I spent Tuesday afternoon visiting iSimCity, Ixia's new for-hire testing facility and Executive Briefing Center, which is located in Santa Clara, Calif. With the new facility, Ixia hopes to give their customers--service providers, government agencies, high-end enterprise and network equipment manufacturers--access to the testing equipment, know-how and test plans needed to perform extremely large-scale performance and quality assurance tests on network equipment, applications and services.
It seems an attractive alternative for those companies wanting to do large-scale testing without requiring the significant cash outlay to build it in-house.
In addition to the access to hardware, Ixia is partnering access to iSimCity with their professional services department, which can help develop, automate and perform tests or provide the training necessary to do all of those processes independently instead.
At the time of my visit, the testing facility was not fully populated with Ixia's equipment--according to their provided literature, the facility is running at one-tenth capacity at this time, with plans to get it fully populated by the end of the year.
At its peak density, Ixia's Director of Worldwide Support Steve Cummings estimates that they would have the capacity to test up to 4000 Gigabit Ethernet ports simultaneously, or about 700 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports instead. He also estimated that they could emulate up to 250,000 simultaneous video or IPTV subscribers at a time.
Compared to a typical data center, Ixia's facility lacks some elements of privacy and security, like locked cages. I asked one of their representatives how they planned to deal with privacy, given that they count among their customers many rival network equipment manufacturers.
Privacy, I was informed, would be maintained via scheduling, essentially making sure that customers were not booked to use the facility at overlapping times. While that seems like an inefficient way of allocating resources, particularly if clients don't need the whole she-bang at once, I guess it will depend on the demand they generate for the facility.
Ixia plans to further their iSimCity initiative via worldwide expansion over time, and the company has plans in place to build similar for-hire labs, first in Bangalore, India and then in London.