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4 Steps to Convert Your Laptop into a Network Testbed


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You can test your virtual routers, virtual machines or virtualized network functions (NFV) right from your desktop or laptop with control and agility.

Are you a developer writing software for virtual routers or NFV? Do you often have to wait in queue to get access to test beds? How much time would you save, if you could test code on your laptop?

Virtual test tools such as Spirent TestCenter Virtual let you run tests right on your computer. You can copy virtual images, create new virtual machines (VMs), and start testing them right away.

What do you need to test on your laptop?

  1. Laptop: Start with a laptop with a multicore processor. It is good to have at least 4GB of RAM and at least 20 GB of free space to store the VM images. You will need to have Windows Operating system to run the Spirent GUI. You can save disk space by selecting “thin provisioning” when you create the virtual disks.

  2. A Type II hypervisor: Install Oracle VirtualBox or VMware Workstation which are Type II hypervisors that can run on top of your laptop operating system. Make sure your device under test (DUT) can run on the hypervisor of your choice. A testing tool like Spirent TestCenter Virtual can run all the protocols that you could in the big hardware chassis.

  3. Traffic generation and analysis tools: Download a virtual testing solution that covers layer 2-3 as well as layer 4-7. We recommend Spirent TestCenter Virtual (for layer2-3), Spirent Avalanche Virtual

    (for layer 4-7) and install these VMs in your hypervisor. These are the VMs that will generate the traffic and analyze it. You can assign just one core to the Spirent VM. You will also need the Spirent GUI application on your laptop. This is a Windows application and not a VM.

  4. Licenses: You can use your corporate license server by connecting to it. Alternatively, you can install the licenses on your laptop, and then you can continue to test even offline.

I run tests on my Windows7 laptop which has i7 processor and 4 GB of RAM. My hypervisor is VirtualBox and I allocate one core and connect them through “IntNet“ vSwitch. IntNet stands for “Internal Network”, is a vSwitch that connects only hosts on the VirtualBox. There is no default subnet assigned to this domain by Virtualbox, and that gives me flexibility on my traffic configuration.

Give this scenario a try and let me know what you think.

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Pratap Ramamurthy
Pratap Ramamurthy

Pratap is technical marketing engineer at Spirent Communications, with more than 10 years of experience in various networking technologies. He is focused on building solutions to test virtual networks. Prior to Spirent, Pratap was at Cisco, where he helped built the core networking components in the successful UCS. Cisco UCS now ranks in the top #3 in terms of market share of blade servers. Pratap has published research papers on web-server testing technology, Wi-Fi, Optics and developed tools to test network security tools.