Agilent Combines Systems For Network Testing

The N2X can test multiple services in encapsulated and embedded layers over a variety of physical-layer networks, such as Ethernet and MPLS over Sonet.

June 22, 2004

2 Min Read
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CHICAGO — Agilent Technologies Inc. has combined three systems — its Series 900 router tester, its OmniBER XM tester for Sonet and its storage-area network tester — to create a new type of platform for testing multiple services in carrier networks.

The N2X can test multiple services in encapsulated and embedded layers over a variety of physical-layer networks, such as Ethernet and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) over Sonet.

The blurring of services and protocol layers at the network edge had gotten complex enough to warrant a rethinking of architectures, said Rick Pearson, marketing manager in the computer and networking solutions business unit at Agilent.

Existing router testers and OmniBER XMs can receive a software upgrade to achieve N2X functionality, Pearson said, but OEMs and carriers are looking for a single platform that can test both edge and core routers, plus enterprise packet switches and multiservice provisioning platforms.

The N2X, carrying a baseline price of $20,000, has a dedicated 40-Gbit OC-768 port for high-speed fiber links, as well as a 10-Gigabit Ethernet card based on Xenpak optical modules and a 10/100/1,000-Mbit Ethernet test card. Agilent worked with Iometrix Inc. to develop a complete suite of point-to-point E-Line and point-to-multipoint E-LAN services for Ethernet, following the guidelines of the Metro Ethernet Forum.The tester has a general Layer 2-over-MPLS capability for testing frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode traffic, and can support multicast Internet Protocol version 6 traffic, in both native and tunneled modes.

The tester operates on several levels to test frame integrity. For example, bit error rates can be conducted on multistream Ethernet packets. Service disruption can be measured for Ethernet riding on resilient packet ring, MPLS or the generic framing procedure (GFP) for Sonet. Quality-of-service can be verified on multiple virtual private networks simultaneously, using real-time per-stream measurements.

For multidimensional problems requiring the full capabilities of a Layer 4 through 7 tester or an optical bit-error-rate tester, Agilent has developed an "instrumented test payload" to use the N2X with a Layer 4 to 7 network tester or an OmniBER OTN system.

Pearson said the system capability could allow for carrier, enterprise or OEM tests that could be used to emulate the service reliability of many alternatives to Sonet for sub-50-millisecond restoration. The system supports multichannel, through-mode automated protection switching message generation for testing all next-generation Sonet networks, including those using GFP or virtual concatenation. In theory, this could allow Ethernet services to be used in carrier service-level agreements that were quantifiable and verifiable.

The tester also can be used with Fibre Channel SAN networks, including emerging 4-Gbit Fibre Channel systems. It can also be used to test emerging optical transport protocols such as generalized MPLS.0

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