How do you know if an application built for Internet, wireless or cellular users will really perform the way it should without a dedicated test environment? Shunra Software believes it has an answer.
Shunra on June 19 plans to launch a new version of its VE (Virtual Enterprise) modeling and simulation software that adds the ability to predict the performance of those applications in a preproduction setting.
Users at Flash Networks, a Herzlia, Israel, company that markets mobile data optimization and acceleration products to wireless carriers, said the new release was a big help in its efforts to improve the quality of video streaming over their cellular networks.
"It allows us to simulate in a more accurate manner how the cellular network behaves, allows us to simulate whether a user is getting full bandwidth and shows whether thats affected by [a user] entering an elevator or underground parking lot," said Rami Ben Ari, director of QA (quality assurance) at Flash Networks.
Shunra VE 4.5 can simulate the unique characteristics of wireless networks, including users moving around while using an application, intercell handoffs and line of sight, as well as congestion, channel noise and QOS (quality of service).
Although Ben Ari looked at other vendors—such as Mercury Interactive, the largest QA testing and load generation provider—he found nothing that offered similar accuracy or ease of use.
"[Shunra VE 4.5] allows us to perform real tests and simulate in a much more accurate manner the real-world behavior. What makes it nice is the interface of VE is drag and drop. It is so easy to create an environment and to change and monitor it," Ben Ari said.
The application—targeted at network experts, software developers and architects, and QA/testing professionals—can help bring those separate groups together to better meet the performance requirements of applications that are not designed to operate well over WANs, said Dennis Drogseth, industry analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, in Portsmouth, N.H.
"Shunra has a unique ability to capture real—not just simulated—environments in a fast footprint suitable to help the designer, QA and network person collaborate with consistent information on how that application will perform and what [service-level agreements] they can reasonably expect," Drogseth said.
Shunra VE 4.5 also allows QA testers or developers to "bring the Internet world into the lab by simulating servers exposed to tens of thousands of users, each with a unique network profile that allocates bandwidth and various network connections unique to each user," said Amichai Lesser, director of product marketing at Shunra, in New York.
"That gives you the ability to see how the server will scale once its deployed across the Internet."
The Internet simulation functions, which cover dial-up, cable modem and DSL user scenarios, help users uncover Web application performance bottlenecks before applications go into production, see the potential impact of pending changes to a Web site before they are made and understand whether a Web site can handle utilization spikes.
With more and more enterprises planning to implement MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) in their network backbones, Shunra also anticipates the requirement to test out different QOS policies before implementing them in production networks.
Network engineers with Shunra VE 4.5 can test out different MPLS policies to see the impact they would have on the user experience, allowing them to create the optimal policy.
"We give them the ability to go through user acceptance tests, where they can bring in the application or line-of-business people to see how the application will behave once MPLS goes into place," said Lesser.
"It helps relieve political pressure because people can see that not all applications have the same needs. Voice over IP may need a quick response time from the network [low latency], but every call only takes 32 kilobits per second. Or they can see that e-mail is OK if it gets there 30 seconds later."
Shunras VE, which competes with modeling tools from Opnet, comprises a hardware appliance that runs the core emulation of the network and interfaces to create the automated user transactions.
It also contains software interfaces for integrating with third-party load testing tools and job schedulers, a central console and a catcher that allows users to capture actual network conditions. Version 4.5 is available now.