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eXtremeDB and Spirent TestCenter Redefine Scalability

June 24, 2009 — When database management system (DBMS) vendors talk about scalability, they’re usually referring to database size, or number of queries handled. But the database architecture in Spirent TestCenter, Spirent Communications’ award-winning platform for testing network devices and services, scales massively in a different way. It is the sheer quantity of individual database instances in some installations that dwarfs typical DBMS deployments.

Spirent TestCenter incorporates the eXtremeDB™ embedded database from McObject® to capture live network traffic data for testing. To do this, Spirent TestCenter positions eXtremeDB at each of the device’s ports to emulate network traffic flows. One port can generate packet traffic equal to using 32,000 routers, servers, gateways or other devices in a “real” network.

For large scale testing, Spirent TestCenter offers as many as 720 ports on a single rack – each with its own processor, Linux operating system, and eXtremeDB in-memory database – in a single Spirent TestCenter installation.

Replicated or clustered database installations typically deploy a handful or even dozens of nodes. Deploying 700+ database instances is exceptional. Spirent credits the superior performance, productivity and analytical intelligence of its innovative test architecture, in part, to this highly distributed use of eXtremeDB.

The current eXtremeDB-based design captures, stores and analyzes data locally, using the distributed databases, then transfers the results of this number-crunching to a main eXtremeDB instance embedded in control system software on the tester’s PC. With this approach, the maximum amount of data is analyzed, while messaging traffic is minimized, resulting in highly efficient processing.

“The ability to capture the widest possible range of useful data is central to Spirent TestCenter’s Intelligent Results™ capability for quick fault identification, isolation and analysis, which aims to anticipate the types of analysis that many customers seek, and build them into the product,” said Tom McBeath, chief technology officer, Spirent Communications. “eXtremeDB helps us to deliver meaningful results rather than just raw numbers.”

To query the distributed databases, the control system application uses eXtremeSQL, McObject’s implementation of the open, industry-standard SQL interface. Use of eXtremeSQL—which also supports the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard—simplifies data-sharing between the eXtremeDB embedded database in the control software and external applications such as other relational DBMSs.

For the real-time functions that capture and analyze network traffic data, eXtremeDB’s native API, along with the database’s streamlined design and in-memory data storage, deliver the needed speed. Before moving to the architecture using distributed databases, Spirent evaluated eXtremeDB against three other in-memory databases. “It was by far the fastest database we could find. It was more than twice as fast as the second place database,” McBeath said.

eXtremeDB’s small footprint – as low as 100K code size – helps rein in Spirent TestCenter’s manufacturing cost. Typically, device-makers seek a DBMS that uses as little RAM as possible, to reduce the cost of memory. This obviously becomes a greater concern when a device uses up to 1,500 databases, McBeath noted.

About Spirent Communications

Spirent Communications (www.spirent.com) is a global provider of integrated performance analysis and service assurance systems that enable the development and deployment of next-generation networking technology such as Internet telephony, broadband services, 3G wireless, global navigation satellite systems, and network security equipment. Spirent Communications’ solutions are used by more than 1,700 customers in 30 countries, including the world’s largest equipment manufacturers, service providers, enterprises and governments. Based in Sunnyvale, CA, Spirent Communications has 1,500 employees worldwide. For more information visit www.spirent.com.

About McObject

Founded by embedded database and real-time systems experts, McObject offers proven data management technology that makes applications and devices smarter, more reliable and more cost-effective to develop and maintain. McObject counts among its customers industry leaders such as Chrysler, Maximizer Software, Siemens, Phillips, EADS, JVC, Tyco Thermal Controls, F5 Networks, DIRECTV, CA, Motorola and Boeing. McObject, based in Issaquah, WA, is committed to providing innovative technology and first-rate services to customers and partners. The company can be reached at +1-425-888-8505, or visit www.mcobject.com.

McObject and eXtremeDB are trademarks or registered trademarks of McObject LLC. All other company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.