for impairment,” explains Van Unen. “Our new all-in-one application lowers testing time significantly.”

In addition, Ixia increased the port count and latency in its testing capabilities (up to 6ms), to ensure customers would be able to test network resiliency under worst-case conditions.

IxNetwork 6.0 is designed to provide an end-to-end enterprise-grade solution to accommodate testing of all traffic scenarios, accounting for all applications and network components from various vendors. In fact, Ixia has partnered with the switch vendor community to help validate latency and power claims, collaborating with the Lippis Report to produce a published industry benchmark report based on an open benchmarking event that drew seven key vendors (the one notable absentee being Cisco (News - Alert)). 

Both the benchmarking and the latest release of IxNetwork follow a trend that has subsumed the technology world – a singular focus on ease of use while enhancing product richness.

A second round of testing and benchmarking will take place in October and will include 40Gb and 100Gb switching.

“We are very excited about the recognition the report and testing has received,” notes Van Unen. “In the enterprise, testing is often considered a dirty word, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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