• 09/22/2003
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Our World, Welcome to IT

We know you don't get Network Computing for the pictures, but we couldn't publish an entire issue about product testing without sharing diagrams of our own test labs.

Our Syracuse labs, on campus at Syracuse University, started as a single room that housed a lone technology writer (Bruce Boardman, now our executive editor) in Machinery Hall (MH) in 1993. This facility was the subject of our first Centerfold, in February 1994 (see "A Blast From the Past,"). Since then, we've expanded significantly, moving to machine-room space on the ground floor of the same building and adding a second general-purpose lab and a Wi-Fi lab, both in the Center for Science and Technology (CST) building. And we continue to grow--we plan to combine these three labs into a single new campus facility in the next year or two (we'll keep you posted).

The two general-purpose labs were designed to test a broad range of products, services and technologies--from anti-spam technology to zero-configuration networking and everything in between. Our CST and MH labs now play host to five full-time technology editors, two contributing editors and a score of freelancers who use our flexible infrastructure to test network- and desktop-management suites, security products, digital-convergence devices, infrastructure equipment, messaging and collaboration software, and other IT goodies.

A Look at Our Labs

click to enlarge

The CST and MH labs are collocated on the university's 10,000-node network, and we frequently use that extended resource to test particularly demanding products. Each lab has its own Gigabit backbone, and there's a dedicated Gigabit Fibre link between the two facilities. All the Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, Nortel Alteon and Hewlett-Packard switches uplink to the backbone via 802.1Q trunks on Gigabit interfaces, enabling us to put any device on any subnet simply by changing the VLAN assignment on any port.

These labs house hundreds of general-purpose 2U, two-processor Intel- and SPARC-based servers and hundreds of 1U client machines, as well as specialized test equipment--traffic-generation and WAN-simulation tools, for instance--from Spirent Communications, Shunra Software and Ixia, large storage arrays from Snap Appliance, and several dedicated systems for use in tests that involve Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, Novell eDirectory, LDAP servers and standards-based e-mail servers.

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