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What is Network Simulation

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posted Nov 2, 2018 by Arunkumaarts

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Network simulation or emulation?
In regard to network testing,  the terms emulation and simulation are often used interchangeably. In most cases, either term will generally get the point across, but there’s a big difference between a network emulator and network simulator, both practically and semantically. As a network engineer, an improperly configured application can cost a whole lot of time and money down the line. The best way to try and prevent these unfortunate accidents is by conducting thorough and efficient testing on a routine basis. Whether designing a network, migrating to the cloud, or adding a new device to the rack, every step within the application  deployment life cycle should be validated with accurate testing.

Regarding network testing, the terms emulation and simulation are often used interchangeably. In most cases, either term will generally get the point across, but there’s a big difference between a network emulator and network simulator, both practically and semantically.

A simulator can perform tasks in abstract to demonstrate the behavior of a network and its components, while an emulator can copy the behavior of a network to functionally replace it.

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Network simulators

On a basic level, a network simulator uses mathematical formulas to create a theoretical and entirely virtual model of a network. Simulators are software solutions and different types are available for different applications. While used primarily for research and educational purposes, they can also act as crucial testing tools in the design and development of a network.

Simulators, such as ns-3, are used to simulate networking and routing protocols. OPNET, which was acquired by Riverbed in 2012 and applied to their SteelCentral product line, also provided a standalone simulation environment.

Both of these network simulators use discrete event simulation which chronologically queues and processes events like data flow. This allows a network architect or engineer to build and evaluate an experimental model of a network, including its topology and application flow. Since a variety of theoretical scenarios can be introduced to a network where anything can be built and applied, performance can be hypothesized before the network itself has even been implemented within the real-world.

Although testing a network in such a manner can save both time and money, network simulators aren’t without their limitations. These highly complex operations require a degree of experience and training to properly configure in order to acquire reliable results. Additionally, network simulators just aren’t practical in that certain events can’t be anticipated independently of a physical network.

answer Nov 12, 2018 by Bharath
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