The world is changing and so is Spirent

Sometimes it’s great to sit down for a presentation with no preconceived ideas. It makes it interesting to listen to a guy up the front in a company t-shirt, who you’re not viewing as the ‘Vice President of Marketing & Product Strategy’. The title doesn’t actually do justice to Neil Holmquist from Spirent Communications.

The internet would tell me that Neil has a 15 year career with Spirent, beginning as an engineer. It would also give me a ton of information about the telecommunications testing company itself, founded in 1936 and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The presentation itself told me, loud and clear, that Spirent knows that the market is changing and Neil is passionate about supporting that change. That shouldn’t be news to anyone in tech, right? But when companies like Kodak & Blockbuster couldn’t see the writing on the wall, it’s nice to meet a company with an established history that’s not resting on its past successes.

I had an overview of and a sneak peek at Temeva (TEstMEasureVAlidate, get it?), Spirent’s new software as a service portal for Cloud and network testing. The concept has a few strong things going for it:

  1. It recognises that your environment is a whole lot more complicated than it used to be, especially when you’ve introduced Cloud services.
  2. It recognises that infrastructure engineers have given over a degree of control to Cloud providers, assuming that they’re getting the S3 level of compute power from Amazon that they’re paying for … and they’re not entirely happy about this blind faith.
  3. It recognises that the way you consume services and buy tools has changed. Generally, the market isn’t satisfied anymore with paying thousands of dollars for a product with a million features, especially when they only use a subset of that.

To quote Neil “We want to make it accessible, from cost to usability, to get the testing and get the answers that you need, faster.”

Temeva can provide you with information on application performance and SLA validation in Cloud environments where you are managing a server instance or application instance (not consuming an application as a service).

It’s initiated through your own company Temeva portal, which is LDAP compliant to hook into your own authentication directories. You can select the test components that you want and pay per active test. This is on steroids, giving granular analytics on latency, jitter, packet loss, corruption etc. It uses ‘synthetic trafffic’, not just packet floods. The performance testing uses simulated workloads to actually hit storage, CPU & RAM.

The Traffic Center lets you customise your own health indicators (latency, packet loss etc) and tolerances, to alert if the performance is within your acceptable range or not. And it’s smart enough to watch previous test runs and alert you if results are ‘out of the ordinary’ for you.

The simulated workloads are a big deal for anyone wanting to make changes, as you can now test the impact of shutting down an office location and doubling the staff load at another location. With Spirent’s test agents in the Cloud, you can enter your parameters and see if an S3 is going to be sized correctly to give you suitable application performance, based on your estimated workload.

That got my attention. Well, that and the subscription model.

The most common thing that small businesses lack is a test environment. If they’re lucky, they have some test VMs. But to be able to test from your own office the impact of moving to Amazon? That’s very useful, especially if the testing is cost effective.

The other thing that got me (and you’ll see me speak up in one of the Vimeo vids), is the system’s ability to load a pcap and replay your actual network traffic. That’s on the roadmap for the product, but to me it’s an important feature. I want to be able to make a change after hours and run a test that functions like it was the middle of the work day … once again, because smaller businesses don’t have test networks. Sorry networking guys, I know you’ve just all gasped in horror.

Overall, the Temeva product showed promise and the presentation left me wanting to keep a track on its developments. Whether it will be a fit in the SMB market is still to be seen (especially without talking about pricing), but the geek girl part of me thinks its capabilities are pretty cool.

If Neil’s passion gets out into the market, hopefully that cool factor will turn into another success story for Spirent.


Spirent Temeva Overview:

Traffic Center demo:


Disclaimer: I attended the Spirent presentation as a guest of Tech Field Day at Virtualization Field Day 6. My travel expenses were covered, but I’m not being paid to write this post. I may however have been wearing a free Spirent t-shirt when I wrote this post. It was really comfortable.

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