Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Brief" focuses on MIMIC's use as a tool for testing WiMAX devices.
Vendors of WiMAX management applications have to constantly test
their products for unplanned downtime due to equipment and power
failure, along with regular scalability and standard feature
testing. Gambit's MIMIC Simulator provides a virtual test
environment that reliably tests all these at one tenth of the cost!
Until now, the only way to test was to try applications against a
small non-production network or a test lab. Test labs are normally
much smaller than the actual production network, not to mention they
are very expensive to build and setup. Test labs need continuous
updating because of the evolving WiMAX standards along with devices
Network in a Box
MIMIC Simulator enables network engineers and testers to create,
record and simulate large production environments. MIMIC can simulate
up to 10,000 local and remote WiMAX based network equipment, base
stations, repeaters, and other networking devices like routers and
switchers in one workstation. Each of these devices can be managed
independently or in a group. Pathological conditions can be easily
reproduced since MIMIC gives control over every single managed object
instance of every device. Instead of using traffic generators, call
generators, or any other physical world device, MIMIC supplies an
environment that can run in a hands-off manner.
Equipment failure like microwave transceivers going down, network
malfunction or bad traffic conditions can easily be created. In
addition to making the local/remote WiMAX network management more
reliable, MIMIC reduces equipment costs, removes lab-sharing
headaches and makes the lab even larger than the production network.
MIMIC can simulate remote WiMAX sites and problems related to those
like delays, packet drops and alerts. It can send a storm of alerts
at any frequency, for as long as needed. The engineer doesn't have
to wait for a specific situation to occur.
The good news is that the engineer can freely experiment with adds
and changes to the network to test features like inventory
management - without the worry of the impact to the production
network. Resetting the original simulated environment is easily
accomplished with MIMIC.
MIMIC makes regression testing a snap by helping to create and save
different network scenarios. These tests can be run as many times as
necessary with minimal setup. Every time a new feature or a bug needs
to be tested, a new scenario to the regression tests can be added.
All this can be done without running around the physical lab and
worrying if all the devices are configured properly. Imagine the time
this would save in the testing procedure! In addition, these test
scenarios can be shared between developers and testers, so that the
unit tests that developers perform can be transferred to regression
tests. Another benefit is that MIMIC can be used by the sales force
or training group in order to demonstrate and train on the
effectiveness of the management software under varying conditions.
MIMIC includes a library of scripts and pre-configured large-scale,
multi-vendor networks. MIMIC also includes a discovery wizard, which
can record and duplicate any local/remote production or test lab
network for WiMAX. Using the applications in their duplicated network
environment gives engineers a personalized, accurate appraisal of the
software. MIMIC also offers an assurance that the software will
perform to specifications. There's no more guessing whether an
application will scale to meet the customer's current and future
needs. Engineers know exactly what to expect from the application -
and what not to expect - which greatly improves customer satisfaction
after the purchase.
MIMIC brings remote site WiMAX environmental conditions and equipment
within the reach of network administrators, by simulating both current
and future production environments.
If you would like to share how you are benefiting from MIMIC or
if there is an aspect of MIMIC that you would like discussed, please
let us know.
Gambit Communications, Inc.
Avaya Cuts Demo Costs with MIMIC™ Simulation Tool
MIMIC allows sales force to present dynamic, live CajunView™ Suite demos from laptops
Let’s face it – sales demos of networking gear and network management software are tough to pull off. Networks are complicated, and most vendors cannot afford to set up a demo network in every sales office. A demo, however, is the only way to show the complexities of software and reassure customers that hardware is “real.” Too often, a sales rep’s only option is to fly their customers to the corporate demo facilities. While these facilities are very nice, the networks in them are extremely expensive to build and maintain, have to be shared among sales reps and others that need the facility, and force the customer to commit to spending exponentially more time than they wanted getting a demo. No one will ever know the number of sales that could have been made if demo networks were available locally.
Until now, having a local demo network was a fantasy for most sales reps, but with MIMIC’s SNMP agent simulation technology, virtual demo networks can be set up on a single workstation. With such a “light” demo solution, demos can even be shown to customers right in their offices.
In the past, software and hardware vendors that wanted to bring a network demo to a potential customer had to ship huge boxes of equipment at high cost to the demo site. After the trauma of shipping, there was no guarantee that the devices would work, so smart vendors also sent spares. Set up was required by a technician – taking them out of the field. The cost of all this was exorbitant, including shipping, devices and personnel time. Sometimes after all that, the customer was called away on an emergency.
Today, MIMIC can record a live network, then make the simulation of the network devices available during a demo. For device vendors, they need only show the client one real device, then use the simulation to demonstrate how that hardware scales and how its management application is used. For software vendors, the MIMIC simulated network allows potential customers to experience the capabilities of even the most sophisticated management applications, without the cost of purchasing and lugging around third-party networking gear.
In the past, many sales have been made at vendor showcases – special set-ups where customers were invited to view hardware and software solutions locally. Imagine the increased success of sales teams, each armed with its own personal demo system!
In addition to individual sales demos, MIMIC is perfect for trade shows. MIMIC’s ability to record network scenarios, then play them back at trade shows really supports sales reps in explaining the benefits of their products. With MIMIC, reps are no longer limited to demonstrating their products on the few pieces of equipment available at the show – they can easily demonstrate even the scalability of their products through MIMIC’s ‘network-in-a-box’ capability. A picture’s worth a thousand words… seeing is believing… and demos sell – especially when vendors can show the extreme uses of their products through MIMIC.
Avaya Cuts Demo Costs with MIMIC™ Simulation Tool
MIMIC allows sales force to present dynamic, live CajunView™ Suite demos from laptops
The options for demonstrating networking hardware and the sophisticated software necessary to manage it are limited. Should vendors rent a truck, load it up with equipment and cabling and take it to the customer site? Where would they set it up once they get it there? Should they try to demo the software on the customer’s network? Would the customer allow access to the network for that? What types of unforeseen obstacles – potentially ruining the demo – would be encountered when installing software on a network for the first time? Or should vendors incur the cost to rent a conference room near the customer and spend hours setting up a system, only to have the customer reschedule? Or should they fly entourages of potential clients to a corporate demo center, only to find that one additional person who is key to the decision cycle is not included in the party?
