Healthy VoIP Nets�Part XX�Network Management Architectures: Spirent Communications

Spirent Communications, with headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., is a worldwide provider of telecommunications test and measurement solutions.

Spirent’s customers deploy this technology in both the laboratory and on real-world networks, with a goal of maximizing the subscriber’s quality of experience (QoE) for a number of networking technologies, including broadband, convergence, wireless, and optical.

The company boasts a number of technological “firsts,” including test systems for 10G Ethernet, VPNs,voice over IP, the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Galileo satellite emulation, and wireless location based service (LBS).

Spirent claims to have over 1,500 global customers, including network equipment manufacturers Cisco, Intel, Motorola, and Nokia; communications providers AT&T, British Telecom, Siemens, and Sprint; wireless service providers Vodaphone, NTT DoCoMo, China Unicom, and Verizon Wireless, and large enterprises including the Bank of America, Daimler Chrysler, Deutche Bank, eBay, IBM, and MSNBC.

Spirent has 1,900 employees operating in 14 countries, and in 2006 produced revenues of over $533 million.

The company was the recipient of a 2007 Global Product Line Strategy award from consulting heavyweight Frost & Sullivan for the “development of unique and innovative IMS test products that cover various applications—from fixed mobile convergence (F/MC) to access and the transport plane.” The research firm ranked Spirent number one in the overall world IMS testing and measurement market in 2007, citing the breadth of the company’s technological coverage and product offerings, revenues in the IMS marketplace, and end-user feedback.

Spirent’s Abacus product line supports the converged networking marketplace. The Abacus 5000 is a fully integrated IP and PSTN telephony test system in a single platform. The system includes integrated analog, TDM, and Ethernet interfaces for the comprehensive testing of converged IP telephony elements—including support for IP telephony convergence (PSTN-to-VoIP systems) and IMS convergence (fixed to mobile).

With these capabilities, the Abacus 5000 is capable of testing the performance of Session Border Controllers (SBCs), IP PBXs, media gateways, media gateway controllers, signaling gateways, trunking gateways, softswitches, IP phones, servers, firewalls, and integrated access devices (IADs).

This test system is designed to characterize a system before a field trial, validate system scalability, identify capacity limits, measure call performance, and automate regression testing. It supports a wide range of protocols, including analog, fax, ISDN, SS7, SIP, H.323, MGCP and MEGACO, and can generate media payloads that include H.261 and H.263 video, and cellular, and various codec formats, including G.711, G.723.1, G.726 and G.729A/B.

The Abacus 5000 SIP Registrar emulates the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Registrar function, and is designed for testing SBCs, firewalls, and other network security elements. This product accepts REGISTER requests, places REGISTER information into the Location Service for the domain that it handles, and binds contact address or addresses with a SIP user. The system emulates real-world signaling traffic scenarios, with up to 200,000 SIP signaling endpoints and up to 845,000 simultaneous registered SIP users per chassis.

For additional SBC testing, the Abacus 5000 IP Telephony Migration Test System lets network equipment manufacturers and service providers test SBC core functionality during development and deployment. The system simulates real-world network conditions with hundreds of thousands IP telephones and/or gateways, generating the SIP signaling endpoints and Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) streams to execute performance and scalability tests. The system can simulate over 100,000 concurrent RTP streams on a single chassis, and can generate and terminate over 7,500 calls per second with RTP per chassis.

The Abacus 5000 supports synchronized measurements with other specialized Spirent test systems. The Abacus 50 Ethernet-VoIP Analysis and Call Generator test system simulates VoIP calling functionality by originating and terminating calls on a standalone platform that is designed for either laboratory or distributed testing. The Abacus 50 Ethernet can troubleshoot and monitor any channel for verification and analysis—generating and terminating calls—and is available in two versions, one supporting 10/100Base-T Ethernet, and the other supporting 10/100/1000Base-T and fiber systems.

The Abacus 50 Analog test system provides analog circuits emulating the subscriber side of an analog two-wire circuit, and can execute a call setup and teardown for each channel, simulating a wide range of applications associated with switch and network testing. The Abacus 50 T1/E1 simulates TDM call generation for lab and distributed PSTN testing.

Spirent simplifies the testing of converged applications and devices with the fully integrated Abacus 5000 platform to test next generation networks, extending across IMS, Triple Play, and VoIP; with equipment that enables service providers and network equipment manufacturers to test migration from legacy to converged networks.

Further details on the Spirent Communications architecture and products can be found at Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors’ network management architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2008 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved

Author’s Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E., is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

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