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How to anticipate errors caused by degraded networks

Guest blog: Nick Gardener from Itrinegy

Degraded Networks – 

When developing a new product, application, or service, organisations will often conduct their QA tests within lab environments that have excellent network conditions. QA leads, Network leads and Technical Directors will organise tests over the best networks they can source to create a controlled QA environment free of the unknown variables that poor connectivity can induce, for a clearer understanding of how their product will behave for the end-user under different circumstances.

But what if the networks themselves are the cause for product-breaking issues?

In nearly every industry, despite the ground-breaking steps in network connectivity such as 5G, SD-WAN, and other new developments, most products will be placed into operational environments with sub-optimal network conditions. Hospital networks can be congested and compartmentalised; Defence networks are often international, and have to operate over multiple satellite hops; Broadcasters will have to ensure quality footage over satellites, CDNs, and to a user’s potentially degraded home networks; the list goes on.

Subsequently, if a product has never experienced the degraded conditions it will have to endure once being used by a customer, the shock of these conditions often cause products to fail.

Why do these things happen?

The main reason why these issues weren’t addressed within the initial QA stages was initially due to a lack of knowledge- many companies and testers simply didn’t think to test how products would react to impairments such as latency bursts, packet loss, or jitter before launch. Many of these organisations would then spend copious amounts of time fixing their products, relationships, and reputations after their product had failed in a customer’s environment. Clearly, these results were unacceptable for any organisation, big or small, and over the last few years, the vast majority of industries have taken massive strides to mature their approach towards developing network-robust products.

Despite this, network-induced errors still haunt product developers to this day; this is due to the difficulty in provoking and re-creating any errors that stem from real world network infrastructure or network connectivity issues. The majority of companies within the UK simply don’t have the means to create degraded network conditions within a controlled environment, or the time to field-test their product in every environment it could be placed into. Manually ‘creating’ a network with controllable quality is a very difficult task, whilst field- trialling their products is very expensive and can be very time consuming, and can still leave blind spots if their ‘test networks’ aren’t performing poorly on the days that the tests are due to take place.

However, the consequences of a product failing post-launch are severe, and known by anyone involved with product development or product sales, and as such simply accepting the risks networks pose to a product simply isn’t an option.

Subsequently, pre-launch testing with degraded network conditions must be enhanced further if all UK industries are to truly overcome the threats that networks can pose to their products, and ultimately provide market-leading products that can be deployed in any topography, in any nation, with no unexpected consequences.

Creating Live Models of Entire Network Infrastructures – A ?

This is where iTrinegy, UK Based software company and long-time members of techUK, are extremely well positioned to help.

Recognising this need within the UK tech industry, iTrinegy have produced an accurate, reliable, and repeatable test environment capable of modelling any Network Topology that you may need your product to successfully interact with. iTrinegy’s Software Defined Test Networks can model any network pathway used in conventional industries today, including 5G, 4G, Wifi, WAN and Satellite networks with total control of impairments and degradation such as latency, packet errors, and more. The SDTN can support multiple tests being performed simultaneously, can emulate dynamic network configurations that change in real time, and can capture all the test data needed to trace the roots of any network-induced errors a product may experience before it ever impacts the customer’s experience.

What this means for the user is that they can test their product at all stages of development against any network that it may have to experience, obtaining quick and clear test results that help remove errors, without large costs and time constraints that will negatively impact the product’s timeline. iTrinegy SDTNs help ensure that you produce a robust, reliable product that has been optimized for any topology, location, or network conditions that they may experience once deployed into a live environment.

Want to know how iTrinegy’s tried and tested technology has been implemented into your sector? Check out our wide range of case studies, and see how your products can be made network-ready with the Software Defined Test Network.


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