These options consume time and money – not to mention the peril to the potential sale – requiring extensive personnel effort and capital resources. Due to these factors, actual demos of sophisticated networking equipment and network management software are often limited to “serious” customers who warrant the expenditure.
To solve this sales conundrum, Avaya decided to provide laptop-based demos of the complex software and hardware to enable sales force efficiency. Avaya tapped MIMIC, an SNMP agent simulation tool by Gambit Communications, for use in their CajunView Suite laptop demo.
CajunView provides a suite of SNMP-based applications for managing complex enterprise networks more easily. With this product, enterprises using Avaya Cajun Campus products can configure, monitor and control these devices using a single, integrated suite of applications — everything from device configuration to advanced switch monitoring and VLAN management.
Avaya’s CajunView engineers were already using MIMIC to provide simulations of Cajun devices in the test and development cycle, and had seen how it could solve the sales demo situation. MIMIC provided the ability to demonstrate the CajunView’s unique switched management, without building costly demo facilities or traveling shows.
Today, the sales force – which is charged with selling both CajunView and the Cajun switch line – can demo CajunView’s switched monitoring features right from their laptops. This demo mobility increases the number of potential customers that can see CajunView during the decision process, and may eventually lead to shorter sales cycles.
“With MIMIC simulating the hardware, the sales force can show CajunView exactly as they would on a live network,” said Bob Shaw, Marketing Engineer of Avaya. “Customers can see how CajunView handles alarms, how easily devices are diagnosed and configured, and how the different switched network segments are monitored simultaneously. And MIMIC is totally transparent to the sales force, so there’s no additional training time involved.”
Based on the SMON standard, which extends the RMON management standard to switched networks, Avaya’s SMON Master portion of CajunView provides simultaneous management of all switched segments in a network. Many offerings in the marketplace only allow the monitoring of one segment at a time, which makes CajunView an indispensable real-time management tool. MIMIC’s switch simulations allow this multi-segment management capability to be accurately and effectively demonstrated to customers. With MIMIC’s simulations, there is no difference between running a demo with a real device or a simulated device.
MIMIC’s demo scenarios are often more useful than with real networks, because many scenarios are difficult or impossible to create with real networks. For example, on a real network it is hard to create broadcast storms that suddenly grow disproportionately large, or malfunctioning NICs generating large CRC errors, or an Uplink that is causing an overload/congestion situation. MIMIC easily simulates and reproduces these scenarios. Avaya’s sales force can take advantage of this capability to show how SMON Master detects and resolves all these typical problem scenarios.
For the Avaya sales team, MIMIC has eliminated the expense of maintaining additional demo hardware and live demo facilities, as well as the time-consuming coordination of either setting up demos at customer sites or coordinating customer visits to demo centers. Eliminating the shipping of hardware for demos alone represents significant savings.
In addition, the sales team never needs to worry about whether demo equipment and facilities will be available – the demo capability on their laptop exactly duplicates CajunView’s functionality in a live network. From facility costs to equipment capital budgets to shipping costs and personnel administration time, using MIMIC’s simulation capabilities to automate the CajunView demo will create savings throughout Avaya’s sales and marketing organizations.
Founded in 1995, Gambit Communications is a leader in network and SNMP simulation tools that enhance the productivity of network management developers and enterprise users while lowering their costs.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
MIMIC Helps InteQ Manage
The basic tenant of network and systems management outsourcing is simple: turn over network and systems management to an organization that specializes in network management and focuses on nothing else. This provides personnel who are uniquely qualified to monitor and manage networks and have the know-how to meet the expectations of a service-level agreement. Customers that decide to outsource network and systems management want their environment to be monitored constantly and professionally. In addition, they do not want the hassle of daily operations and maintaining management personnel.
Theoretically, if an MSP or outsourcer adds clients to their roster, their economies of scale will allow a profit to be made in the venture. As clients are added, however, the complexity of the network and systems management knowledge necessary also increases along with the amount of customization necessary. Given this, how can MSPs and outsourcers effectively deal with the proliferation of networking devices? How can they keep employees’ training up-to-date? How can they provide the internal tools that help meet service level agreement clauses on network availability?
MIMIC™ SNMP Agent Simulator
MIMIC’s simulation capabilities for SNMP-based device recording and simulation provide one solution for dealing with theroliferation of network devices. Using MIMIC’s ability to capture information on real networked devices (including servers), users then have access to that information in a multi-functional virtual lab. Engineers can determine the impact of additional hardware by creating “what if” scenarios using the simulations. Programmers have access to the real hardware information needed for developing custom applications. Support personnel can also use the simulations for troubleshooting remote problems, by recording the remote network and working on the problem at their local lab. This results in a reduction of travel time and the associated expenses. In addition, simulations can be used to train network operators, administrators, and technicians in a “safe” environment that cannot be harmed by a learner’s mistakes or experimentation.
In addition, MIMIC allows MSPs and outsourcers to run disaster simulations without involving the actual, physical network. These disaster simulations provide an important way of assuring customers that their service-level agreements will be met, even in the event of a natural disaster, site outage or line cut. All these functions not only save time and money, but also make it possible to do many tasks that are not feasible within the physical lab environment.
Overall, by using MIMIC, MSPs can support their customers with a higher level of efficiency and quality and get a much greater ROI with the virtual lab.
Customer Profile: InteQ
“MIMIC was the only way to test this level of scalability for our services without bringing in dozens and dozens of servers and network devices.” Jay Martin, Director of Network Infrastructure Engineering, InteQ
MIMIC Helps InteQ Manage
InteQ’s InfraWatch™ is a management service that provides proactive monitoring, notification and Web-based reporting on the health of complex IT and Internet infrastructures. Charged with servicing enterprises whose infrastructures are comprised of all types of networking gear, servers, databases and applications from vendors around the world, how does InteQ assure customer satisfaction given this heterogeneous mix? By simulating its management services before implementing them.
