Who Needs Network Emulation Anymore?


in the 1990s, South Africa’s monopoly on wired telecommunications infrastructure created an army of die-hard network engineers known to be masters at squeezing every last byte out of a Diginet wire. These were the days of hardware compression systems to maximize the use of limited resources and network emulators to check how applications would work over the same limited network connections.

Those days were quickly forgotten as large network bandwidth became widely available, eventually even to home users over fiber optics (FTTH). Which begs the question: is there another use case for network emulators? Interestingly, as network capacity has increased, so has network complexity and therefore the number of use cases for network emulation.

First of all, the traditional use case of testing the user experience of applications in places where users don’t have access to a decent network connection still exists very strongly. Banks, for example, have made a huge effort to go unbanked. While those in urban areas with 3G, 4G, or 5G speeds enjoy banking on their cell phones from the comfort of their armchairs, millions of users keep their hard-earned cash under the proverbial mattress because such mobile banking services just don’t get any lower -speed connections have been tested, making them unusable for potential users in rural areas.

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Similarly, Army, Air Force, and government agencies, including tax and port authorities, require systems to be available in remote locations where sometimes the only available connectivity is high-latency satellite communications. Online gaming producers also need to know that they can attract users from all over the world, even if the gaming service is not hosted in the country – and again, the performance of such user experiences can be tested over high-latency connections using network emulators.

There are so many other last mile use cases out there, but the pandemic and working from home has clearly created the need to test the minimum requirements for online services and VPN sessions.

Thus, if an application provider of an online service wants to ensure that it works for users connected via less than ideal connectivity options, then such providers must test those applications for such conditions and network impairments. The Calnex NEONE Professional network emulator is the ideal candidate for QA teams to test these use cases. It allows both network novices and network experts to quickly and easily emulate a wide range of realistic networks including LAN, WAN, Internet, Cloud, Wi-Fi, (A)DSL, Cellular and Satellite to verify application performance.

The decentralization of services has brought with it demands to understand the user experience and no longer just for centralized services. Understanding the performance of applications hosted in distributed data centers and cloud-hosted services is essential to any successful data center or cloud migration project. In addition to the user experience that needs to be as good or better after a data center move, network engineers must also consider east-west traffic and the impact of network degradation on that traffic.

Finally, network technology and architecture have undergone multiple changes to enable more cost-effective and flexible use of the network resource while establishing mechanisms to provide higher quality of service. Many South African enterprise networks have migrated from static Diginet circuits to Frame Relay, then to Asynchronous Transfer Mode, then to Multiprotocol Label Switching and finally to a mix of network technologies overlaid with Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Most organizations today use SDN providers, but testing their applications over such networks remains elusive as most providers do not have a sufficiently representative test network. Similarly, the selection of suitable edge SDN devices is usually based on a proof of concept for such devices, but such testing should never be performed on the production network. Therefore, a virtual test network is again required to provide a repeatable set of test network conditions and impairments so that network engineers can objectively compare different network devices that have undergone the same test set with the same range of conditions. This is where the Calnex NEONE Enterprise comes into play.


Backed by ISO 9001:2015 certification for the development and deployment of software-defined test network products and related support, the redesigned NE-ONE Enterprise Edition is at the forefront of network emulation.

The full range of NEONE network emulators offers easy setup, sample configuration templates, saving custom settings in templates for future use and a variety of different impairment features including bandwidth limitations, packet loss, high latency or packet delay variations. An intuitive graphical user interface makes setting up emulated networks a breeze, and numerous physical emulator form factors with different feeds and speeds are available, as well as a certified virtual appliance for the ESXi server emulator.

Network emulation use cases by QA and network teams have clearly increased. Fortunately, this is also the solution offering, backed by support and services from IT Ecology.

For more details, please download the Network Emulation Essentials Guide or contact IT Ecology.

About IT ecology
Founded in 2004, IT Ecology’s mission is to provide the sub-Saharan African market with technical testing and monitoring capabilities that excel at meeting unique customer needs. Our low staff turnover ensures that important experiences and intellectual property remain within the organization while fostering a learning culture for newer team members. Coupled with a “can-do” attitude, our team has consistently delighted our customers and exceeded expectations. Customers call on IT-Ökologie as a solution thinker and consultant.

For more information, visit www.itecology.co.za or the company’s LinkedIn page.

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