Network Test

  • Users expect SaaS, e-commerce, unified communications (UC), and other large-scale, multimedia applications to perform optimally over any device or network, whether it be on a local or wireless LAN or via the cloud. Revenues, customer loyalty, and brand reputation all depend on it.
  • To meet these stringent performance requirements, converged enterprise and service provider networks have evolved to support a complex application delivery infrastructure that must recognize, prioritize, and manage multiply traffic with differentiated classes of service. The emergence of integrated service routers (ISRs), application-aware firewalls, server load balancers, and deep packet inspection (DPI) devices are enabling you to deliver superior application performance and security while improving the quality of experience (QoE) for your users.
  • To ensure the always-on user experience in the midst of this complexity and exploding traffic volume, you need a means of measuring how applications and services will perform under massive loads, real-world conditions, attacks, and impairments.

Let’s start with the overall problems that we are trying to solve here, and look, very briefly, at how each can be answered by MPLS, and what aspects of MPLS, in turn, that we need to test.

User Perspective:

Problem 1: Voice (over IP networks) Customer: Millions of people trying to hold personal conversations millions of others across the globe Service required: A smooth, jitter-free conversation, and without having to wait for 1 sec after speaking to expect the other person to respond, and without having to redail a number of times due to unavailability of service.

Problem 2: Video (over IP networks) Customer: A large multinational company trying to hold a video conference over various sites all across the globe Service required: A smooth, jitter-free conference, and without having to wait for up to 1 sec after speaking to expect the other person to respond and without having the voice and video to be out-of-sync with each other.

 Problem 3: Financial Transaction Customer: A broker in New York trading on the Singapore money market. Service required: A very fast, secure and fully accurate transaction.

Problem 4: Sensitive Data Transfer. Customer: A field salesperson accessing company’s internal database to get sensitive information on competitors and customer.

Service required: A completely secure transaction. And all the above services are to be provided at the minimum cost to the customer so as to remain competitive in the exploding growth path.

Service Provider Perspective: Other than the above services which a Service Provider will have to provide, the other network issues that the SP must resolve are as follows.

Problem 1: Effective bandwidth utilization. One section of the network remains more congested or loaded while other parts are not loaded at all due to Shortest Path First (SPF) Routing. Solution required: A way to route around congested shortest paths and duplicate the capabilities available in previous generation ATM or FR networks

Problem 2: There is large amount of pre-deployed equipment which has to be interconnected Solution required: A unified IP control plane to simplify management of network (as opposed to overlay of IP over ATM or FR).

Problem 3: The need to support new services e.g. managed VPNs. Solution required: A way to provide these new services.

Problem 4: A lot of manual intervention required at present for Network Management Solution required: More automation, moving towards a self managed network, which would translate into lower maintenance costs and higher profits.

Unlike point-to-point network applications, multimedia applications such as data casting (news, stock tickers) and distance learning depend on the ability to send the same information from one server to many users across an IP network.

The deployment of a multipoint service presents an interesting challenge for service providers, in that they need to understand the performance capability of the underlying infrastructure and its ability to handle multicast flows. In the case of a hosted facility where the source server is deployed as part of a virtual platform, the challenge for the service provider is to define the performance limitations of the virtualized hardware platform’s components. In the virtual world all the proprietary hardware for switches, firewalls and routers has been removed, and they now run on a single platform managed by software. Since multicast services tend to be CPU intensive, this can result in key virtual components such as virtual switches becoming bottlenecks as they no longer have the dedicated CPU as per the proprietary solution to deal with possible flood of multicast data.

With multicast services capacity planners face additional challenges when testing the limitations of a network design. Multicast protocols can be taxing on router resources and therefore additional capacity limitations must be quantified. Meanwhile consumers of multicast services expect instant and always on coverage which gives rise to stringent network performance objectives.

