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Large-Scale NetWare 5 Server Testing in the SuperLab

Articles and Tips: tip

Sarah Purcell
Novell SuperLab Engineer

01 Jan 1999

The Novell SuperLab was proud to host the NetWare 5 SuperLab Challenge in conjunction with the release of NetWare 5. Realistic high-volume testing is what the Novell SuperLab does best, and the SuperLab Challenge was the perfect opportunity to show how Novell and its partners work together to provide enterprise level networking solutions.

The SuperLab Challenge test environment was designed around a mock company, the XYZ Corporation. This scenario consisted of more than one thousand clients spread across four Ethernet segments in a pure IP environment. The XYZ Corporation used NetWare 5 for its application, file and print services. GroupWise 5.2 was used for its e-mail services, and the Novonyx Enterprise Webserver teamed with Border Manager/ Proxy Cache was used for its Web services.

The automated client activities for the over 1,000 individual PCs used in the test were developed to run a variety of applications from the server. A "test harness," developed in the SuperLab, allowed us to control the test environment and ensure a realistic test.

Novell hardware partners were invited to provide servers to be tested in this environment. If a server met the test criteria, the manufacturers were given a certificate of completion for that test.

Each server participating in the SuperLab Challenge was required to handle all of the networking responsibilities of the fictional XYZ Corporation for the entire five-hour test duration. This included logging in more than one thousand clients and maintaining those connections while the clients ran applications from, and saved files to, the server.

About Novell's SuperLab

The Novell SuperLab is a unique testing facility because of its size and automation capabilities. It earns the name "SuperLab" because of its virtual LAN technology, automated client configuration and control features, and more than 1700 individual computers. In addition, the SuperLab has a telecom lab which provides WAN testing capabilities through WAN simulators, a PBX system, ATM capability, and the latest in routing technology. With these resources, the SuperLab provides a stable, realistic environment for large scale testing.

The NetWare 5 Test Specifications

Listed below are the details of the large scale test known as the SuperLab Challenge 1998.

  • NetWare 5, Novell's latest operating system, acted as an application server and file server in a pure IP environment.

  • The server had to log in more than a thousand Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 98 clients and maintain these connections for five hours.

  • The network consisted of four separate 100 Mb Ethernet LAN segments with approximately 250 clients each, requiring the server to act as a router across these segments.

  • A GroupWise 5.2 post office was located on the server and handled all of the e-mail messages sent throughout the test.

  • The server ran Network Associates' NetShield virus detection software to perform real time virus scanning on all incoming files to the server.

  • An Oracle database was maintained by the server, which the clients queried during the test.

  • The Corel Office Suite 8 was installed on the server, and all clients ran the office programs from the server during the test. Client activities, such as the Corel 8 applications, generated additional traffic on the server by opening and saving files in server directories.

  • Novell BorderManager Proxy Cache was used to serve Web pages to clients running Netscape Communicator 4.5.

  • The Novonyx Enterprise Webserver was run on the server, and served pages to the BorderManager Proxy.

  • The more than one thousand client machines used in this test were controlled by a console developed by the SuperLab staff. This console allowed automated test scripts to be assigned to clients during the test. Automated scripts launched applications to simulate user activity.

  • All applications, with the exception of Netscape, were run from the server. Loading client applications from the network created even more stress on the server.

Server Applications

Servers participating in SuperLab Challenge 1998 were configured with the following applications. The network topology is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Network topology diagram for the SuperLab Challenge 1998.

  • NetWare 5.0. Novell's latest network operating system acted as an application, file and print server in a pure IP environment.

  • GroupWise 5.2. Clients sent and received e-mail messages within the local network. The GroupWise post office and domain were located on the server.

  • Corel Office Suite 8. The complete office suite, WordPerfect, Presentations, and Quattro Pro, was installed on the server and all clients ran these applications from the server.

  • NetShield. NetShield for NetWare, by Network Associates, performed real-time virus scanning on all incoming files to the server.

  • Oracle 8. An Oracle 8 database was installed on the server. The server managed this database throughout the test.

  • Novonyx Webserver. Novonyx Enterprise Webserver served Web pages from the server hard drive to the BorderManager Proxy server.

Client Automation

All tools and test scripts used for the SuperLab Challenge were developed by the SuperLab staff. The test consisted of a master console to control the client activities and collect statistics from the server during the test. An agent running on each client machine reported to the master console after the client had logged in. The client then received instructions on when to run a given application.

The fictional XYZ Corporation was divided into four departments—Accounting, Marketing, Research/Development, and Administration. The type and frequency of applications a client would run during the test depended on the department it belonged to, which helped to add realism to the test scenario. Automated scripts were used to launch applications and simulate client activities. Idle time, or client time not accessing the server, was randomly set between each application launch in order to make the test more realistic.

Client automation scripts were written for the following applications:

  • GroupWise 5.2. Clients sent and received e-mail messages within the local network. Each time a client ran this script it would send ten e-mail messages to random users in the network.

  • Corel WordPerfect 8. Typical word processing activities were performed by the clients running this script. Generated files were saved in, and accessed from a client's individual directory on the server. This application was run from the network, creating additional load for the server.

  • Corel Quattro Pro 8. Clients ran this application from the server. Spreadsheet files were created and edited and generated files were saved on the server.

  • Corel Presentations 8. Each time this automation script was run the client would launch Presentations and run a slide show. The application and the slide show were run from the server.

  • Oracle 8. The server maintained a database which was accessed and updated by clients through SQL scripts.

  • Netscape 4.5. Each client accessed web pages from a BorderManager Proxy server, which in turn received pages from the Novonyx Webserver running on the participating test server.

  • Notepad. Each client opened notepad from the server, typed a series of HTML files and save them back onto the server in the client's home directory.

The Results

NetWare 5's SuperLab Challenge for 1998 was a success. NetWare 5 itself proved to be a stable platform capable of handling the file and application required for this large scale test. The following list of fourteen servers ran this test and met the passing criteria.

  • Gateway ALR 9000

  • Gateway ALR 8200

  • IBM Netfinity 5500

  • IBM PC Server 325

  • Siemens Nixdorf Primergy 460

  • Compaq Pro-Liant 7000

  • Fujitsu GranPower 5000 Model 670

  • Fujitsu teamserver M796i

  • NEC Computer Systems Express 5800 LS2400

  • Intel AD450NX MP Server

  • Compaq ProLiant 1850R

  • Compaq ProLiant 1600

  • Hewlett-Packard NetServer LH3

  • Hewlett-Packard NetServer LC3

The SuperLab would like to thank all partners for their participation. We plan to provide more opportunities like the SuperLab Challenge to promote real world, stable testing for other Novell and partner products.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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