10: Network TrafficTesting in Software

Generating Data Matrix in Software 10: Network TrafficTesting

10: Network TrafficTesting
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Overview
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In any organization, the data network is the digital nervous system that connects all users with the information resources they need When any part of this nervous system fails, users are without service or cut off from the rest of the organization Although many organizations wait for expensive failures before jumping into action, it is far more prudent for network administrators to take prophylactic action against such costly outages Both troubleshooting and network planning can be accomplished more effectively by using some form of network traffic testing This chapter discusses both preventive and troubleshooting aspects of network traffic monitoring For those who find themselves having to quickly respond to network outages, application problems, and other "fire fighting" issues, we'll introduce some powerful tools you can use to quickly pinpoint the cause of the failure For the network administrator who is trying to get a leg up on outages by using proactive testing, we'll show you how to use network analyzers and simulation tools to properly quantify the impact an application has on your network There is no doubt when armed with this information, you can better predict how your network will behave in the future and reduce unexpected outages
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Testing Your Network
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8 covered many aspects of network monitoring: the concept of using an application to watch the behavior of the network Typically, this involves setting thresholds for various feeds of "interesting" information, so that an action occurs when the thresholds are reached or exceeded Then the monitoring application sends an alarm or trap to a network manager In this section, we'll discuss how to go about taking a more assertive approach to acquiring data about your network
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Benefits of Testing
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Though the costs are greater up front, the benefits of testing will far outweigh the initial investment over a fairly short period of time Because of the growing size and complexity of today's networks, administrators are finding that they cannot remain in a reactive mode they want to start doing something to reduce the number of fires Let's look at some of the benefits of testing
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Proactive network testing can achieve tremendous savings How does the saying go "An ounce of prevention " Here are some areas in which proactive testing can save an organization money Application rollout Testing a new application before rolling it out to the production network will allow you to gauge how it will function and affect the other applications Reduce network slowdowns Certainly, network outages are aggravating and extremely costly but a more frustrating and potentially more costly problem found in many networks is the insidious network slowdown Outages get attention right away and are usually resolved relatively quickly On the other hand, a slowdown due to proliferating applications and growing traffic loads may go unnoticed and, over time, prove more costly than an outage
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Product awareness Another cost benefit from testing is the leverage it gives you when you are working with a vendor By testing a product ahead of time, you become familiar with the product and how it works in your environment Testing helps you define hardware requirements such as processor power and bandwidth You don't want to pay for a point-to-point T1 circuit when a 256 Kbps Frame Relay connection will meet all the traffic requirements
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Accurate Capacity Planning
It's common knowledge in the industry that computer systems are becoming more distributed in nature Servers are holding more and more of the data users are accessing, and these servers are located remotely, away from the user's LAN Some enterprise applications are widely distributed (for example, e-mail, group organizers, and database applications such as Lotus Notes) This means more traffic is traversing the network, and users must depend on network efficiency for crucial and timely information Increased traffic load causes network slowdown and sometimes outages Typically in the past, only a few people were affected by a network outage These days, however, nearly every person in the corporation depends on the network to do their jobs For some, an outage may be an annoying inconvenience; but, for others, loss of access may translate into a loss of revenue or customers Installing unlimited bandwidth for each user is not financially feasible, so administrators must use the existing bandwidth intelligently Testing and planning can help you determine what throughput you need to meet the demands of the applications, so users can do their jobs without undue delays
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