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Case Study: How cPacket Networks uses Nouvola to ensure outstanding end-to-end performance with continuous testing 

Posted by Marketing Nouvola on Jan 17, 2018 1:17:31 PM

cpacket-2.pngcPacket Networks is a company that develops high speed network performance monitoring systems. Thecompany develops its own ASICs and builds complete systems that leverage the unique capabilities of the HW.

The performance of cPacket’s system is of utmost importance to its users. The system itself has a distributed architecture and collects data from many endpoints in the network. Because of the nature of the architecture, performance bottlenecks can occur in multiple places. Nouvola makes it possible for cPacket to continuously test performance to ensure that the introduction of new hardware and software does not degrade the user experience, and to enable ongoing performance optimization of cPacket’s solution on multiple layers.

Technical challenge

cPacket’s system incorporates multiple layers (ASIC, HW, SW, Database, Web UI) and uses multiple devices (cVu, cStor, cClear) which are distributed globally. Therefore, there are many different potential bottlenecks that could negatively impact performance. The scale is such that it is not practical to test all possible combinations and scenarios, and it is impossible to predict performance regression for every new software feature without a robust performance testing solution. Ultimately, the challenge is to reliably ensure an excellent user experience in advance of rolling out new features and capabilities.

Solution

Nouvola DiveCloud enables cPacket to continuously test the performance of its system, ensuring that new capabilities and SW modifications don’t hurt performance. DiveCloud is easy to use, providing cPacket with a continuously updated dashboard that illuminates the impact of performance on the user experience. Even with all the layers and complexity of cPacket’s system, Nouvola’s solution makes it easy to see all of the critical information and quickly recognize any problems that need to be addressed.

cpacket screenshots.png

By leveraging Nouvola’s API, cPacket was able to integrate DiveCloud into its continuous integration environment to support continuous, end-to-end performance testing. DiveCloud’s convenient dashboard has enabled immediate, ongoing monitoring of end-user latency changes over time (hours, days and weeks), which provides the crucial visibility to accurately correlate system performance with the SW changes, system changes and network loads that impact it.

Results

The ongoing performance testing enabled by Nouvola has allowed cPacket to identify and characterize at least one major regression thus far. The regression was traced back to a new feature added by cPacket to collect more information about TCP flows. The ability to measure average latency over a period of days made it easy for cPacket to identify the software release which caused the issue. In this case, the collection of additional information caused an explosion in the number of time-series in the time-series database, which in turn caused a major slow down.

Having an instant top-level view of the latency pattern crucially allowed cPacket to recognize that there was a performance problem right away. As with many performance issues, investigating and rootcausing problems is not simple, and here Nouvola adds further value: being able to have a continuous reference and gauge on current performance was critical to helping cPacket identify the problem and validate the solution in a timely manner.

In cPacket's words 

This is what cPacket Networks has to say about Nouvola DiveCloud:

“Using Nouvola provided us with an extremely useful view of the end-to-end performance which allowed us to recognize performance problem right away. Working with Nouvola is extremely easy, and the company has been very responsive and helpful as we fine-tuned the testing process.”

Ron Nevo, VP System Engineering, cPacket Networks

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Topics: Case Study

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