  • The term “broadband” is used to describe high-speed Internet access for end customers, via DSL, PON, cable, or wireless networks. Broadband requires numerous protocols and devices to work together seamlessly to provide reliable customer Internet access, especially when rolling out new services that consume larger and larger amounts of bandwidth. To provide reliable subscriber access, your broadband testing must address network protocols, equipment, and network topologies.
  • Does my broadband implementation conform to industry standards?
  • Can my BRAS, LAC, or LNS scale and still meet QoS objectives?
  • Can I test and verify service level agreements?
  • Is my network able to handle subscriber session flapping?
  • Is my network ready for IPv6 transition?
  • Carrier Ethernet technology provides carriers with end-to-end Ethernet services over wide area networks (WAN), and delivers both cost and ease-of-use benefits. However, since Ethernet wasn’t originally designed for carrier networks, many technical challenges come into play — quality of service (QoS) guarantees, rapid failover implementation, service management, and scalability to name a few.
  • New standards and objectives were defined to address these issues, allowing carriers to effectively and reliably deploy Ethernet-based networks. As a consequence, you need new test procedures to validate and verify gear, networks, and services.
  • Does my implementation conform to the new industry standards?
  • Does my Link and Service OAM implementation allow full monitoring of my network?
  • Can my Provider Bridges and Provider Backbone Bridges (PBB) scale and still meet QoS objectives?
  • Can I test and verify service level agreements (SLAs)?
  • Today’s users expect immediate access to a wide range of media-rich applications and services, instantly and from any location. To deliver it all without fail, your data centers must support cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), video-conferencing, social networking, and much more. Companies are consolidating facilities, integrating storage and computing networks, and virtualizing systems across the data centers.
  • Leading cloud providers and enterprises are implementing data centers that are purpose-built for the cloud. You and your network equipment manufacturer (NEM) suppliers of high-capacity routers and switches, storage devices, compute platforms, and security devices are facing new challenges in cloud testing, assessment and optimization:
  • Virtual infrastructure
  • Storage infrastructure
  • Switching tiers
  • IPv6 transition
  • Security
  • End-to-end QoS
  • Application delivery

As testers, we often forget about firewalls and their potential impact on our testing so I thought I’d write this blog as a refresher on firewalls.A firewall restricts the network traffic through them. It does this pretty much like a security guard screens people entering an exclusive Hollywood party. Only guests with their names on the list are allowed into the party. In a similar fashion, a firewall will only allow traffic through if it is allowed by it’s set of definable rules (access control list). A firewall inspects data packets going through them, looking at the source and destination IP addresses or port numbers to make sure they are allowed. It may block certain ICMP traffic and/or allow or disallow access to devices depending on their MAC address (hardware address).

The other day, I read about a web application firewall. It works on a different level in that it examines the contents of the packets (payload) to see whether it’s legitimate or not. It checks the packet, for example, to see if the data sent for the date field on a web form is really a date and not some malicious embedded SQL command. This adds an extra line of defense for web applications by mitigating buffer overflow and data injection attacks. How awesome is that? Obviously, it’s not the “be-all and end-all” but it certainly adds another layer of security to ensure our assets are well protected.

However, having a firewall installed but not turned on doesn’t do much for security. Even working firewalls can sometimes allow malicious traffic through. For instance, firewalls cannot inspect encrypted data packets (although IPv6 apparently alleviates this problem) and there can be vulnerabilities in the firewall firmware itself which could be exploited. At the end of the day, firewalls can’t catch everything but it is a first line of defense.

Networks and networking devices are becoming increasingly complex. Enterprise expansion, data center convergence, and new service deployments link diversified networking technologies and devices that must operate together seamlessly. At the same time, the proliferation of video services continues to push the network infrastructure to deliver higher bandwidth and availability.

The increase in complexity necessitates additional capabilities, flexibility, and power in the router/switch test equipment designed to assess network and network device performance. Such sophisticated test systems must be flexible, highly scalable, easy to use, and fully support multiple routing and bridging protocol emulations. In addition, test systems must generate line-rate traffic and analyze millions of traffic flows with comprehensive QoS analysis.

  • Is my device equipped to deal with the growing demands on network capacity?
  • How does my network perform in conditions of “real-world” traffic?
  • How long does it take my device and network to recover from failures?

It is important to test both the scalability of timing synchronization implementations, as well as the how quickly clocks realign following network failure, to ensure the stability of network services and SLA compliance. To verify the reliability and accuracy of clock implementations, equipment manufacturers, carriers, and enterprises need test systems that simulate these real-world network conditions over long test intervals.

It is also crucial that implementations of 1588 conform to standards to ensure interoperability and clock quality (e.g., G.8261, G.8262, G.813, G.823, G.824) in a multi-vendor environment. The 1588 Conformity Alliance has defined test cases to ensure implementations conform to the ITU-T G.8265.1 Telecom Profile for Frequency.

Do you have difficulty pinpointing the cause of performance and quality problems in your network? SpectVoice Technology will help you locate these problems at their source and quickly address them.

