Test Agents

The measurement points in Netrounds are called Test Agents. These consist of software that is used for all tests and monitoring, and they are frequently placed inside your network. A Test Agent can generate, receive, and analyze real network traffic.

Test Agents can be packaged and delivered by Netrounds in a number of ways. The following terms are used:

  • Preinstalled Test Agent: Hardware delivered from Netrounds with preinstalled Test Agent software.
  • Software Test Agent: Test Agent software downloaded by the customer and installed on customer-provided x86 hardware.
  • Virtual Test Agent: Test Agent software downloaded by the customer and run as a Virtual Machine (VM) on a hypervisor.
  • Test Agent Lite: Test Agent software downloaded by the customer and installed
    • as an application on a Windows/Linux computer (PC Test Agent), or
    • as an application on top of OpenWrt, installed on a SoC device (Embedded Test Agent).
  • Browser Test Agent: Test Agent software running in a web browser during execution of a network performance test.

Preinstalled, software, and virtual Test Agents are all Test Agent Appliances.

Note on older naming: Test Agents Lite were previously referred to as "Agents", while Test Agent Appliances were called "Probes".

The table below gives an overview of the capabilities of Test Agents. An asterisk (*) after a checkmark means that a limited feature set is supported, specifically: stateful TCP throughput, UDP (packet delay variation, packet loss), and multicast-based IPTV/MPEG.

Using preinstalled Test Agents

A preinstalled Test Agent is simply plugged physically into your network and managed from the Netrounds Control Center.

Using software Test Agents

Since a Netrounds software Test Agent has low-level access to the hardware devices, you get the best possible measurement accuracy and maximum performance, with no unnecessary applications running at the same time.

The number of test interfaces and the link performance depend on which PC hardware and attached network interface cards you use. With multiple network interface cards you can handle more flexible deployments, and with more powerful hardware you get higher link performance.

There are two main options for running the software Test Agent: USB and HDD. Use USB to temporarily transform your PC into a professional measurement device. Use HDD to build a permanent measurement device using your PC hardware.

The PC hardware used will have an impact on performance. It is recommended that your hardware be at least on a par with that of Netrounds preinstalled Test Agents.

Using virtual Test Agents

Netrounds Test Agent software can also be installed in virtual environments, such as VMware, Hyper-V, and OpenStack. In this way a Test Agent can be used as a virtual network function (VNF) in ETSI NFV MANO (Network Function Virtualization Management & Orchestration).

Virtual Test Agents can be configured using cloud-init, which means they can be automatically registered with the Netrounds Control Center.

The hardware used will have an impact on performance. It is recommended that your hardware be at least on a par with that of Netrounds preinstalled Test Agents.

Using PC Test Agents

A PC Test Agent is a Test Agent Lite application that runs on top of a Windows/Linux computer. It supports TCP and UDP traffic generation as well as IPTV/MPEG, while other tests are not supported. PC Test Agents are compatible with and can exchange TCP/UDP traffic with other Test Agents.

The performance of a PC Test Agent depends on the host computer on which it is installed. Since a Test Agent Lite cannot control other processes in the same way as "regular" Test Agents, the PC Test Agent has somewhat lower accuracy than these. Even so, the performance is normally very good, and since PC Test Agents can be installed on ordinary PCs they offer a highly scalable solution with valuable troubleshooting capabilities. Like other Test Agents, PC Test Agents are started through the Netrounds web interface.

Using embedded Test Agents

An embedded Test Agent is a Test Agent Lite application run on top of OpenWrt and typically installed on a SoC (system-on-chip) device.

Using browser Test Agents

A browser Test Agent runs in a web browser whenever a network performance test such as Speedtest is executed. This Test Agent software is compatible with any web browser.

Further reading

See the Netrounds Test Agents data sheet, found here.

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