Optimizing and Reducing Costs of High Capacity Network Test Environments

Shlomo Gurfinkel

When looking into Network Packet Broker (NPB) features there are many use cases for those devices, In this post I’ll cover an ‘advanced cross connect’ Use-case for a cost effective automated testing environments.

The NPB Standard Features:

  • Many-to-many port mapping, with a configuration interface (graphical user interface [GUI] or command line interface [CLI]) for real-time adjustments of packet flow, including port mapping and paths.
  • Filtering of packet data based on the characteristics found in the packet headers, allowing the filtering of Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Layer 2 through Layer 4.
  • Packet slicing and deduplication, which allows a subset of the full packet data to be passed to the monitoring device, thus allowing monitoring tools to scale more efficiently.
  • Aggregation of multiple packet stream inputs into one larger stream — for example, five 1Gb or 10Gb links into a single 10Gb or 100Gb link, respectively. Alternatively, the reverse will also work, where a single 10Gb or 100Gb link would be fed into multiple 1Gb or 10Gb connections. The destination would be a monitoring tool with the proper interface.
  • Distributing traffic load per device by sending it to different or multiple probes or appliances to scale the monitoring, or to provide redundancy in the monitoring technology.
  • Hardware-based time stamp insertion for more-accurate measurement. These hardware-based features can change the accuracy of the packet time stamp from milliseconds to microseconds, enabling more granular time measurement.
  • Centralized management interface to configure and administer all filtering, aggregation, dis-aggregation and de-duplication workflows.

As it can be seen just by using the Forwarding capabilities of the NPB One can get a very powerful ‘Advanced Cross connect’ that can be utilized to enhance testing environments

What would you need to enhance your automated testing environment?

  1. High density port count Cross connect device with a small foot print , allowing to connect many tester ports to many test-beds
  2. Management I/F (CLI, SNMP, NetConf, REST API) that can be controlled/configured via an Automation environment
  3. Multi-rate support covering all wanted port rates
  4. Aggregation, Tagging, In-line application support
  5. Statistics (Counters for any forwarding, drop, error events)

While conventional Cross connect platforms supports a single port rate, and in some cases can generate a single copy(TAP) of the traffic, They are very far from providing the benefits of an ‘Advanced cross connect’ the user can get from an NPB device.

The NPB device seen in this post covers:

  • port rates coverage of: 10G, 25G, 40G, and 100G
  • Multiple Media support: MM, SM, Direct Attached Cable (DAC)
  • High Density port counts: 128 x 10G/25G, Or 32 x 40G/100G and combinations
  • Management I/Fs allowing automated configuration
  • Flexible Forwarding capabilities Many-to-Any, Any-to Many

The Any-to-Many supports the ability to Duplicate tester traffic to multiple test-beds, and controlling which test bed returned traffic is analized

The Many-to-Any is a very powerful enhancement to the testing environment, allowing to aggregate traffic of multiple Tester ports into a higher port rate dramatically reducing the Test gear cost, or even allowing to utilize legacy test equipment

Few practical examples:

  • 2.5 x 10G ports can be aggregated to generate a 25G output port used to test a 25G test-bed
  • 4 x 10G tester ports can be aggregated to generate a 40G output port used to test a 40G test-bed
  • 10 x 10G tester ports can be aggregated to generate a 100G output port used to test a 100G test-bed

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