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Virtual + Automation = Efficiency

efficiency 

Article Written by Dr. Todd Law

Automation, APIs, virtual, virtualization, containers, containerization

In my role at Spirent as a senior product manager for automation, much of my time is concerned with our traffic generator products, their APIs, the surrounding languages and operating systems, and various pieces of supporting software.  However, a new angle has recently come into focus for many customers who are exploring new ways to increase their efficiency in testing, specifically the use of virtual.

Traditionally, test beds are comprised of physical devices under test (DUT) connected to physical test tools such as a Spirent TestCenter chassis loaded with hardware ports.  Recently, however, more and more of our customers are setting up test beds where both the DUT and Spirent TestCenter exist in virtual form only.  Some of the advantages to such a strategy are the obvious ones, such as a clear reduction in cost, and the ability to run many tests in parallel.

A less obvious advantage (but one that might ultimately bring higher value) is the ability to package up the entire automation environment, including virtual DUT, virtual traffic generator, and test scripts, etc. to be handed off to other stakeholders.  Those stakeholders maybe be internal, such as colleagues who are testing implementations before physical versions of chipsets arrive; they may also be external, such as customers who need to run acceptance tests for each major purchase or new release of DUT software.  While automation simply makes sense for these repetitive tasks, what might be more important is defining a consistent environment across the various users of such automation.  When customers are the stakeholders running standardized tests, this acceleration of testing can also mean speeding up the sales process - something SEs and sales teams in general tend to be very happy about.

Fortunately, Spirent TestCenter is far and away the leader in offering virtualized, and now containerized, incarnations of test ports.  Spirent TestCenter Virtual (shown as STCv in diagram) and Spirent TestCenter Container ports are available at 1G, 10G and 40G rates, and are also supported on the most commonly used hypervisors.  Our customers can also take advantage of our virtualized LabServer to run the Spirent TestCenter application for a completely virtualized deployment.  The diagram below shows how these virtualized components could be used together in a test bed topology.

spirent diagram 

Furthermore, from an automation perspective, the exact same APIs that are used to drive the hardware versions of Spirent TestCenter can also be used to drive the virtual and containerized versions of Spirent TestCenter.  This brings yet another efficiency for test engineers who are developing scripts - they no longer need to hog valuable and expensive hardware ports while they are getting their scripts working.

Please check out the following resources to learn more:

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About the Author

Dr. Todd Law's professional experience includes over 18 years in the networking industries, with leading employers such as Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies, Nortel Networks, and now Spirent Communications.  Network test has been his focus for the past 14 years, and he has specialized in automation aspects of network test for the past five years. During that time, he has driven automation strategies that span from traditional script-based techniques, to next-generation automation tools which bring orders of magnitude in automation efficiency.  Most recently, Dr. Law has also been instrumental in the formation of the Network Test Automation Forum, or NTAF, whose mission is to standardize the mechanism by which various test solutions communicate with one another.

todd law 

Published Wednesday, January 04, 2017 8:01 AM by David Marshall
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