Real-World Emulating

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It is essential for resellers to ensure the survival of their customers’ businesses and one way to make certain of that is to know exactly how software and IT infrastructure products will function in real-world enterprise environments prior to going live. And because every enterprise network is composed of its own boundaries and idiosyncrasies, the importance of knowing exactly how products will function in real-world enterprise environments is essential to delivering higher-quality, network-friendly products.

Apposite Technologies’ Linktropy 4500 is an easy to use, inexpensive WAN emulator. It provides a test bed for conducting switched LAN-to-WAN experiments and other conditions likely to be encountered in a live application rollout, which can significantly reduce the potential for costly failure and missed deadlines.

The product is designed to recreate different WAN conditions, like varying bandwidth, delays and loss characteristics of T1, E1, T3, E3, OC-3, ATM, xDSL, Frame Relay and dial-up modems and is capable of emulating terrestrial, wireless, Internet, satellite or any other type of WAN.

In setting up the product, CRN Test Center engineers found the emulator very easy to configure and use. Engineers simply plugged the Ethernet cable into two LAN segments. Once that was accomplished, administrators specified the link conditions and proceeded to run an FTP transfer between the two. The transfer is to show the capabilities of the device as well as the effects of latency and packet loss on TCP performance. The unit also comes with a third Ethernet port. This is the management interface. Simply plug any working client into that port and launch a browser to set up all network characteristics in the Ajax-based GUI. There is no messy software configuration whatsoever.

The speed with which emulation began and that it required no learning curve is very impressive. Once configured, the Linktropy 4500 can emulate WAN bandwidths of up to 155 Mbps bidirectionally or 400 Mbps in a single direction. The unit also is capable of providing a packet processing rate of 250,000 packets per second. The Linktropy 4500 can easily handle 45 Mbps of 64-byte packets in each direction.

Linktropy’s ability to switch between multiple stored configurations makes it ideal for automated product testing. In the previous version, the Linktropy required a script, which allowed for the administrator to re-create all the different sets of network conditions for bandwidth testing. On the newest version of the product, it no longer requires a script, making it much easier for users to adjust to varying bandwidths of different intervals.

The 1U WAN tool provides throughput graphs and statistical information, which makes it a fine reporting tool for discovering all issues impacting the environment. The product also will provide statistical reporting on how certain applications will work over a given LAN.

As the WAN becomes more and more imperative because of its reliance on voice, video and data transfer now, emulators like the Linktropy 4500 will help validate and identify potential disruptions to application performance by emulating a decreasing quality of connection.

Pricing for the unit is based on bandwidth. For example, $2,500 will buy 128 Kbps, which is typically found in the satellite space. A more typical configuration is a T1 with 2 Mbps, which will cost $4,000. For 10 Mbps the priced is $5,000 and 10 Mbps on a T3 line is $7,500. The product also includes a one-year warranty, including all product firmware upgrades. Resellers can work directly with the company to provide extended warranty and support packages.

Apposite Technologies said that a third of its current business comes from IT managers that need a tool to test accelerators. Orbital Data, a San Mateo, Calif.-based vendor of WAN accelerator products, is one of the company’s biggest customers.

Apposite offers a single-tier channel program with margins ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent. All partners receive pre- and post-sales support for all packages resold and are given leads that are tailored to each partner’s profile. Prospective partners must be able to demonstrate the skill and capacity to work with complex networking technologies and are required to have a credit check performed. The company pursues an informal approach to training, with most VAR training coming in the form of hands-on use of the product. Apposite support, engineering and sales teams are available to answer specific questions for VARs encountering any problems.

While the channel program covers the basics, partners would benefit from the addition of spifs, rebates and sales goal awards. A more comprehensive approach to marketing also would help VARs move the product via fresh lead generation and name recognition. That said, healthy margins and ease of entry into the channel program help partners looking to get in on the ground floor with this style of offering.

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