Network Emulation – hardware or freeware?

5 mins read

A common question is what are the advantages of a hardware network emulator (which costs money) compared to some of the freeware network emulation options that are available. On the face of it not paying for something seems altogether more attractive than paying for it. However the equation is far from that simple.

On the one hand there is the economic argument, but scratch beneath the surface and very quickly it becomes clear that “free” never actually comes without cost. Freeware still needs hardware to run on. It may not be a dedicated piece of hardware but it still costs money, and will require a minimum spec. More important however is the hidden cost of time and resource. Hardware emulators typically have highly intuitive GUIs designed to simplify the process of running tests and reducing the time to value. Freeware inevitably takes more time to configure, and given its relative inaccuracy more time is spent troubleshooting dubious outputs. And who do you turn to when things go wrong? There is no dedicated support team to contact when help is required when using freeware. Helpdesks are invaluable in providing expertise when that time comes.

Secondly there is the technological argument. Many network emulation use cases require very high accuracy while others can be a little more tolerant. In any case an absolute given is that your testing is repeatable. Hardware network emulators provide a stable, repeatable platform, and most data sheets will publish the degree of accuracy of the platform, allowing engineers to account for any inaccuracy. This means that testing is repeatable within an understood degree of accuracy. From one test to the next there may be significant variation when using freeware. Since the underlying hardware is not dedicated no one can be sure what background processes may be consuming resources which impact on the outputs of the test.

Calnex Solutions have a range of network emulators that answer the above requirements. A more detailed view of information set out in this article can be found out below.

Related product: Calnex SNE