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On The Use Of Virtualization For Router Network Simulation

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Curriculum in Telecommunications Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.925.1 - 15.925.11



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Paper Authors


Tianyi Li Northwestern University

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Tianyi Li is currently a graduate student pursuing his Masters degree in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University. He received his two B.S. degrees in Telecommunications Engineering Technology and Communications Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University and North China University of Technology in 2009. He is now in the division of Signals & Systems concentrating on networks, communication and control. His research interests include resource allocation for wireless networks, congestion control for TCP/IP networks, and computer networking.

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Walter E. Thain Jr. Southern Polytechnic State University

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Walter E. Thain received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University and teaches courses in voice and data networking, communications systems, and analog and RF electronics. Research interests include voice and data network design and management, network security, RF communication systems, and digital signal processing. He spent 12 years in industry, where he designed mixed analog-digital systems, including, short-pulse radars and antennas, low-noise analog circuits, RF circuits, pulse generators, frequency synthesizers, switching power supplies, and high-speed digital circuits. He is co-inventor on a patent for the design of electronic instrumentation used to steer oil wells while drilling.

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Thomas Fallon Southern Polytechnic State University

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Thomas J. Fallon received his BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. degree in Astronomy from Georgia State University. He
is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University and is coordinator of the BSTCET program. He has 20+ years of telecommunications industry experience, conducts networking workshops, and is author of the book The Internet Today. His astronomy Ph.D. research at Georgia State University involved astronomical instrumentation including the design and implementation of a remote operation system for a telescope array controlled via the Internet.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

On the Use of Virtualization for Router Network Simulation


The availability of powerful simulators has enhanced the ability to optimize communication network performance. The more complex ones can simulate many different types of network devices but with a limited degree of accuracy for each device. The intent of these simulators is to accurately represent the overall performance of the network in terms of metrics such as throughput, latency, etc. Still other simulators are specifically designed to emulate a particular manufacturer’s equipment, primarily for training purposes. This type can simulate the responses of the devices to a subset of configuration commands and can simulate some types of interaction between the manufacturer’s devices. This paper discusses the evaluation of the open-source Dynamips/GNS3 simulator for Cisco routers undertaken to determine its suitability as a teaching tool. This simulator is unique in that it is virtualization-based. It emulates the hardware of a number of key Cisco routers enabling the virtual router to run the actual Internetwork Operating System (IOS) software. Originally designed as an aid for those wishing to study for Cisco certifications it is extremely attractive as an instructional tool because no actual hardware is required and the simulations can include some esoteric capabilities of the routers. Indeed, fairly complex router networks can be simulated and virtual routers on one computer can interact with virtual routers on another. A number of the important capabilities of Dynamips/GNS3 were successfully executed, but with some difficulties at times. Nevertheless, the virtualization approach is extremely promising, if feasible, for a given type of simulation.


Employing simulations as a teaching aid is very useful, perhaps even more so in a distance learning environment. Southern Polytechnic State University’s (SPSU) Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) program is engaged in converting its curriculum to a distance or hybrid distance format. Since all but two of the ECET courses have a laboratory component, this creates a significant challenge in providing a similar laboratory experience for the off- campus students. An obvious choice is to require distance students to visit the campus periodically to perform hands-on lab exercises. This can be difficult for some students to do and will limit enrollment to students who can.

The laboratory for the department’s Telecommunications Engineering Technology (TCET) courses use primarily Cisco routers and switches that students connect in various configurations and program to give them the desired functionality for a given exercise or project. While remote access to a router via the Internet is possible, it must be done in a secure manner, such as through a VPN connection. Because the laboratory supports several courses, instructors change device connections and configurations as needed, sometimes on a daily basis. This instability leads to difficulty in managing distance students’ remote access to the lab.

An attractive alternative is the use of realistic simulations that give distance students a learning experience as close as possible to that of the on-campus students. Some important general criteria for a simulator are listed below.

Li, T., & Thain Jr., W. E., & Fallon, T. (2010, June), On The Use Of Virtualization For Router Network Simulation Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15817

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