Riverbed Technology loads up their Steelhead® product line using Load DynamiX

Summary

Riverbed®, a provider of WAN optimization solutions, is able to more effectively test CIFS scalability on their Steelhead solutions using Load DynamiX.  Before Load DynamiX, extreme-scale testing was resource and time intensive using in-house test tools.

About Riverbed Technology

Challenges for QA

  • In-house test tool limitations. Protocol complexity drains resources.
  • Missing key CIFS/SMB load testing capabilities. Limited by unwieldy nature of CIFS.
  • Need for many 1000s of simultaneous connections. Lacking scalability in homegrown tools required by product.

Changes with Load DynamiX

  • Complex user scenarios. Robust tools that handle extreme complexity without breaking.
  • Tools written specifically to handle advanced CIFS testing. Flexible configuration of complex user scenarios.
  • Easy scale-up to massive numbers of connections. Designed to scale past max usage.

Riverbed is the IT performance company for networks, applications, and storage, providing comprehensive WAN optimization solutions. Riverbed products address a host of performance problems that customers experience across a variety of scenarios. An award-winning line of WAN optimization solutions gives businesses an order-of-magnitude increase in the performance and value of their existing IT infrastructure and mission-critical applications.

The applications Riverbed accelerates include file sharing, email, backup, document management systems, IT tools, ERP, and CRM. At the heart of Riverbed’s business is the Steelhead product line. Steelhead speeds application performance and data transfer over the WAN, overcoming both bandwidth and latency problems to deliver the highest performance available on the market today. Steelhead products go beyond simply offering WAN optimization to help make your IT infrastructure run faster, better, and more securely — they operate in the data center, at a branch office, in a worker’s laptop, and in public and private clouds

Riverbed Test Environment

The QA environment at Riverbed that’s a match for Load DynamiX is the Steelhead appliance testing lab. Riverbed’s senior QA manager is Ken Sarno who manages a team of 22-23 engineers — including CIFS protocol experts. Ken and the QA group execute load and performance tests using some off-the-shelf tools such as NetBench. But the bulk of testing is accomplished using in-house tools written by the Riverbed team. Their hardware setup is straightforward with all devices on the same switch and little pressure on the network.The challenges arise when the QA team needs to give the most scalable of Riverbed’s products a full workout.

“Load DynamiX proved to be a great company to work with. They were responsive and they listened — making fixes and getting their system to do just what we wanted. I like to work with smart teams doing clever things.”
– Michael Michon, Director of Software QA Engineering, Riverbed Technology

Today, Riverbed products have developed past the point of testing with in-house tools. The Steelhead 7050 is designed for the data center and can handle up to 100,000 concurrent TCP connections. This is a point at which Riverbed homegrown tools become cumbersome and require many hardware resources. Ken was specifically interested in assessing the Steelhead capacity to accelerate file sharing, which means thorough CIFS testing. CIFS is complex, requiring a test tool with complete implementation of the protocol and flexible configuration options. Configuring such a setup can be challenging, and Ken is without good tools for generating that many simultaneous connections.

Enter Load DynamiX

The Riverbed team periodically scouts for test tools out in the marketplace. Discovering that Load DynamiX had CIFS expertise in particular, Riverbed acquired a Load DynamiX product for evaluation. Michael Michon, Director of Software QA Engineering at Riverbed, found Load DynamiX as a company to be responsive beyond the norm in the industry, and was impressed with their willingness to enhance the product to meet Riverbed’s specific needs. Ken Sarno says that the Load DynamiX team was quick to address issues and that fix turnaround was very good. He observed that Load DynamiX is very committed to supporting their customers.

About the Load DynamiX 1G Series

“We can now run tests that were very hard to do before. We couldn’t test 10,000 CIFS connections quickly using our in-house tools. Now we can.”
– Ken Sarno, Senior Manager, QA, Riverbed Technology

A high-performance load-generating system, the Load DynamiX 1G series is designed for comprehensive functional and performance testing of IP storage. More than a load generator, the system provides protocol-level control and semantic definition that enables the broadest possible range of test cases. The product features 8 singly configurable 1GE ports, each capable of a million TCP connections. It also has a 1GE management port and supports multiple authentication types, originates NFS, CIFS, iSCSI, and HTTP traffic, and easily handles multiple scenarios with varying lists of commands—all running concurrently. Load DynamiX’s product suite is the storage industry’s elite testing tool due to its storage-specific features, high-volume traffic handling, customer-centric graphic interface, and an automation framework.

Test Development Environment

The Load DynamiX  1G series includes a graphical application, the Test Development Environment, that provides flexible, granular configuration options and test results analysis. Testers can now find problems, modify parameters, and quickly see results using the Load DynamiX interface. Problem isolation is fast and accurate, leading to much-appreciated efficiency in working with development engineers.

The Results

Riverbed uses Load DynamiX to simulate extreme loads on their Steelhead systems, working in the TDE to set up testing scenarios. For Riverbed, the Load DynamiX product is a complement to their other test tools, greatly extending their capabilities. Ken can now put the 7050 through its paces, getting a clear picture of exactly what happens in a fully scaled-up, real world customer environment. As well, the product plays a part in Ken’s regression testing. The bottom line? Riverbed uses Load DynamiX to perform tests much more easily, faster, and with fewer hardware resources than before.