Network simulation software is designed to model the potential behaviors of computer networks. These applications allow network engineers and other information technology (IT) personnel to simulate scenarios without a test bed of networked computers, network routers, and other potentially expensive hardware devices.
Often, network simulators are used to test new or changed protocols in a controlled environment. Network simulation software is also used to model scenarios such as a sudden increase in network traffic or the effects of a denial-of-service attack. Most products allow network designers to use a range of technologies while experimenting with nodes such as bridges, hubs, optical cross-connects and media access units (MAUs). Some network simulation software enables experimentation with various data layers, network layers, and routing and transportation protocols in networks consisting of point-to-point, Ethernet, and other standard-segment types.
Network simulation software supports networking protocols such as ATM, Ethernet, IPv4, IPv6, token bus, and token ring. Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) is a high-speed technology that uses fiber-optic or CAT-5 copper cables. Ethernet is a local-area network (LAN) protocol that serves as the basis for the IEEE 802.3 standard, and which specifies the physical and lower software layers. IPv4 and IPv6 are the fourth and sixth versions, respectively, of Internet Protocol (IP), a technology for transmitting data across a packet-switched network. Token bus features a bus topology and uses a virtual token-passing mechanism for regulating network traffic. With token ring networks, all devices are connected in a ring or star. Network simulation software for other network protocols is also available.
Specifications for network simulation software include types, applications, and supported techniques. There are two basic simulation types: discreet and continuous. Discreet event network simulation software stores a list of pending events and processes them in order. Continuous simulation software represents changes in a variable’s state over time. Applications for network simulation software include wired networks, wireless networks, and sensor networks; cellular network simulation and call center simulation; and network design and analysis. Supported techniques for wireless networks include frequency shift keying (FSK), phase shift keying (FSK), differential shift keying (DPSK), and quaternary phase shift keying (QPSK).