When you’re the first Management Service Provider (MSP) on the market, you have to stay way ahead of the competition in terms of service offerings. In the MSP space, the more customers you take on, the more scalable and diverse your service has to be. You are expected to manage any brand of server or networking device, as well as the mission-critical applications that fuel daily business operations. So, how do you cope with the needs associated with managing large enterprise networks? One solution for InteQ is the MIMICTM Simulator and its SNMP agent simulation capabilities. By using the MIMIC Simulator before monitoring services are used in production, InteQ assures excellence in management and, therefore, customer satisfaction.
When InteQ decided to use a simulation tool, the engineers conducted an exhaustive search and test of all available alternatives. At the end of this rigorous exercise, they determined that the MIMIC Simulator was the best solution for many reasons, including:
MIMIC was the only simulation tool that had the scalability InteQ required for simulating tens of 1000s of nodes from multiple enterprise customer environments.
MIMIC’s extensive library supports virtually any SNMP-manageable object. The library is updated frequently, and there is a mechanism to easily add devices that are not in the library.
Only MIMIC has the capability to manipulate parameters and simulate different network conditions.
MIMIC runs on many platforms, including Linux and Solaris, which is very important to InteQ.
“In addition to these technical reasons,” said Jay Martin, Director of Network Infrastructure Engineering at InteQ, “the Gambit Communications personnel consistently exhibit a can do attitude given our unique business model. Everyone from the sales team to the technical staff was able to understand our requirements and package a solution that has really worked quite well for us. They really took the time to understand our needs and go the extra mile.”
InteQ is planning to implement use of MIMIC in both its R&D and operations areas. In R&D, MIMIC is used in the development of future enhancements to InteQ’s subscription-based services. These services include InfraWatch™, InfraStream™ for data correlation and analysis, as well as a reporting portal called InfraPortal™. MIMIC’s simulation capabilities are used to assure the scalability and reliability of enhancements to these services before they are put into production, managing customers’ IT environments.
“Our business model is based on a one-to-many model, which means that we must be able to provide 24x7 visibility to hundreds of customers and thousands of objects from a few Monitoring Points-Of-Presence™ (M-POPs™),” continued Martin. “MIMIC was the only way to test this level of scalability for our services without bringing in dozens and dozens of servers and network devices.” With MIMIC, InteQ can set up virtual customer labs that simulate real IT environments. By using virtual customer labs for test and development, InteQ will avoid the capital cost of setting up a massive physical lab, as well as the administration headaches associated with managing such labs. MIMIC allows InteQ’s engineers to get right to work on designing and testing new enhancements instead of designing and building physical test labs that are expensive, resource intensive and become obsolete quickly.
“With MIMIC, InteQ’s engineers are able to perform real-world simulations to test the performance, reliability, and look and feel of management services before they’re put into production,” said Stephen Elliot, E-Services Manager at InteQ. In addition, MIMIC easily allows InteQ’s engineers to develop custom management for their clients. When customers request the management of new devices, InteQ will be able to remove the guesswork from this process and meet the client’s needs right from the start. MIMIC allows InteQ to generate a list of events that the new device can generate, then review that list with the client to prioritize importance and set thresholds that meet the client’s individual needs. For many service providers, this process is fraught with guesswork after management begins, ending with frustration on the client side as the process draws out and useless events are generated.
In addition to R&D, InteQ’s operations personnel benefit from MIMIC’s simulation capabilities. InteQ has a 24x7 NOC that responds to infrastructure issues at clients’ sites. MIMIC can be used to train operations personnel when new applications and enhancements are made, before they’ are put into production. Training in a simulated environment allows operators the freedom to experiment with and learn new features, knowing that they cannot endanger the virtual customer network on which they are learning. In this way, operators can experience new alarms and events and be prepared for dealing with them when they appear while managing client networks.
With the help of MIMIC’s simulation capabilities, InteQ plans to continue to lead the MSP marketplace in introducing new and innovative management services. “Our company background in IT service management consulting and management services gives us the knowledge base to innovate and attract mid-sized and large enterprises to our service offerings,” summed up Elliot. “MIMIC allows us to quickly implement those innovations and meet the growing customer demand for IT management services.”
InfraWatch, InfraStream, Monitoring Points-of-Presence and M-POPs are trademarks of InteQ Corporation.
For more info, see www.gambitcomm.com.
Monday, June 25, 2007
MIMIC Powers APC's Quest for Scalability
Software testing is a thankless job. It is always at the tail end of the development cycle, and the pressure to hurry and release the product is phenomenal. Of course, there are many types of testing all through the development cycle. Types of testing that require a lab with working networks include unit/module testing to spec, integration testing, acceptance testing, regression testing and documentation testing. And in larger organizations, each type of testing requires its own testing labs. The personnel that use these labs have the responsibility for assuring that software works in a variety of network environments, with multi-vendor hardware.
Testing is often looked down upon by "real engineers" who develop the product. Because of this, testing labs are sometimes not as well endowed with devices on which to test the network management applications. And because development comes before testing in each phase, development labs usually get first crack at any new equipment. Too often, testers are pitted against developers for the limited resources for building lab networks. But let one software problem slip out and the testing department is squarely placed with the blame, no matter who made the decision to ship.
How can companies assure the quality of their network management software products without spending all their profits on third-party devices? By investing in MIMIC, an SNMP simulator that allows them to build virtual networks ? even providing each tester with a virtual lab to work in. These "private labs" allow testers to concentrate on predicting what problems are going to occur, without interference from others that would normally share a physical lab. With MIMIC in the testing lab, management can be assured that the turf wars are eliminated and the testers are productive. MIMIC can even be used to record actual network configurations and bring them right into the lab, as part of the test plan. MIMIC allows testers to perform complete testing in all types of scenarios, providing more thorough testing. MIMIC's scalable scenarios allow testing of even extreme scenarios that would be virtually impossible in a physical lab. In addition, MIMIC makes regression tests a snap - MIMIC can record test scenarios, and then reply them. Scenarios can be run forward, backward, fast forward and fast backward at will - like a VCR! Imagine the time this would save in the testing procedure!
With MIMIC, testing proceeds faster, companies can have higher confidence in the level of software testing, and software products can be released to customers more quickly. And winning the time to market battle with the competition is more important than the internal developer vs. tester battle!
