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Product Reviews
September 2004

RADCOM Performer

RADCOM Equipment, Inc.
6 Forest Avenue
Paramus, NJ 07652
Ph: 800-RADCOM-4
Web site:
List Price: Performer Analyzer for VoIP analysis starts at $20K; for wireless applications, the starting price is $40K.

Editor's Choice Award

Installation: 5
Documentation: 4.75
Features: 5
GUI: 4.95
Overall: A

Many testing tools are evolving to incorporate VoIP applications into their testing platforms. RADCOM’s Performer is a very powerful platform that offers myriad testing capabilities with protocol support that ranges from cellular to wireless to VoIP (including SIP and H.323). RADCOM came to our labs and demonstrated the RADCOM Performer, which actually consists of several optional modules, including Cellular Performer, VoIP Performer, and Performer Analyzer. A portable version of the Performer is also available, called the PerformerLite.

The Performer can be used for both pre-deployment and ongoing testing of VoIP applications on the network to verify system performance. It generates realistic network environment stress levels on VoIP devices and applications, and then tests the quality and grade of service. Essentially, you can think of Performer as a network analyzer on steroids. Just like a standard network analyzer, you can use Performer’s packet capture capabilities to monitor and capture network traffic, but its real power lies in its ability to automatically examine the packets and offer meaningful analysis other than simple packet decodes. This analysis includes graphs, reports, VoIP quality analysis, jitter, and other useful data. Also, since it can recognize the VoIP media streams, you can capture and play back a SIP H.323, MGCP, or Megaco call.

The Performer platform contains both hardware and software integrated onto a Windows XP machine running on a rackmount chassis and can be remotely controlled using easy-to-use console software.

We installed the remote console software onto a separate PC which consists of your typical Windows interface (Figure 1). We found it interesting how RADCOM decided to engineer the remote access. The RADCOM server only transmits the data from the server to this Windows GUI. If RADCOM had decided on using desktop remote control software to access the server (i.e., pcAnywhere) the bandwidth used to transmit screen pixels would be much higher. Overall, the user interface was very good and easy to navigate. We had no problems creating various test scenarios, and in particular we focused on the VoIP testing features.

We should mention that Performer is expandable to monitor several Ethernet network ports and it can either monitor the traffic via a mirrored port or it can also work in a “pass through” configuration. Simply by adding additional modules, you can monitor more ports. The module we had supported 10, 100, and even 1,000 (Gigabit) Ethernet. Other modules are available to monitor other types of interfaces, such as E1/T1.

The Performer has several critical features, including the ability to provide highly accurate measurements synchronized with either GPS or NTP servers. Performer has several powerful components each with their own unique testing capabilities, including:

  • 323Sim: VoIP Simulator capable of emulating the functionality of an H.323 terminal. Several simulators can be deployed to increase call volume to thousands of simultaneous calls, with each 323Sim generating 2,000 calls at a rate of over 80,000 calls per hour.
  • SIPSim: Session Initiation Protocol simulator with dual-mode functionality capable of emulating multiple SIP phones and implementing sessions between two Media Gateway Controllers or two IP-PBX servers. Also able to stress and check ability of registration servers to handle heavy registration loads.
  • MegaSIP: High-volume SIP-based traffic simulator with two important capabilities: MegaStress for generating millions of SIP-based signaling sessions per busy hour, and MediaStress for generating high volumes of media-based calls.
  • MediaPro: Real-time VoIP monitor that analyzes media and signaling data generated from H.323/MGCP/SIP and Megaco protocols providing voice quality measurements. Also provides valuable information, such as caller line ID, call duration, source, and destination, used to verify billing integrity in relation to call detail records.
  • QPro: Performance test solution that provides GoS, QoS, and voice quality measurements (based on PESQ or PAMS) between any two multi-technology locations connected through PSTN and cellular interfaces.
  • Capture: A drill-down tool offering protocol decoding up to the application layer and supporting filters and analysis of the captured data.
  • MasterScript: An ideal tool for preparing scripts that control different Performer entities. The scripts, written in TCL (Tool Command Language), provide dynamic scripting capabilities that enable the running of automatic tests on various Performers simultaneously, implementing the optimization process saving time and effort.

