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June 6, 2000
Agilent Technologies Inc. http://www.agilent.com has won a round in its race with Netcom Systems Inc.http://www.netcomsystems.com to develop test gear for terabit routers.
So far, Agilent and Netcom are the only two vendors to offer test gear capable of keeping pace with emerging terabit routers in high-speed networks. Both testers analyze BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), which is commonly used to handle Internet traffic in ISP networks.
In booth 6815 at the Supercomm trade show today in Atlanta today, Agilent is showing the latest iteration of its RouterTester working alongside the NX64000 Multi-Terabit Switch Router from Lucent Technologies Inc. http://www.lucent.com. The demo is slated to show the NX64000's ability to handle Internet traffic at rates to 160 Gbit/s.
The Agilent RouterTester was developed last year. But up to now, its ability has been limited to determining how well a switch/router copes with traffic from a single simulated Internet peering point. Now, the tester is able to duplicate and test more lifelike conditions, in which multiple routers from different simulated IP peering points bombard the terabit router with multiple requests at once, This situation is typically referred to as "route flapping."
The new capabilities come from software acquired in Agilent's purchase of Qosnetics, a maker of IP stress-testing software, in September 1999. The latest release of the RouterTester is described by Agilent as being in "very late beta."
Netcom Systems can't yet test route flapping with its SmartBits analyzer. Still, it claims to have two advantages over Agilent. First, it has interfaces supporting 10-Mbit/s up to gigabit Ethernet, as well as OC-3, OC-12, and packet-over-Sonet. So far, Agilent supports OC-12 and OC-48. Also, Netcom says it has more ports in its basic tester unit than Agilent: Each SmartBits box handles 24 ports, and up to 8 boxes can be strung together to support 192 ports. Agilent's RouterTester supports two ports in a "pizza box" unit, and 32 boxes can be strung together to support 64 ports.
Netcom was also first to demo its tester with a terabit router with Avici Systems in April.
But at least one expert cautions against drawing too many conclusions from Agilent's Supercomm demo, particularly since both products are still in the beta stages "With beta code, it's tough to make claims that stick," says David Newman, president of Network Test http://www.networktest.com, a benchamrking firm. Only time will tell how the testers really pan out, he says.
-- by Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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