Customer Profile - APC
When APC needed assurance of software scalability, they turned to MIMIC ...
"Without MIMIC, it would have been extremely difficult and costly to make the level of scalability claims that we do." C.J. Meiser, Senior Product Manager, APC
MIMIC Powers APC's Quest for Scalability
When American Power Conversion (APC) needed assurance of software scalability, they turned to Gambit's MIMIC SNMP Agent Simulator Tool. APC, who develops the world's most advanced power management software for it's complete line of power protection equipment, was tasked by their customers to provide an application with inventory and status insight into enterprise-wide installations of APC's UPS systems. As the developers began working on this unique application, they realized that the testing required to validate the customers? scalability needs would be a challenge - a unique test bed for scalability would need to be built. In order to assure that the new PowerChute Inventory Manager could find the 1000s of APC devices typically installed across a customer's enterprise, engineers would need to spend massive amounts of time and capital to build a hardware lab just for testing the scalability of the new software. The undertaking was, frankly, cost prohibitive.
In searching for scalability testing alternatives, APC decided to use an SNMP Agent Simulator - a tool that could simulate their devices and allow the use of those virtual devices in virtual test beds. For numerous reasons, APC chose Gambit's MIMIC for the job.
"We looked at other simulators, but MIMIC was easier to use. It also supports Linux, which we use in our development environment. Basically, our biggest requirement was scalability, and MIMIC was the only product on the market that fit the bill," said Brad Hammond, Software Program Manager, APC.
APC's developers used MIMIC to "record" the device MIBs for the APC product set, including the APC SNMP Software Agent and the Web/SNMP Management Card - a card that makes managing APC UPSs a snap. The web card provides APC?s customers the ability to manage, configure and control their power protection devices via SNMP, Telnet or even HTTP. MIMIC was then used to simulate the devices and Web Cards. Simulation scenarios were created with 1000's of devices - just like a customer's enterprise - and the claim of managing 10,000 devices was substantiated.
In the later development phases - integration, alpha test, and beta test - MIMIC was used by the development team (both by developers and QA engineers) to assure that the scalability of the new product held true through each phase. In many companies, scalability testing is often put off until the end of development cycles, if it is done at all. Many companies test scalability when their products are installed in a customer's network - not a particularly good time to uncover issues! With MIMIC, APC's engineers had the assurance early in the development cycle that their PowerChute Inventory Manager software would meet their customers' scalability requirements.
APC attributes huge cost savings to MIMIC. The entire cost of building a physical scalability lab was avoided - including the capital expense and administration costs. In addition, APC did not have to assign development resources to creating scalability tests. As a result, APC's developers were able to focus on the PowerChute Inventory Manager?s functionality, and insure it worked to specification and was of the highest quality.
Caption for the image: PowerChute managing 10,000 APC devices simulated by MIMIC.
Founded in 1995, Gambit Communications is a leader in network and SNMP simulation tools that enhance the productivity of network management developers and enterprise users while lowering their costs.
76 Northeastern Blvd., Suite #30B Nashua, NH 03062
(603) 889 5100
Friday, June 22, 2007
By Pankaj Shah
Until recently, the only way for IT professionals to evaluate enterprise management
applications – either element managers, frameworks like HP OpenView NNM, or value-
added applications – was to use it with their production network, or have an extensive
multi-vendor hardware test lab. Using the mission-critical production network for testing
is very risky, whereas a test lab can become very costly and can be time and space
consuming. The equipment needs setup, maintenance and regular updating of devices
and software releases. Current IT budget cuts require an alternative to the physical lab.
A typical scenario of a management application managing multiple devices over a LAN/WAN.
An Enterprise Management Solution — “Virtual Lab”
The use of a simulated “virtual” lab can eliminate the need for or expand the scope of an
existing physical lab. Enterprises can enhance the lab environment by simulating scores
of manageable devices, such as routers, hubs, switches, probes, workstations, cable
modems and printers.
MIMIC Virtual Lab simulating thousands of devices from leading network management companies
over a LAN/WAN.
A virtual lab combines many simulated devices and connections. In the real world, each
manageable device contains an embedded software agent that accepts management
commands through a standardized protocol. Device simulation in the context of a
simulator means creating a software agent that is manageable in the same way as the
real physical device would be, typically through multiple management protocols. A good
management simulator needs to support protocols like SNMP, Telnet, DHCP and TFTP.
Additionally, Cisco devices use IOS and many devices also use TL1 for management.
SNMP protocol simulation makes it possible to manage the device by getting and
changing the information in the management information bases (MIBs). These MIBs can
be public or private. Manipulating the MIBs helps in simulating any number and any type
of resource within the device.
Telnet is a common way to manage high-end routers. The users can login to the device
and configure it using a command line interface. For example, to manage a Cisco
router, the user can give different IOS commands over a Telnet connection. The
devices in the virtual lab can also be accessed using Telnet and IOS just like real
With DHCP simulation, the devices can obtain their IP address dynamically from the
DHCP server just like a real device. Devices can download their configuration
information dynamically with TFTP simulation.
The virtual lab combines simulated devices with an interconnection exactly like a
physical lab. You can then change the interconnections and topology. All these
topologies and devices can be saved and replayed as needed. The management
applications can interact with the simulations within the virtual lab just as they would
with real-world devices.
Possible Ways to Create Simulations:
Record – The easiest way to create a simulation is by mimicking an existing device in
your lab. The simulation recording proceeds just like many management discovery
tools, sending out pings to find managed devices. For SNMP discovery, the recordings
are the values in the MIB, including system name, type, number of interfaces, types of
interfaces, different activities on each interface, etc.
Simulate – The information recorded by the recording tool can be used by the simulator
as a starting point. The simulation can interpolate the values to create run-time values.
The virtual device gets created in the same state as it was recorded, for example
preserving the network connections by using the recorded routing tables or IP
Customize – Once the simulation is created, it is easy to modify the simulated network
parameters like IP addresses, interfaces, packet rates, etc. by modifying the MIB
variables. For example, you can first create a device with 100 Ethernet and 50 ATM
interfaces, and later on add or remove interfaces.
