The EXata communications simulation platform (EXata) is a network emulator that lets you evaluate on-the-move communication networks faster and with more realism than any other tool. It uses a software virtual network (SVN) to digitally represent the entire network, the various protocol layers, antennas, and devices. The system can interoperate, at one or more protocol layers, with real radios and devices to provide hardware-in-the-loop capabilities. EXata can also be connected to systems with real applications, which run on the SVN just as they would run on real networks.
Emulation and Simulation
A network emulator "mimics" the functions of a real network so that it appears, interacts, and behaves like the real network. The emulator provides an exact, high quality, reproduction of external behavior so that the emulated system is indistinguishable from the real system. An emulator provides a cost-effective method of evaluating new network technologies before actual systems or networks are built.
A network simulator duplicates the behavior of a real network, but cannot interact with real networks. A simulator uses lower quality reproduction or abstraction of the real system and focuses on simply replicating the real network’s behavior. A network simulation is a cost-effective method for developing the early stages of network-centric systems. Users can evaluate the basic behavior of a network and test combinations of network features that are likely to work.
Network emulation helps in developing a net-centric system by providing an environment in which design decisions can be easily changed and their impact evaluated. Customers of the net-centric system can use the emulated network and see how their applications (such as VoIP, situational awareness, sensor data, and streaming video) will perform when the real system is built. The emulated network can also be integrated with legacy systems to test interoperability and be used to train users on the next generation networks. By evaluating what works best early in the design cycle, the cost of modifying a system can be greatly reduced. This also sets realistic expectations of what the communications network will deliver, i.e., it provides predictability.
EXata is a comprehensive suite of tools for emulating large wired and wireless networks. It uses simulation and emulation to predict the behavior and performance of networks to improve their design, operation, and management. EXata SVN provides a cost-effective and easy-to-use alternative to physical testbeds that typically have high equipment costs, complex setup requirements and limited scalability.
EXata enables users to:
- Develop emulation or simulation models for new networking technologies
- Design new network technologies
- Design new communications protocol models using the OSI-style architecture of EXata protocol stack
- Design wireless networks of real world size (EXata can be run on multi-core processor computers to evaluate large wireless networks of 100s and 1000s of devices)
- Perform what-if analyses: Analyze the performance of networks and perform “what-if” analyses to optimize them. You can design a network, and then run batch experiments to test network performance when parameters, such as routing protocols, timers, and transmission power, are varied.
- Connect real networks, applications, and devices with EXata emulated network
- See real applications run on emulated networks: EXata can run real applications, such as VoIP, Internet browsers, and streaming video, on emulated networks as if they are running on real networks
- Train with the network before it is ready to be deployed: EXata makes it possible to conduct training and operations with next-generation tactical networks and devices that are still being designed
- Analyze and manage EXata virtual networks with popular, industry-standard, tools
- Snoop on packets: EXata has a packet sniffer interface that enables third-party tools like Wireshark and Microsoft Network Monitor to snoop/capture traffic from any device in EXata and analyze it. This lets you debug and troubleshoot network problems.
- Manage an emulated network: EXata comes with a SNMP Agent, which enables you to use standard SNMP managers to view, monitor and control emulated networks in EXata just like managing real networks.
Creating a scenario can be divided into several steps focusing on different aspects. The general approach is to first configure the general properties which are applicable to the whole scenario. Next, specify the network topology by creating subnets, placing nodes, and defining node mobility. Then you configure the protocol stack for individual nodes or groups of nodes as necessary. The last step is to configure parameters for collecting simulation results and controlling runtime performance.