Tech Briefs

Stress Testing of Data-Communication Networks

NetStress is a computer program that stress-tests a data-communication network and components thereof. NetStress comprises two components running, respectively, in a transmitting system and a receiving system connected to a network under test. The novelty of the program is that is has the capability to generate/receive varied network loading traffic profiles, which prior known programs were incapable of producing (i.e., various packet sizes and various packet rates all combined to make a pseudo-random traffic pattern). The transmitting-system component generates increasingly stressful data traffic for transmission via the network. The receiving- system component analyzes the resulting traffic arriving in the receiving system, generating such statistics as the number of data packets successfully received, the number of dropped packets, and the number of packets received out of order. The packet sizes must be configured before the transmitting-system component is started, but the packet frequencies, numbers of packets in bursts, and burst times can be configured during execution. Typically, a test begins with transmission of data at low sustained rates. Then the sustained rates are increased and burst rates are modified while monitoring to determine whether the receiving-system component reports any losses. When significant losses are reported, the user seeks to determine whether a malfunction or deficiency has been found or normal network saturation has been attained. NetStress was written for execution in the VxWorks real-time operating system, but could easily be ported to other operating systems. This program was written by Kurt Leucht and Guy Bedette of Kennedy Space Center. For further information, contact the Kennedy Innovative Partnerships Office at (321) 861-7158. KSC-12589