These tasks can be done graphically, or programmatically using built-in functions and
by writing scripts using Java, C++, Tcl or Perl. You can also associate side effects to
certain events. For example, if an interface of a router goes down, you can disconnect
devices reached through that interface. You can also add delays to simulate long
distance connections or drop packets to simulate faulty links.
If the simulator allows importing ready-made networks and devices, then you can short
cut the initial steps of recording and customizing.
Operate – Once a device simulation is created and configured, you can start, stop,
pause, and halt it – individually or in a group. Each device has its own IP address in any
desired subnet. For example, you can create a topology with 192.3.100.*, 160.2.5.* and
It is easy to introduce dynamic changes into the simulation, such as enabling/disabling
interfaces, increasing or decreasing packet rates, and changing the traffic pattern by
simply changing MIB variables. An MIB browser/editor is useful in looking at the MIB
and making changes. With a simulator you get the flexibility to concentrate on the MIBs
of relevance in solving your specific problem.
A particular device can be simulated in any number of scenarios, just as in the real
world. For example, you can simulate a lightly loaded or overburdened router by
reducing or increasing input/output packet and error rates. You can make it a very faulty
device by having it generate a trap storm.
Command line interfaces are more proprietary even than enterprise-specific MIBs. A
Telnet recorder can generate an initial simulation from recording the command line
conversation, but this will need more customization before being useful. The reason is
that the semantic dependencies between different managed resources and
management interfaces cannot be deduced purely by recording. The goal of the
simulation is to have the management interfaces interact seamlessly. For example,
changing some parameters via Telnet should impact the correct MIB objects, and vice
A virtual lab overcomes the budget and resource constraints by allowing users to set up
extensive labs with software. Enterprises can provide each IT professional, developer,
tester, trainer and salesperson a private, virtual lab. The alleviation of the overhead and
administrative headaches of physical equipment and an increase in efficiency are the
end result. Therefore, the virtual lab’s applications within an enterprise are virtually
unlimited. Some of the most common applications include evaluation before
deployment, disaster simulation, operator training and infrastructure planning.
Generally, in companies with a physical lab, there are multiple teams with different
needs sharing the same lab. With a virtual lab, every member of the organization can
have his or her own network on his or her own machine all the time. This results in
significantly greater efficiencies within an enterprise.
On the other hand, just like a flight simulator cannot be used to fly passengers, a virtual
lab cannot be deployed in the production network. Also, any simulation is going to have
short-comings versus the real-thing: in this context this means that IOS commands may
be missing, or commands may behave and look slightly different. Creating a virtual
environment, with a physical lab or with a simulation is subject to a set of requirements.
The goal of any simulation is to come as close as possible to achieving those
requirements with minimal effort, whether it be for development, testing or training.
The implementation of a virtual lab within an enterprise — large or small — represents a
significant value proposition. The bottom line for an enterprise is simple: simulation tools
save both time and money by preventing network downtime.
Make vs. Buy
While creating a physical lab, you need to consider the following:
1. Capital Expenses – for network infrastructure, devices, firewall, cabling and other
test instruments like protocol analyzer, traffic generator, etc.
2. Lab space and fixture expense
3. Engineering labor cost – for setup and maintenance
4. Risks – of equipment, connector or cable failure, natural disasters, equipment
misuse and network downtime
5. Sharing – how many people or group will share the lab
6. Updates – for new devices, software versions, etc.
You can buy a simulator product, which will not have any major lab capital expense or
maintenance headaches. It is easy to share it or just keep it private, but the most
important benefit is if you make a mistake you can restart. If you need to run the same
tests frequently (regression tests), you don’t need to worry about setting up the devices
and connections. You can just save different network configurations and load them as
Of course, once you have a physical lab, you can then use it for multiple purposes. For
example, you can use the router to do the routing of your actual traffic, or use a PC for
your accounting application. If you are going to use devices purely for the testing,
evaluation or training purposes, then the virtual lab will be a solid alternative.
Pankaj Shah is founder and CEO of Gambit Communications Inc.), a leading provider of
network and SNMP simulation tools like MIMIC SNMP Simulator. He can be reached at
(603) 881-3500 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For additional information, visit
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Simulation-based exercises in HP’s Education Services’ curriculum helps enterprise
customers ensure hands-on proficiency of network administrators in ways that matter
by Tracy Avent and Paul Pappas
Within HP Education Services, IT service management for the enterprise gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so. The costs of inefficient processes or, worse, downtime and system unavailability are widely known to be staggering. With IT organizations so motivated, it is only natural that HP service management courses emphasize service delivery. But it also follows that IT organizations complete their learning practice, develop their management processes, and fully hone their skills.
The value of thorough training is clearly evident when students are back at their console and look at trouble tickets. If they’ve practiced handling real problems and gain proficiency at responding, then service level management for the enterprise gets a real boost in ways that were not otherwise possible. The difficulty faced by HP Education Services, however, is providing students with real life infrastructures and situations. Imagine the expense and complications of setting up practice networks to any realistic degree in order to test students with a wide variety of element configurations and other conditions that degrade service levels.
For this reason, simulations enabled by MIMIC Simulator technology from Gambit Communications have a key place in some of the curricula of HP’s Educational Services. The simulation exercises featured in several courses give students hands-on work that reinforces theoretical knowledge with experience and accelerates their proficiency.
HP Education Services uses MIMIC in a number of lab exercises, either
demonstrating HP NNM’s extended topology features, or enabling students to
practice and actually query emulated devices as though these existed on the
The Case for Classroom Simulations
"In IT management, the key to the change process is efficiency,” observes Reid Shay, consultant and author of the book, Impacting Business, a Simple Model of IT Management. "Learning from past experience and repeating what works make IT departments more efficient. If experience can be gained through simulation, without actually deploying hardware and software, so much the better. This is particularly valuable in preventing over-provisioning."
Take a close look at the role of simulations in training to enhance the every-day management of enterprise networks. A good case in point is HP Education Service’s course for HP OpenView Network Node Manager (NNM), a Level III course, which is designed to build network administrators’ mastery over the enterprise topology. It employs network simulations to illustrate the latest and most advanced features of NNM, including its Layer 2 Management and Event Correlation Services, and also discusses emerging technologies such as Active Problem Analyzer.
