Part 2 of the SCALABLE Networks Network Simulation blog series examines “What is Network Simulation” and explores the necessary requirements for operators.

Network simulation provides tools to analyze the application, network, or device performance: real-time visualization and statistics display while the simulation takes place and post-simulation analysis of statistical data is collected during the simulation (for example, the number of calls dropped and the average end-to-end latency and throughput of text/video data). Such analyses may validate requirements or help identify potential problems and subsequently evaluate the effectiveness of alternative solutions.

Network simulation can also be used as a testbed by application developers. The simulator can interface with the application being tested while running on external devices. The application’s performance can be easily analyzed under different operational conditions by modifying the network model to represent the various conditions. In many cases, running comprehensive experiments to thoroughly test the application using live equipment can be very difficult and costly. For example, testing an SA application over a network consisting of thousands of ground and air-based entities as well as satellites, under different weather conditions, will be very difficult using live equipment, but can be done in a fast, cost-effective and convenient way using a simulation testbed.

In network simulation, a software replica of the network, or ‘network model’, is used to analyze how different components of the network (network devices such as routers and access points, smart phones, radios, satellites, wireless channels, etc.) interact to provide end-to-end delivery of traffic from the supported applications.  For instance, the network model of a Wi-Fi network will replicate the networked environment, including all hardware. It simulates the traffic movements through the network and interfaces with all components as well as mobility, terrain, and interference.  For a network simulation tool to be of practical use to network operators, planners, designers, testers and analysts, it must satisfy requirements of fidelity, scalability, and speed.

Follow the Scalable Tech Talk Blog Series which will continue to explore the benefits and functionality of network simulation.