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Q&A: Interview with Netronome, Talking Blaster and Testing Networking and Security
Have you heard about a company called Netronome?  They create solutions that include flow processing silicon, software, tools and acceleration platforms that scale from 1 to 200 Gbps. The company's products are used by networking equipment OEMs worldwide in carrier-grade and enterprise-class communications products that require deep packet inspection, flow analysis, content processing, virtualization and security.

With so much talk about SDN right now, it only makes sense to see what Netronome is up to in the marketplace.  So when I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Proch, director of product management at Netronome, I took it.  

VMblog:  Netronome recently announced a new product developed with Argon Design called Blaster. What does it do?

Daniel Proch:  Argon Blaster is the industry’s highest-performance and most-accurate flow simulation solution in an affordable package for testing networking and security equipment. Developed by Argon Design, Blaster delivers a line-rate, timing-accurate, flow-simulation application on a Netronome powered PCIe acceleration card for use in standard x86 platforms. This enables OEMs to cost-effectively distribute a high-performance simulation and traffic generation solution throughout the engineering organization so engineers can literally “test-at-their desks”. This new approach significantly reduces development time and cost, while simultaneously increasing product quality. 

VMblog:  What are the IT pain points that Blaster solves?

Proch:  Test gear is expensive and complex to use. It is often a shared central resource in contention for use in an organization by researchers, engineering, QA, FAE and other teams. Engineering developers often wait in queue to test their products, which at times, can be too late. Blaster is an affordable tool that turns a PC into a network testing simulator. The high return on investment for many enterprises is in the increased productivity and effectiveness that their engineering teams will experience.

VMblog:  How does Blaster help generate more realistic network testing?

Proch:  For many networking applications, the ability to classify and manage traffic flows is key to enabling the highest level of performance and scalability. Quality of service, load balancing, firewall, intrusion detection, content inspection, data loss prevention, SSL inspection and similar applications all typically require flow-aware processing capabilities. Increasing link speeds, traffic loads and trends to service virtualization are also driving the need for flow processing in network appliances. Blaster is the first traffic generation tool designed specifically for flow simulation applications. With Blaster, you can emulate up to a million unique application flows with accurate, consistent, per-flow rate control. The diversity of flows that can be created and the control of the traffic profile allow a realistic assortment of traffic to be constructed to match any real-world usage scenario with any blend of background, application and security attack traffic.

VMblog:  What are the target applications?

Proch:  Blaster is used in a broad range of applications where scalable, realistic and cost-effective network traffic flow generation is required. Here are some examples of usage scenarios:

  • OEMs of Network and Security Products - performance benchmarking to isolate bottlenecks,  stress testing with real-world loads, security testing with background, application and attack traffic and quality assurance with broad spectrum of application and protocols.
  • ISVs of Network and Security Products - developer unit testing, performance benchmarking to isolate bottlenecks, stress testing with real-world loads, reduce costs by testing earlier in the lifecycle, agile development environment, and quality assurance with broad spectrum of application and protocols.
  • Enterprise, Government and Carrier IT - simulation to validate equipment selection, scalability testing to identify problems before deployment, cyber security simulations, pre-deployment environment-specific testing, trial, proof-of-concept stress testing, troubleshooting, and software/hardware upgrade validation.

VMblog:  What is the relationship background between Netronome and Argon?

Proch:  Blaster represents an innovative product created by industry collaboration between Argon Design and Netronome.  Argon Design is a high technology design services company based in Cambridge, UK and focused on enabling embedded many-core design. Netronome is the leader in flow processing solutions including silicon, software, tools and acceleration platforms that scale from 1 to 200 Gbps. The companies have been long-time partners. Argon developed the software for Blaster, which is powered by Netronome’s flow processors. Blaster was developed and will be supported by Argon with Netronome providing the sales and marketing of the product.

VMblog:  What’s coming up for Netronome in 2013?

Proch:  2013 is going to be a great year for flow processing as enterprises are increasingly looking for solutions to enable more intelligent networking. We believe that 2013 is going to be the year of “flow-based networking” as many enterprises have realized that with the increasing amount of traffic and data, we need to transform carrier and data center infrastructures to make it more efficient through solutions like software defined networking (SDN) and OpenFlow. A flow processor-based architecture is a requirement to make this vision a reality.

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Thanks again to Daniel Proch, Director of Product Management, at Netronome for taking time out to speak with VMblog.

Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:25 AM by David Marshall
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