In this particular course the instructors use MIMIC in a number of lab exercises, either demonstrating the extended topology features, or enabling students to practice and actually query emulated devices as though these existed on the network. HP NNM’s extended topology feature set primarily focuses on vendor-specific connective device feature recognition and monitoring.
Table 1. Enterprise-level justification for expert network device simulation:
• Reduces hardware costs by a factor of 10 to 1,000
• Provides total cost savings of 92% over a physical lab, based on 100 devices
• Saves the time and costs of engineering labor
• Creates large-scale, multi-vendor labs that would otherwise not be possible
• Produces realistic disaster scenarios and develop successful responses
• Reproduces scenarios for regression testing, demos, and training
• Diminishes sales and marketing expenses to produce powerful product demos
• Determines an NMS application’s optimum performance before deploying
• Trains each new engineer on the appropriate NMS applications in private, virtual labs
Source: Gambit Communications, Inc.
Whether used to create a replica network environment for classroom training (or to have a realistic environment in the lab for testing product developments), the purchase cost for network devices is so expensive, and subsequent maintenance such a major undertaking, that it is normally not feasible to offer high-end courses without some strategy for emulations, simulations, or group-shared equipment.
HP Training an Exercise in Realism
In the NNM III course, HP Educational Services deploys MIMIC on the lab network to simulate vendor devices, allowing interaction with NNM Extended Topology discovery, mapping and event stream features. Students in the classroom labs know the bridges and router devices they are working with are simulated rather than actually present. The “live” MIMIC devices respond to ICMP and SNMP queries and send traps as though running on the network.
Students frequently ask questions about the MIMIC simulator, seeing its potential for their own staff training environments ⎯ and even installing it at their companies in order to improve their internal test bed processes. This understanding is important because most companies consider their production environments untouchable, i.e., they cannot afford to risk down time because of the likely financial impact.
Contrast the above “live” use of MIMIC in the Level III class with its use in the Level I class to provide static or offline training. In the Level I class students use a variety of Web-based Extended Topology mapping features and interact with icons derived from an up-loaded MIMIC-derived simulation database. Extended Topology is a major NNM new feature set, and MIMIC indirectly provides a means for HP Education to help students grow familiar with some of the NNM Extended Topology concepts.
The Fort Collins HP OpenView Business Unit’s lab used MIMIC to build a very portable and effective interactive demonstration of basic Extended Topology features. This demonstration figures prominently in some of the NNM I course labs, as though ET has already been configured. Instructors cover ET configuration topics in more detail in the level III course, where the live MIMIC server must be present. The different uses of MIMIC amount to a reasonably efficient and economical use of the classroom setup and equipment logistics resources.
For the NNM courses, a mix of beta site live data, test bed and HP lab equipment are used. The MIMIC solution includes ready-to-use simulations for many vendor devices. When developing the class, HP Education Services used MIMIC’s “record” capability to create additional device simulations so that customers could see these operate as well. Recording is the simplest way to create simulations, by representing “private enterprise” MIBs for an existing device on the network.
MIMIC Device Library: Instructors preparing classes for HP customers can select ready-
simulated devices from different manufacturers.
Once students realize what the simulation technology is accomplishing for their lab work, they are quite enthusiastic and confident about the skills they are developing. When students work through certain steps of the lab exercises, HP instructors can change simulations to represent some common problems with the device configuration by having the devices respond with improper information. It gives them the highly interactive means to do some troubleshooting of Extended Topology features, while also enabling instructors to focus their classes on how the features work when they are configured correctly rather than when they are misconfigured.
One can readily see how students can practice working, using simulations of standard MIB structures and even proprietary MIB structures and generation of traps. Prior to using MIMIC, the instruction on Extended Topology was limited to only demos and theoretical discussion.
Practice That Makes Perfect Everyday
Using MIMIC it is possible to simulate a variety of scenarios that students might shortly face back at their workplace. For example, an instructor can dynamically simulate for students a router, lightly loaded at first, becoming overloaded by changing the input/output packet error rates. In the NNM III course the instructor can misconfigure the device agent so students can experience some basic troubleshooting principles and see the effects of certain trap types. This can be accomplished either interactively or through pre-defined scripts.
HP’s NNM developer team uses MIMIC to build test beds and develop product
software in order to emulate certain kinds of connective devices and technology
because investments in the actual hardware equipping the classroom network
would be prohibitive.
The Level III training is equipped to teach and help students practice everything they’ll need to do to manage the enterprise network including:
• Activate and verify automatic zone configuration
• Configure protocols for extended topology discovery
• Update SNMP configuration
• Enable/start/manage/stop NNM extended topology discovery processes
• Check discovery status
As students work through their lab exercises they will see the MIMIC Virtual Lab GUI
showing a network of routers and switches, similar to this view.
Long-playing Record of Success
HP Education Services is also experimenting with much more sophisticated emulations that can be used for further enhancement of course lab opportunities. Already underway is a proof-of-concept for making training on NNM III and other HP management tools interactive over the Web, as a virtual classroom, including access to web-enabled lab equipment.
Perhaps it is not surprising that HP’s use of MIMIC extends back for several years. Several HP business units have been using MIMIC to test product technologies since shortly after MIMIC was first released. HP’s NNM developer team uses MIMIC to build test beds and develop product software (in order to emulate certain kinds of connective devices and technology because investments in the actual hardware for their development/test network would be prohibitive.)
This prior experience led to using MIMIC in the Level I and III NNM training. Typically, HP Education Services works closely with HP product business units because when the product comes rolling out, appropriate educational course materials are needed almost immediately. The group, in fact, worked in parallel with the HP NNM product development team and was using MIMIC early on to develop course materials, as well as to simplify product feature demos in the field. It was clear even then that MIMIC could be used to focus and enhance some of the customers’ educational experiences, adding levels of realism for training that was not previously possible.
About the Authors
Tracy Avent is an Education Consultant with Hewlett-Packard for 15 years, and providing specialized instruction for managing the HP OpenView solutions for 10 years.