  • Users complaining about a “slow network”
  • Advanced application problems
  • Remote packet capture for detailed packet analysis
  • Firewall problems and web application problems
  • HTTP testing and monitoring of response times and download speeds
  • Possible DNS problems
  • DNS testing and monitoring of success rate and response times
  • Determining the cause for traffic congestion application – how is the network being right now?
  • We determining what router hop is causing problems
  • Distributed ICMP ping from several Probes and Agents towards several IP addresses
  • Are you having problems with your SIP-based IP telephony ? Is it difficult to determine whether the source of these issues is equipment, network, signaling, or UDP/RTP traffic?
  • Measures SIP signaling performance and call quality
  • SLA compliance reporting and alarm triggering
  • Quick troubleshooting in case of problems
  • Knowledge about service and quality level of your SIP services
  • Proactively detect and fix potential problems before end-users are affected
  • Carry out network speed tests towards known points in your network
  • Measure up to Gigabit performance from any web browser
  • Verify detailed statistics such as network packet loss and response times
  • Enable employees or customers to verify network performance as soon as they experience a problem
  • Get summaries and statistics for all executed tests from one place – integrate within your support process
  • Gather traffic statistics from a remote location, works through NAT/Firewalls
  • Discover how your network is being used and identify top consumers
  • Use Wireshark for detailed analysis or access Darkstat on a Probe
  • Gain valuable insight for advanced troubleshooting and network performance planning
  • Time for establishing TCP connections to the web server
  • Time to first byte received within each TCP session
  • Web link download rates
  • More efficient troubleshooting and localization of problems
  • Ensure your website performs
  • Monitor the response times of your DNS services

Do you need the ability to validate the Ethernet data and control planes? Do you need standards-based reports to demonstrate that your Ethernet connections are correctly turned up at delivery time? Do you need features for remote troubleshooting of business Ethernet services?

The tests in SpectVoice Technology go further and is more efficient than RFC 2544, a benchmarking methodology for hubs, switches, and routers for packet-delay, test cycles, and more.

  • 1564 & Y.1563 Ethernet service activation
  • SpectVoice Technology supports ITU-T Y.1564 Ethernet Service Activation Test Methodology (color-aware and non-color aware) to verify that the Ethernet connection complies with the Service Acceptance Criteria (Frame Loss Ratio, Frame Delay, Frame Delay Variation, Ethernet availability) for your Ethernet services, and to verify that shaping and Quality of Service (QoS) are correctly configured. You can also verify ITU-T Y.1563 Ethernet frame transfer and availability performance.
  • How will you validate the capability of your network infrastructure to support IPv6 prior to launch? Want to ensure a smooth rollout without service interruptions? Need to perform remote and efficient troubleshooting of IPv6, 6to4, or 4to6 problems?
  • Test and validate the impact of IPv6 when deployed to your network infrastructure.
  • Validate and ensure that your users with IPv6 connection can access your services.
  • One single tool to troubleshoot IPv6 and IPv4 problems.
  • Simple to do advanced QoS/DSCP/MOS testing and comparisons between IPv6 and IPv4.
  • Ensure your existing and new equipment works with IPv6
  • Efficient troubleshooting of IPv6 and 6to4 and 4to6 traffic
  • Reduce labor-intensive work thanks to automation
  • Measure IPv6 performance in your network and equipment
  • One tool – for validating and troubleshooting both IPv4 and IPv6 issues

SpectVoice Technology is committed to providing technical advice that facilitate transition to SDN and NFV solutions.

Leveraging distributed NFV cloud nodes to provide instant assessment of end-user experience.

Compute resources for virtual network functions are becoming available not only inside data centers, but also on mobile base stations, access network devices and dedicated rack nodes providing “cloud-in-a-box” functionality.

For efficient service assurance and troubleshooting in these distributed and virtual environments, it is recommended to utilize virtualized test and measurement tools that eliminate field engineer efforts and save substantial hardware expenditures, reducing total cost to an order of magnitude less.

Is your network transparent, or are certain protocols or QoS fields hidden? Are you experiencing seemingly random and hard to duplicate network traffic problems?

The transparency test includes several templates that make it quick and easy for you to run a complete set of relevant tests for transparency (both level 2 and 3, many types of ether types). You can easily verify that a point-to-point connection has the characteristics you expect.

  • Verification of any QoS header changes
  • Tests of Q-in-Q and LLC/SNAP
  • Time savings during delivery tests
  • Improve your delivery quality
  • Gives a complete view of a connection’s transparency
  • Priority marking Layer 3 QoS: IP precedence or DSCP (defined per flow)
    Layer 2 QoS: p bits according to VLAN 802.1p (defined per interface)
  • Ether type transparency: Packets with different Ether types are sent in both directions simultaneously.
  • LLC/SNAP protocols: Packets with different LLC/SNAP are sent in both directions simultaneously.
  • VLAN transparency: Tagged and double-tagged frames are sent, with different DSCP and Ether types.
  • Broadcast transparency: Frames with different types of broadcast and multicast traffic with varying Ether types are sent