Current network management tools look at device interfaces and measure packets in and packets out. They do not look at characteristics of the local link or the end-to-end user link. The end-to-end link may cover many connections and will encompass the aggregate behavior of all those links. End-to-end link characteristics may be critical to the performance of some network based applications and SNMP-based network measuring schemes cannot find these characteristics. Flow based measurement can determine the characteristics of a link and provide statistics about overall performance of a network.
Aardvark is a distributed real-time network analysis system. Probes distributed around the network can generate and analyze data in real time and provide feedback to a central controller. Archive files can be generated for post-processing. Aardvark probes generate known data streams which receiving probes analyze for delay, loss, throughput, interarrival times, and jitter.
The user can set the parameters such as packet size, packet rate, TOS, packet rate distribution, and packet size distribution for the data flow. Aardvark can produce both IPv4 as well as IPv6 data streams in both unicast and multicast. Aardvark probes are implemented in a UNIX environment, but the command center and data viewer are multiplatform.
Further work is adapting these probes to automatically probe the network and provide estimated available bandwidths across the network. This is being planned to connect to a user map display.
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