Adtran is leading development of an application-level testing initiative for the Broadband Forum.
According to Ken Ko, Adtran’s senior staff scientist and a board member of the Broadband Forum, application-level testing is the “standards-based use of test methodologies and metrics based on application-level behavior.”
With the Broadband Forum initiative, Adtran will be working to create a set of tools, including data models and requirements, that can test network systems. Importantly, the tools will work independently whether they are used in physical or virtual node-based architectures.
Adtran has been internally developing these application-level testing models and has “seen their value firsthand,” said Ko. But the company saw a potential to maximize the value of the models by adopting standards.
While application-level testing isn’t a new development, as many companies have the technology, Ko notes that the difference here is that there isn’t currently a standardized way to employ it. What the Broadband Forum is hoping to achieve with this initiative is to create a set of standards-based approaches, using data models, to create tests that are unambiguous, portable, and repeatable.
These tests will benefit service providers, vendors, and testing labs by allowing them to manage network traffic as application and service parameters evolve.
Adtran’s background is in software-defined access networks. In fact, the company last year formed an open source network alliance based on its own SD-access platform, Mosaic, to accelerate the path to adoption. Additionally, Adtran has worked with the Broadband Forum previously, contributing to YANG data models released by the Forum. These models were designed for the provisioning and management of multi-vendor SD-access services.
This new initiative is independent of the access technology. It works with wired, wireless, copper, fiber, and coax. But the continued evolution of this testing will help deliver the “promises” of software-defined access, according to Ko.
The group will primarily address high-speed internet access for residential use and later focus on business applications. Ko said the group is focusing on this first “because these applications are so broadly used and generate such a large proportion of traffic flowing across access networks that modeling their behavior will provide a lot of benefit in a short time.”
Additionally, the initiative will define a model for the generation of test traffic at the application level to recreate the real-time behavior across multiple applications and users. And it will create a reference implementation to use in test cases in Broadband Forum test environments and the testing environments of its stakeholders.
The first project will focus on those three goals. It is called Project Steam, led by Ko, and is expected to be completed later this year, with new projects coming in early 2019.
“We expect this to be a continuing effort since as new application classes emerge and become responsible for significant amounts of traffic, we will want to model them,” said Ko. “We are currently working through an initial surge of activity in which we put the architecture, requirements, and initial models in place. After that, we should be able to maintain the framework with less effort.”