Network Emulators – “The Internet in a Box”

The Purpose of Network Emulators

A network emulator or WAN emulator enables its user to observe and assess the real world effects on an application or device in the lab by emulating every wide area network condition. The Internet, private wide area networks (WANs), and cloud services are just some of the means by whichusers connect to applications, larger/other networks, and one another. A growing demand for applications and programs to run faster comes not only from the users themselves but also through the simple and natural evolution of programs growing in complexity, power, and faster processing rates.

Of course, before presenting any sort of application, portal, program, or any other type of network scenario for public or private use, testing is a must. Network emulators thoroughly test all possibilities on a network product or application by creating real world effects in the process in order to minimize the potential for missing any issues. Filtering, impairments, modifiers, and routing are some of the standard features of a network emulator, however, it’s important to know what other features network emulators are capable of. Just some of the functions and abilities to look out for in a network emulator include the following:


  • Easy-to-use GUI
  • Encompassing or Extensive Impairments
  • Extensive Modifiers
  • Advanced Filtering
  • Time-Varying Emulation
  • SMPTE FEC Video Impairments
  • On-the-Fly Impairment Changes
  • Statistics
  • Impair IP and non-IP traffic
  • Dynamic Emulation
  • Data Generation
  • Multiple Interfaces
  • Live Network Capture & Replay
  • Impairing IP and non-IP traffic

Emulators are designed for different purposes. Knowing which of following applications is most suitable is also key to successful testing:

  • Enterprises
  • Field
  • Developers
  • Quality Assurance
  • Manufacturers
  • Carriers
  • Application Performance
  • Remote Location Testing
  • Application Development

Network Emulators In Praxis

So who uses network emulators anyway? Well, there’s certainly a very broad range of applications just like there are many types of network emulators to begin with. Network emulators are utilized globally by governments, military organizations, corporate enterprises, educational institutions, retailers, finance groups, communications companies, and professional services. Whether it’s in the media or manufacturing industries or the transportation or technology sectors, network emulators reach truly is far and wide and certainly not bound by geographical location. In fact, the very basis of what makes emulators what they are is the fact that they have the ability totest network traffic conditions between two pieces of hardware that may literally be only feet apart when they may be representing two points that are on opposite sides of the world from one another.

Not to be Confused with Network Simulators

In contrast network emulation, network simulation generally takes place completely in software. Essentially, it is a more virtual scenario overall. As such, it has the ability to only replicate certain but certainly not all scenarios. Why use it then if it has such a tremendous drawback? Well, for one, it depends on what the user is testing for. If simulation meets their needs, it makes sense. Furthermore, simulation is generally thought of as a more rapid method for ascertaining data. While actual hardware equipment is sometimes employed in simulation, most professionals would agree that emulation would be the more accurate term at that point.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As networks and applications amp up ever more both in ability and quantity, the need for extremely robust testing is not only necessary in terms of keeping up with the growing complexity of programs and environments but also in terms of the pursuit of offering the best product possible due the sheer number of competitors that grows more and more with each day. At the end of the day, ensuring optimal performance is a must. Companies, organizations, and the like need network emulation in order to stay relevant and be at the top of their game and a high-performing network emulator geared towards their needs is the right tool for the job.