New wireless networks are being designed with a wide variety of goals in mind, such as improving worker productivity, delivering mission critical information to troops in combat, or just enhancing mobile lifestyles. Wireless networks require different capabilities than their wired counterparts, such as specialized middleware, service-oriented architectures, net-centric services and mobile on-the-go applications. Unfortunately, these technologies have not yet reached the level of maturity needed to support the demands of the wireless users of tomorrow.

To ready network infrastructure for next generation wireless, new technologies must go through extensive and costly design, testing, analysis and evaluation. This process is prohibitively expensive both in terms of equipment and personnel resources, as well as time investment.

To streamline and reduce the cost of rolling out new wireless technologies, emulation provides an exact digital replica of a real network or part thereof. Emulations using EXata software allow for the whole or a part of a real network to be replaced by a counterpart representation in software form.

EXata is software developed by Scalable Network Technologies, the makers of QualNet network simulation software. It is a new category of testing/development tools that exercises networks, network elements and users in ways that legacy modeling and simulation software cannot. It is ultra high-fidelity evaluation software that digitally represents an entire network, including every variable that will affect the performance of the real network — devices, communication links, transmitters/antennas, terrain and atmospheric effects, and human interaction/operation. EXata’s digital representation of networks is said to be so accurate that no user or connected component can discern whether it is connected to the emulated network, or the real network. EXata is a faithful representation of the system being replaced, and interfaces seamlessly with the rest of the system, even for the most complex of networks.

The emulation tool supports the same behavior, interaction and response. A software or hardware system developed or evaluated in EXata is guaranteed to plug into a real network without a hitch. This is because the code that runs in EXata can also be migrated into the deployment environment. That eliminates the need for additional man-hours to rebuild a prototype system in EXata so that it can run in a real network.

EXata offers desirable platform portability and interface flexibility Sequential and parallel processing environments on Unix, Windows, MacOS X and Linux operating systems are supported, and it links seamlessly with other simulation applications and real networks.

Both EXata and QualNet improve the reliability of network-centric systems. While QualNet is simulation software for a constructive representation of networks, EXata is emulation software for a live representation of a network. QualNet is used to analyze or make predictions about a system, while EXata is an actual replacement for that system. The product will be released in Q4 2008.