Paul Pappas is VP of Business Development for Gambit Communications Inc., a leading provider of network and SNMP simulation tools including MIMIC SNMP Simulator. Paul can be reached at (603) 889-5100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information visit
Gambit’s MIMIC Simulator Helps Keep SITA Flying High: Simulation-based exercises prepare network staff for smooth handling of outages and disasters to assure business delivery.
by Bill Cicci and Pankaj Shah
When you're the largest provider of products and services that help air transport companies with everything from reservations to baggage tracking to in-flight communications, high availability of your production network is critical to support your operations. Having an available network impacts your business' ability to generate revenue. SITA realizes that disasters strike when you least expect them. This poses a particular challenge in the IT world. The inability of a company’s network to recover from a disaster quickly can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
“Network availability is vital for Enterprises business. This implies a need for thorough evaluation and testing of network applications and training of the staff. MIMIC Simulator represents a paradigm shift from using the traditional lab by providing a practical and cost-effective way to prepare for disasters.” David Seifert, Manager, SITA
Few companies properly plan for this, because it is difficult to envision and reproduce all the possible scenarios that can cause outages. When companies create a network availability and recovery plan, several objectives must be considered. They need to ensure that the IT staff:
1) is familiar with the network topology and configurations;
2) can use the network management applications effectively;
3) knows all the outage scenarios that could occur;
4) is trained with the appropriate responses; and,
5) tests and verifies all recovery procedures for effectiveness.
Having incorporated these objectives, how is it possible to evaluate the plan’s effectiveness? Traditionally two options have existed: practicing on the production network or in a physical test lab. Both options have downsides that cannot be ignored.
Practicing on the production network exposes the company to a potentially enormous risk. A training mishap could damage the network and create a real disaster. Therefore, this is not a viable option.
In comparison, a physical lab seems to be a better option, since the production network cannot be harmed. However, the physical lab is typically a scaled-down version of the production network and cannot produce the true scope of a disaster’s effects on the entire network. In a physical lab it is also difficult to create conditions similar to those that occur during a disaster.
Do what Airline Pilots do
Much like airline pilots use flight simulators to train for routine and disaster situations, MIMIC Simulator provides the same benefit to IT personnel. The well-being of a company’s entire infrastructure relies entirely on the IT staff. Like pilots, there is no room for panic when a disaster occurs. Having been trained using a “virtual lab”, they have the knowledge to handle any situation with confidence.
MIMIC’s recording of the network also serves as a record of all the installed managed devices. The IT staff simply makes scheduled recordings of the network, so that changes are easily tracked. This allows a company to recreate the network if physical damage occurs. Using a simulator with a topology tool, companies can also create a topology of their network and reproduce the network’s physical connections as they existed before the disaster.
SITA’s Simulation Lab is made up of actual physical infrastructure and other devices within budgetary limits. MIMIC is used to “fill in the gaps” to better emulate a fully populated environment without incurring substantial additional costs. With MIMIC providing the virtual devices simulation and testing results are less apt to be skewed.
MIMIC Virtual Lab is a powerful and effective tool for practicing disaster preparedness. It also produces a significant return on investment in the following ways. First, companies can simulate many more devices compare to a physical lab. Secondly, and most importantly, a well trained and well prepared IT staff can recover from any disaster in a timely manner. This limits network downtime and in turn limits revenue loss. Thirdly, it avoids the headaches of setting up, maintaining and sharing a physical lab.
Everyone hopes that a disaster never occurs in his or her company, but if it does, better policies will be in place to cope with it.
Other Applications of a Virtual Lab
By implementing a virtual lab using MIMIC, IT professionals can easily create environments and conditions that would otherwise be impossible. MIMIC significantly decreases the total cost of ownership of a lab, since it eliminates the need to buy costly devices. The virtual lab’s applications within an enterprise are virtually unlimited. Therefore, enterprises will enjoy a more productive IT staff and a more effective and reliable implementation of NMS applications and policy scripts.
“For enterprise users seeking economies in the evaluation, introduction and enhancement of new SNMP management products - MIMIC should be particularly worthwhile. “ Dennis Drogseth, Enterprise Management Associates
Evaluation before deployment: Evaluating network management applications – from layered applications to value-added applications – poses a challenge for most enterprises. MIMIC’s recording and simulation capability changes all that. It can record the enterprise’s network, then use that recording as input for a simulation of the network. Management applications can then be run against this “virtual network” – a network that is identical to the enterprise’s production network. The IT staff is then free to evaluate all NMS applications in the same environment. They can run tests such as disabling devices and/or interfaces, generating a trap storm to see how the management application reacts. They are also free to experiment with additions and changes to the network to test future scenarios without worrying about the impact to the production network.
Using the applications in their duplicated network environment can give enterprises an accurate appraisal of the management software. The IT staffs then has the assurance that the software will perform to specifications. There is no longer any guess work involved trying to determine whether or not an application will scale to meet their current and future needs.
SITA will also use MIMIC to help in the evaluation of new SNMP applications and "plug-ins" to HPOV.
Operator training: Providing operator training for new management applications poses a challenge forchallenge for all companies. Everyone understands the benefits of operator training in allowing employees to perform their jobs with greater success. When new management software or networking devices are introduced, the operator-training problem is compounded. Company personnel need to get up to speed quickly in order to perform their jobs with the new product.
The virtual lab networks can become as extensive and complex, as the trainer would like, which allows them to teach fully the capabilities of the element manager or network management application. Students get the opportunity to practice “real world” scenarios – both positive and negative – which would be impossible with a physical network. By using a virtual lab the operators can receive higher quality training. The training lab is not limited to a network made up of only a few devices. It can be as complex as the production network. In addition to classroom training, a virtual lab lends itself to automated training so students can learn independently of structured classes. The students then have flexibility in their schedules.
Overall, with its ability to hold down hardware expenses, to enable training to be scheduled before devices are even on the shelves, and to reduce training lab administration, a virtual lab provides the solution for today’s operator training program.
SITA would like to see MIMIC used in their Training Department for training Site Administrators and NOC personnel when it comes to the use of HPOV and the SITA specific "enhancements".
