Load Testing with DTM

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Use Case

Network load testing can include testing a single device or an entire system.  In either case, load testing requires that many pieces of the system to be present.  This can be challenging to setup in a lab, especially if you do not have all of the system components. It is difficult to perform load testing with tools designed to simulate a single device because repeating the test consistently in order to verify results is almost impossible. DTM solves this challenge by simulating up to hundreds of devices across a network and coordinating test scenarios with all the simulated devices from a single interface.

There are many different scenarios for load testing a device in a SCADA system. The Device Under Test might be a single IED or RTU and the desire is to connect as many clients as possible and make sure the device functions correctly. Alternatively, the device might be a gateway, data concentrator, or HMI in which case the test environment could simulate multiple IEDs/RTUs communicating with the Device Under Test. 
Device Load Testing
The goal is to put the device under test in conditions in excess of what they are likely to encounter in the field and to see where performance limitations exist.  DTM can be configured to create a simulated system that stresses the device under test beyond what it would see in the field.

DTM Capabilities Used

  • Test network or software application under load with hundreds of simulated devices across a real network
  • Generate messaging traffic with standard communication protocols found in SCADA systems 
  • Distribute the simulation of devices across multiple host PCs or VMs on the network
  • Create different levels of traffic with configurable data changes driven automatically, through scripting, or with CSV file playback


Example: Load Testing a Device


This example shows a typical scenario for load testing a gateway. In this test system, the gateway is communicating with multiple IEC 61850 servers and mapping the data and controls between IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850. 

There are four DTM Hosts, each running on a separate PC.  Each DTM Host is simulating different devices in the system.  The three hosts on the bottom are simulating IEC 61850 Servers and the host on top is simulating an IEC 60870-5-104 Master.  Each host is running on a separate PC, which distributes the simulation across the network. The Device Under Test connects to each of the distributed devices with different IP addresses and port numbers.

Data changes in the IEC 61850 devices can be driven automatically or through custom scripts to generate specific traffic. Data changes can also be driven by playing back captured CSV files from real systems.  Data change time steps can be configured to a specific number of seconds or follow the captured time steps from the CSV file. The data transition rate can be increased to stress the gateway.

In this way, load testing scenarios can be created to assist measurements of maximum throughput, latency, reliability, and other performance factors for the gateway. In addition to performance testing, custom scripts can be written to test the mapping of data through the gateway.


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