Spirent scopes out network testing’s next frontier

Spirent TeraMetrics XD analyzers not only handle more traffic, but allow more flexible test suite designs

In our last 10-Gig roundup, we used Spirent Communications’ SmartMetrics traffic analyzers within a beefy SmartBits 6000B chassis to generate 10-Gig traffic streams and manage our QoS and advanced routing protocol benchmarks. This time around, Spirent again came to our aid with new weapons of mass analysis. They’re called TeraMetrics, and wow — do they smoke.

From Spirent’s perspective, building the TeraMetrics line was necessary not only to handle larger traffic loads, but also to empower testers with more flexibility in designing test suites. Even our own testing requirements not only needed to address a very wide pipe, but also needed to handle multiple QoS profiles, hundreds of simultaneous ACLs (access control lists), and several advanced routing protocols.

Our TeraMetrics XD cards managed all these requirements, except a true 10-Gig connection. A 10-Gig-capable TeraMetrics version should be available by the time you read this, but at test time those products weren’t yet in production. Instead, we managed 10-Gig connections via two-port 10-Gig SmartMetrics cards.

We installed the TeraMetrics XD cards below the two-port cards in a SmartBits 6000C chassis. Each XD card carries four 1GbE ports — noteworthy because each port could be either 10/100/1000 copper or 1GbE fiber depending on your requirements. This allows testers to mix and match throughput rates even on individual cards.

Although TeraMetrics can talk to Spirent’s usual SmartFlow and SmartWindows testing applications, they can also run its WebAvalanche software suite. Each blade can act as either a WebAvalanche or a WebReflector for Web-based protocol and application-layer testing. With this capability, TeraMetrics can not only measure maximum data throughput, but also routing, multicast, and security protocol performance.

This means you can verify architectures incorporating typical physical network layer devices as well as end-node performance from devices such as servers, firewalls, SSL accelerators, and VPN aggregators. Previously, you could test throughput only on a given network path; this stuff understands performance on the path and response performance of the receiving node.

Look for an in-depth review of Spirent’s new TeraMetrics and WebAvalanche products in our upcoming Network Testing Tools roundup. Until then, if advanced network capacity planning or architecture verification is on your plate, these tools definitely fit the bill.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.