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Considering the shortcomings of software-based testing solutions, enterprise IT teams should use hardware solutions more often for network testing. Here are three scenarios where using hardware for network testing is critical.
1. Pre-Deployment Testing
Some applications and services rely heavily on network performance to deliver a high-quality user experience. For example, voice-over-IP (VoIP) deployments require a network with low latency and jitter, or deviations in latency over time, in order to support clear calls. When rolling out a service like VoIP, it is critical for IT teams to accurately test network latency and jitter with hardware to determine if network upgrades may be needed.
IT teams must also be able to test for extremely small variations in latency in order to successfully deploy jitter-sensitive services like VoIP. Software-based test tools simply can’t measure small enough variations in performance to validate networks for VoIP support. With expensive projects, such as adding VoIP capability, organizations can’t wait until after deployment to realize their network is performing inadequately.
Hardware-based testing lets IT teams emulate real-world conditions before they happen. This enables pre- deployment testing, so large and/or expensive deployments can be executed with confidence.
2. Performance and Stress Testing
Excessive traffic is often unexpected. If a testing solution can’t simulate traffic beyond the network’s limitations, it’s impossible to know how the network will perform when it really happens. To ensure availability and performance under high-stress network conditions, IT must be able to drive network traffic to and beyond the limits of the network.
With software-based testing, a single server generating test traffic is not able to generate this extent of traffic, making it impossible to determine what level of performance or latency the network will see under real high- stress conditions. Using more servers to generate this type of traffic becomes complex, expensive and difficult to control. These challenges encourage many IT organizations to simply skip performance and stress testing.
In some industries, for example healthcare, unexpected latency can literally be a matter of life and death. Doctors in emergency rooms need immediate access to patient records, x-rays, etc., and the network must be able to deliver. Remote telemedicine and procedures are also becoming more frequent, and remote instruments are highly dependent on consistent network performance to function properly. These organizations must find a way to perform complete performance and stress testing.
Commercial industries also rely on realistic traffic simulations to prepare their networks for holidays and other high-traffic events. Organizations expecting a period of excessive traffic need to know how to adequately prepare to meet the needs of users and provide consistent quality of service. Not meeting these demands can result in lost revenue, especially for businesses that rely on holiday and event traffic.
Hardware-based test solutions can easily emulate the breadth of traffic needed to prepare for a variety of network conditions.