Rolling out a new application, especially a custom developed application, will have repercussions on network traffic. Latency, or the amount of lag time, will be important in terms of running the application and user adoption (no one wants to use a slow app even if you force them to). Not only that, any new application will probably have an effect on old applications. You don’t want to break something that’s been working fine for years.
So what do you do? Deploy your code under test conditions and verify that it will work as planned before rolling it out. Of course, very few companies actually do this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard managers say, “we’ll fix it in production.” This is the worst idea ever. After all, would you like to fix a problem with your product before or after it ships? So why should IT be any different?
The field of network hardware and software testing is growing. In the past, this field, especially for hardcore network hardware test devices, was dominated by 3-4 major players who charge a premium for their equipment. These vendors include Agilent, Spirent, and Ixia, all of whom are very happy to sell entry level equipment for $250K . It has always been hard for me to understand why they could charge that much. Where I can get my hands on the equipment I’ll use it, but mostly I rely on open source test tools in order to save myself from those prices.
There’s a new entrant to the network test market that’s shaking things up. They’re called Breaking Point Systems (www.breakingpointsystems.com and they’re based in
I spoke with Dennis Cox, CTO, earlier this week and we had a great chat not only about Breaking Point but also about the test equipment market in general. Breaking Point Systems builds content aware network load test equipment. They generate real traffic that will tell you how your new application is going to affect your network. Will that new ERP deployment run well over your WAN links? Did you buy a fast enough FiX server, or will your transaction time out? Breaking Point ships with 50 applications built in, and you can easily use a GUI to build support for custom applications. One thing that they offer which is incredibly important to my testing is the ability to perform security attacks – the unit comes with 3500 attacks built in.
I’m hoping to get my hands on one of their test boxes. If so, I can write more about it, and I’ve got a pretty good perspective having worked closely with the Spirent and Ixia stuff over the years.