TL;DR: Go here.
A Brief History of
When you look back at the history of Avalanche, you realize it was the first ever web testing stateful test tool – that could scale, anyway. It really picked up because it was the only way to test the first stateful firewalls of the time, mostly from major vendors such as Cisco and Check Point. The tools started in the R&D labs, you know, people who look at the bits and bytes and need a super-flexible tool because they are either developers or dedicated test engineers. And then quickly spread to be used in quality assurance, and by many other customers such as Service Providers.
As it grew Avalanche is probably the most widely used stateful test tool in the world. Some very large enterprises, with dedicated testing teams (such as banks or major car manufacturers, for instance) were also customers, but in much smaller numbers than R&D teams from Network Equipment Manufacturers. But these days, we see the need for Avalanche-like testing rise a lot in the Enterprise market.
We started to see that trend become more prevalent in the last couple of years. More and more Enterprise customers now want to test. The flurry of attacks we’ve seen in the past years might have something to do with that. Enterprises are starting to realize that you need to test as much as possible for many reasons – before buying, before changing the configuration, before upgrading, etc. This is a Good Thing ™. But it comes with challenges.
Challenges of a R&D GUI
When your daily job is to manage a corporate network, deal with security alerts, setup BGP Peers and all these tasks Network Administrators have to achieve, you are likely not expected to be an expert at testing. And when the GUI is made for Developers or expert Performance Testing Engineers, it can get tricky. Do we really need to put the IP Fairness Threshold or the HTTP Transactions per TCP connection values in your face? Probably not.
Another important area is “How do I test, anyway?” Again, is it the job of a Network Administrator to keep up-to-date with the latest Test Methodologies? Probably not. Companies like NSS Labs, ICSA, UNH or EANTC (kind of) share theirs, but there are a lot of them and they don’t tell you how to configure an Avalanche to match these testing advanced methodologies. When you buy from us you’ll always get somebody on the phone to help you, but you shouldn’t have to pick the phone in the first place, should you?
There are more points, but these are the two main ones. In short, the GUI need to be Methodology- or Test-Based, not a blank slate; and it should show only the settings that matter to non-test experts. The GUI should be simple, but not simplistic and still accommodate the needs of everyone. Easy, right?
Enter Avalanche NEXT
But we like a challenge at Spirent, and we took that one on. A few days ago, we announced Avalanche NEXT. It’s a web-based, test case-oriented GUI following the tenants of Responsive Web Design. You browse to the GUI, load a test case (we plan to provide a lot of those, and I wish I could share some of those already in the works!), pick where you want to send the traffic to and from, what kind of traffic and how to mix it, put some thresholds for pass/fail criteria, and then just run. At the end you get a scored based on how far off (or not) the test performed relatively to your pass/fail criteria. You can also download the latest Applications and Cyber Security threats for the latest in testing twice a month!
I will post more articles in the future about Avalanche NEXT, as this one is more an explanation as to why we initiated that project in the first place.