Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mu Dynamics Moves To Real-World IP Tests

Network testing has traditionally been all about "speeds and feeds." Traffic that matches patterns specified in a protocol's RFC are blasted at the device under test as rapidly as possible until the test finishes or the device rolls over and dies. It's a useful testing method for manufacturers who want to make sure their devices comply with the standards, but terribly limited for any other purpose. Mu Dynamics has introduced a new version of its Mu Testing Solution that focuses on testing for cases that more closely resemble production network traffic patterns - testing that looks more like the "real world" to the network. The new Mu IP Testing System is available now.

High speed network testing is a rarefied world with only a few vendors like Spirent and Ixia building network testing devices from bit blasters that toss frames onto the wire to application performance tests for protocols such as HTTP, FTP, SMTP, voice and video. The significant engineering trick is to generate enough real protocol traffic at the capacities to stress the device under test. The test traffic is never strictly "real world," but test engineers can closely model a typical protocol usage and behavior.

The new Mu testing product allows a customer to combine traffic that is generated by Mu Dynamics hardware according to built-in algorithms, with traffic that has been captured and refined by the customer, as well as data that has been captured and refined by other Mu Dynamics customers and released into the Mu testing community. The result is testing based on scenarios that don't stop with system functionality testing, but include testing for interoperability, system resilience and security issues.

According to Dave Kresse, Mu Dynamics' CEO, the biggest push for the new capabilities came from companies deeply involved in offering IP services of various sorts - companies that aren't limited to the usual suspects for the technology. "We've seen IP services become mainstream across a number of industries. We've really been selling into the carrier services, but we're seeing IP services expand into a number of other market segments. This will expand until IP services are the majority service type out there," Kresse says. He goes on to point out that the expansion of IP services into new markets, along with the expansion within the services themselves, makes testing far more complex than when basic functions were all that mattered. "There are a couple of things that make it tough to insure IP service capabilities. One is the complexity of the environment; the openness makes it tough to know what's running and what all the endpoints are. In addition, for every service [customers] deploy, the service itself is unique, often contains custom pieces and is frequently changing," he explains.

Tushar Patel is vice-president of software and quality assurance for Force10 Networks, a vendor of network infrastructure hardware. He says that while his company uses test equipment from a number of different vendors, Mu's IP test capabilities provide a different view into performance. "Most other equipment is testing for conformance, whether you're meeting the standard or not. This tests to see how robust the implementation is," he says. Patel explains that the Mu equipment is especially valuable when Force10 is looking for security issues in their systems. "We'll try to find out how the hackers might come in through vulnerabilities in the standard. Using this tool you can find the vulnerabilities beforehand and fix them. We used to do this kind of thing ourselves with a traffic generator, but then you have to spend a lot of time building the test in house," he says."

  • 1