Billed as an easy-to-use network and application testing platform that enables IT professionals and network engineers to validate the performance of applications, network devices and IT services, Spirent Axon changes the face of testing, said Brian Buege, Director of Engineering, Spirent. The concept behind Axon is to give people a mechanism to put synthetic traffic on the network and measure how it performs, he said. Users can run tests in minutes to generate and model realistic traffic scenarios that benchmark and validate the performance of applications and network infrastructure.
Spirent has been providing the network industry, primarily carriers and more recently, managed service providers (MSPs), including the top 10 players in each segment, as well as the network equipment vendors, with the tools to test and measure performance, said Buege. “We build very precise equipment that help all of the major equipment manufacturers and carriers ensure quality.”
It’s only recently that the company has started selling to enterprises, although they have consulted with many of them for years. Over the last 3-4 years we started hearing from enterprises that CIOs needed to run their networks a lot more like service providers, he said.
“The tools that we sell to equipment providers and service providers are incredibly complex,” said Buege. For Axon, we focused on something that is very simple and easy to use.” In addition to fast – it can be up and running in as little as three minutes – it can be accessed by an Apple or Android smartphone, although he recommends at least a tablet because of the larger screen.
A new report from TechNavio predicted that the networking equipment market would increase at a compound annual growth rate of just 3.61% between 2012-2016, but that the test and measurement equipment market would grow at a very robust CAGR of 24.5% between 2011-2015.
It used to be the network was up or down. It always was important, but now, not only a not-performing network, but also a mal-performing network can directly affect customers and revenues, said Buege. “Not only are networks becoming more critical… they’re also becoming a lot more dynamic.”
However, with the rate of change accelerating, it’s become difficult to do analysis of what the impact of changes, i.e. in terms of virtualization work load, will have on the network. “That’s the genesis of Axon, not just an appliance, but a concept… a dramatically lower price, and simpler to use.”
Although Axon officially debuted this week, Spirent has been showing off the platform for some time. According to Cisco Inferno, a CCIE/JNCIE wannabe, Spirent’s AXON platform, marketed as a small, affordable, end user friendly test platform, is a welcomed change of pass. ‘Testing Layer 2 all the way to Layer 7 can provide detailed information in one place opposed to using a string of home brew tools. By using a new platform that uses merchant silicon and Intel hardware the cost becomes more reasonable.’
There are two ways to use the AXON platform: hardware or VM. The hardware platform is a portable test box that contains 2 x 10gb and multiple 1gb NICs. Accurate down to the nanosecond (I believe 10 ns), this portable packet warp generator is able to spin up and test with accuracy and throughput. The alternative is the VM image. This would allow sping up and deployment centrally and allow spin up and down as required.
Looking ahead, Buege said he could see this product evolving to where it is integrated into the overall fabric of the network. “All the technology inside is geared so Axon could run in the cloud, run in the network.”