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A Comparison of Network Simulation and Emulation Virtualization Tools

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Information and Network Security

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Te-Shun Chou East Carolina University

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Dr. Te-Shun Chou is an Associate Professor in the Department of Technology Systems at East Carolina University (ECU). He received his Bachelor degree in Electronics Engineering and both Master's degree and Doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering at Florida International University. His research interests include machine learning, wireless communications, and network security, especially intrusion detection and incident response.

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Steve Keith Baker East Carolina University

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My teaching interests include networking and security. I also enjoy teaching emerging technology classes and working with the Internet of Things. My background includes twenty years of IT experience with both the private and public sectors. I try to bring real-world examples into my classroom, and provide students with a well-rounded view of expectations in the workforce.

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Miguel Vega-Herrera

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Virtualization technology has been popularly used in teaching computer network works. In general, there are two tools that could be used when creating virtualized networks: simulators and emulators. Simulators mimic the basic functions of network devices but do not provide all the properties of the devices, whereas emulators behave exactly like the realistic network. Moreover, virtual computer systems, such as Windows and Linux could be connected to the network devices, such as routers and switches.

There are two well-known network simulation and emulation tools that are widely used in teaching network computer courses. They are PT (Packet Tracer) and GNS3 (Graphical Network Simulator), both addressing different features. PT is a network simulator that is designed by Cisco Networking Academy. It only implements limited real network device features and is mainly used to teach CCNA level courses. GNS3, based on Dynamips, Dynagen, and Qemu, is capable of building realistic networks.

In this paper, PT and GNS3 will be compared from the perspectives of capability and complexity. Strengths and weaknesses of each will be discussed. In addition, networks will be built in order to illustrate the points of our discussion.

Chou, T., & Baker, S. K., & Vega-Herrera, M. (2016, June), A Comparison of Network Simulation and Emulation Virtualization Tools Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26285

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