We should point out that all of these components are controlled from a single console and from a single user-interface, which made it very easy to perform similar tests or configure settings, across the various components. We were also impressed with the ability to perform automated testing using scripts.

For our testing, we made some VoIP calls using a few SIP phones in the lab. We made a call from a Pingtel phone to a snom 200 phone and used the Performer to monitor and capture the SIP traffic. As seen in Figure 2, Performer displays the ladder diagram for the SIP call that we made. This graphical representation of the SIP call is invaluable to troubleshoot VoIP issues.

Additionally, we made a call from a Cisco 7960 phone to the snom 200 phone just to ensure that Performer was indeed able to capture SIP traffic from a variety of SIP devices. We were able to view the “Closed Calls” of all the SIP calls we made (Figure 3) and then open any of these closed calls to playback the RTP stream. We were also able to look at important VoIP statistics such as min/max call setup, jitter, and more.

Of course, within Performer we were also able to observe the packet decodes as you would see in any traditional network analyzer, which often is the only way to get down to the nitty gritty and troubleshoot network issues. We would have liked to have seen the ability to perform some sort of MOS scoring or PSQM/PESQ scoring on the captured RTP streams, but unfortunately, that feature was not available. However, we could have used QPro to perform PAMS or PESQ scoring, which plays canned prompts between two endpoints and then measures the voice quality.

VoIP Testing Features
• Subjective and objective voice quality measurements;
• Bandwidth utilization measurements;
• Cross measurements and correlated results;
• Remote scripting capability for fully automatic test procedures;
• Multi-protocol support including H.323v2/v4, SIP, MGCP, T.38 and Megaco.

As previously mentioned, there is another component called Cellular Performer. The Cellular Performer is a comprehensive cellular network analyzer for 2.5 and 3G networks. Supporting all of the most up-to-date cellular protocols, the Cellular Performer handles GPRS, UMTS, and CDMA2000. It integrates RADCOM’s proprietary GEAR (generic analyzer processor chip), which provides hardware-based full-line rate analysis capabilities at up to 2.5 Gbps. The Cellular Performer also provides fully automatic online and offline GPRS deciphering capabilities, session-level analysis of IP sessions and voice calls, and end-to-end voice quality measurements. In addition, it can perform real-time session analysis and QoS monitoring of GPRS/UMTS radio access and core networks.

The Cellular Performer can be used in GPRS, CDMA, or UMTS networks. It tests end-to-end QoS, GoS, and voice quality measurements. The QPro application generates calls either on the cellular or PSTN (or VoIP) side of the network and measures the degradation in the user-perceived QoS. Other applications offer extensive testing of VoIP (SIP or H.323) integration in cellular networks. Additionally, Cellular Performer can be used to analyze other streaming media formats, such as MMS and H.324 messages. In fact, we examined a H.324 capture video file, which we were able to playback with full audio and video.

Since we didn’t have a cellular network in our labs, we were content to check out some captured cellular traffic that RADCOM provided us. We found that analyzing cellular protocols was equally as user-friendly using similar interfaces to other test components we examined.

Cellular performer Features
• Protocol verification;
• Cell/frame-level analysis;
• Voice call and IP session analysis;
• Streaming media and voice quality testing;
• Decodes more than 450 telecom and datacom protocols, including the latest 3GPP R99, R4 and R5; and 3GPP2 IOS 3 and IOS 4 protocols;
• Supports standard protocols such as ITU-T, ANSI, IETF, 3GPP and 3GPP2, and country/vendor-specific variants;
• Supports all layers of protocols.

The documentation, which consisted of Acrobat files and online help was pretty good. We would have liked to have seen a more comprehensive online help, however. We were trying to figure out how to use a particular feature and the online help only gave a thousand-foot view of that feature and didn’t explain how to configure the various parameters.

Using the RADCOM Performer in the lab was an absolute pleasure. Its extensive feature-set, including support for a plethora of datacom and telecom protocols puts Performer in an elite class of testing tools. TMC Labs could certainly use the Performer in the lab on a more permanent basis. Maybe RADCOM will forget they sent us a demo unit?

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