Stress testing your application performance appliances

* The Handbook of Application Delivery

We've often discussed the extreme importance of both application acceleration and application delivery, both as a concept and as appliances. In fact, this year Jim published his 2008 version of "The Handbook of Application Delivery." In this extremely extensive treatment, Jim covers many of the products and techniques that are available today, and he provides expert guidance on how to continue to ramp up your infrastructure to handle the exponentially increasing demands.

But as these demands increase exponentially, there is an area that still is quite difficult to imitate: Placing enough traffic on the network to truly emulate how a given device or set of devices will perform when the “big crunch” comes along. For instance, if you anticipate that your network traffic will increase by 300% over the next two years, how do you appropriately test equipment to make sure that it will be able to handle that load? Do you resort purely to modeling? That’s not bad. And you certainly can’t test live on a production network. (Compare Application Acceleration and WAN Traffic Optimization products)

One solution is to use a device or set of devices that are purpose-built to generate traffic that looks like you network’s current profile and/or like you anticipate that your network traffic will be looking like in the future. Such a device should allow you to inject a mix of traffic types, including “legal” and “illegal” applications. Consequently, you have the option to see in advance where problems may crop up and whether the devices really live up to the claims.

Of course, the traffic generators may be overkill for some enterprises unless you have your own test labs. Consequently, in addition to possibly considering these devices for your own use, it is worthwhile to ask your potential suppliers of equipment and/or services how extensively they have tested their products with emulated live: traffic profiles.

For a sneak peak at one of the devices that generates this type or traffic, check out appropriately named “BreakingPoint Systems.” This provides a sample of the type of stress testing that should be a routine part of your next evaluation.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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