Infrastructure planning: For IT professionals, infrastructure planning represents a very difficult task. It is practically impossible to determine in a reliable manner a management software’s capacity for future growth. Many IT professionals must rely on the claims of management application about their products. Alternatively, administrators can add a series of devices to their network in order to ensure that their NMS application can adequately manage a larger number of heterogeneous devices. In many cases doing so is not practical due to financial and resource constraints. However, the implementation of a virtual lab provides IT professionals with an environment where they can truly evaluate their management applications’ ability to manage the network infrastructure as it expands.
In addition, tests can be performed in order to see if this configuration would cause stress in other areas of the network or on certain other devices or applications. Once testing has been performed within the virtual lab environment, IT professionals can confidently report to management whether or not the current network will be viable well into the future. If not, he or she will be able to suggest the specific measures that should be taken in order to address the issue.
About the Authors
Bill Cicci is a Network Solutions Engineer at SITA. He works on engineering of Systems and Network Management solutions. SITA is the world's leading provider of global Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) solutions to the air transport and related industries.
Pankaj Shah is the CEO and co-founder of Gambit Communications, Inc. In order to learn more about MIMIC Simulator and how to create a “virtual lab”, Pankaj can be reached at (603) 889-5100 or by email at email@example.com. For additional information visit
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
MIMIC Virtual Lab CCNA comes in two versions: MIMIC Virtual Lab CCNA and
MIMIC Virtual Lab CCNA Plus.
The features below apply to both the versions.
MIMIC Virtual Lab is for beginners interested in familiarizing themselves with the complex environment and for intermediate or expert users looking to sharpen their skills and move to a higher level. It provides a safe environment to practice. You don't have to worry about bringing down the equipment/network and affecting other users.
MIMIC gives Network Engineers the ability to practice for CCNA and other certifications instead of just reading instructions. It enables Training organizations to supply a Virtual lab to students with the classroom training or e-learning courses. Students can interact with Routers and Switches, just like with real devices.
Interact with the routers and switches, just like real devices:
Users can Telnet in to any of these devices as if they are connecting to real devices. You can open as many Telnet connections as the device supports. Users can also connect to it using a Console connection. It fully supports Cisco IOS® software.
Lab Exercises and Tutorials
The lab includes many Exercises and Tutorials. This shows some samples:
MIMIC Virtual Lab CCNA Plus
This is a networked version of MIMIC Virtual Lab CCNA. It includes all of the above features and more:
1. Multiple Agents in One Box
- Simulate up to 20,000 SNMP agent instances on one computer.
- Each agent instance has its own IP (or IPv6) addresses on any subnet.
- Each SNMPv1 agent has independent read and write SNMP community strings.
- Each SNMPv3 agent has independent USM and VACM parameters.
- Each agent instance has its own notion of uptime, eg. one can be running for 100 days, while another has just started.
- Select any subset of supported MIBs for each agent instance.
- Use any of the 2000+ pre-compiled MIBs for devices from the leading networking companies.
- Run any mix of the supplied actual device simulations from the device library, among them are Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, Marconi, Alcatel, 3Com and many more.
- Build your own SNMP simulation.
- Configure each agent instance individually or collectively.
- Control each MIB object instance of each agent instance independently or as relationships.
- Add any MIB to the SNMP simulation by compiling it with the MIMIC Compiler
- Create basic simulations of actual devices with the MIMIC Recorder
- Extend the simulation with standard scripting languages.
- Customize the simulations with a powerful simulation language.
- Use the MIB browser to manipulate each MIB object simulation independently at run-time.
- Configure the simulation via batch scripts for automated regression testing or hands-off product demonstration.
- Pause simulations to investigate a particular problem, and resume at any point in time.
- Configure arrival rate, cutoff time, variable values, etc. on a per trap basis in real-time and generate trap storms.
- Take snapshots with the Trap Wizard to replicate exact trap sequences.
- Take snapshots of real world scenarios and simulate them almost immediately.
- Discover large networks with Discovery Wizard.
- Create dynamic simulations over time with Snapshot Wizard.
MIMIC Simulator offers a unique and an inexpensive way to create a real world lab environment. It provides an interactive hands-on lab for quality assurance, development, marketing, sales, evaluation, deployment and training of enterprise management applications. It creates a customizable virtual environment populated with devices like routers, hubs, switches, probes, cable modems and workstations.
- Development and Testing: Management application developers can implement their products quickly and test reliably.
- Evaluation: Enterprises can evaluate the suitability of applications with anticipated failure and growth scenarios, or qualify purchases before deployment.
- Trade Shows: Marketing can setup powerful "live" demonstrations at trade shows.
- Sales Demos: Sales can tailor presentations to the individual customer's environment.
- Training Environments: Realistic training scenarios can explore all possible cases. Training environment can be portable rather than based on the classroom.
MIMIC® SNMP Agent SimulatorMIMIC SNMP Agent Simulator creates a network of up to 20,000 SNMP-manageable devices per 64-bit Intel-based PC (Itanium), AMD-based PC (AMD64) or Sun Sparc, or 10,000 per 32-bit Intel-based PC (x86), AMD-based PC (E86) or Sun Sparc. With support for any SNMP-based device you can run a large variety of device configurations with your SNMP management application.
MIMIC simulated devices respond to SNMPv1, SNMPv2C and SNMPv3 queries on any of its configured IP (or IPv6) addresses. It appears to the SNMP Network Management Application as if it is talking to actual devices. Each device has its own IP addresses, independent read and write SNMPv1 community strings or SNMPv3 USM and VACM parameters, and notion of uptime. Devices can be configured at run-time, both on an individual and collective basis.
MIMIC ships with a large number of pre-compiled MIBs, networks and devices from the leading networking companies. The MIMIC Compiler can compile any SMI-compliant MIB to extend your set of devices.
A suite of predefined scenarios is provided to investigate all the possibilities you can face in your mission-critical environment. For example, realistic behavior can be modeled for a range of traffic conditions over a shorter period of time. Or, a constant simulation can be used for automated regression testing.
The MIMIC Recorder can be used to import data from real-world devices to easily create realistic, starting simulations. A simulation language can be used to create custom simulations.