Testing 10 GbE Switch Latency

With lower prices on 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches, they are more
prevalent in enterprise deployments. In this special report, Search Networking looks at 10 GbE and how an organization can simulate, measure and test throughput and latency. In the article, Search Networking concludes that latency must be measured when a system is running a number of concurrent connections and session setup/teardown rates that are relevant for your environment as various load factors will affect latency and, ultimately, the quality of experience for your end users.

“Latency can be measured quickly and accurately by commercial switch test tools such as those offered by Ixia and Spirent Communications. Fortunately, then, basic testing is not an issue. The challenge, however, is that getting a valid and useful measurement of latency must be done when the switch is under load.

“More importantly, the load used for testing must be representative of the load and traffic profile you expect to see once the switch is deployed. For example, latency results when the switch is forwarding unencrypted layer 7 traffic tell you very little about the latency of the switch when it is handling SSL transactions.

“Fortunately, today’s traffic generators are quite sophisticated, and you can easily configure your test harness to generate streams of multi-protocol traffic that reflect your actual environment. Statistics from existing network gear, or even monitoring the existing network with a humble network analyzer like Wireshark, can provide you with the information you need to understand the protocol and load characteristics, serving as a starting point in your benchmarking.”

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