Kathy O'Neil
Ixia Product Marketing

What is Network Protocol Conformance?

August 29, 2018 by Kathy O'Neil


Network protocol conformance is the act of ensuring a product in development adheres to relevant industry standards, so it can interoperate with other devices and perform well as part of a system. For Ethernet-based networking products, industry specifications are set by organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). With many protocol specifications categorized in groupings such as IPv6, IPv4, routing, MPLS, multicasting, transport, VPN, automotive Ethernet, PPP, carrier Ethernet, bridging, and SDN—the interoperability requirements for a single device is staggering.

How to Know a Product Meets All the Specifications

With every build, equipment manufacturers undergo tedious and resource-intensive testing to ensure their products conform to all the relevant industry standards. Identifying and addressing last-minute product reworks is considerably time-consuming and costly, so conformance testing must produce timely answers to questions such as: 

  • Does the device’s protocol software meet specifications? 
  • How well does the device handle traffic from non-complying network components? 
  • How might new development impact existing code? 

To meet tight schedules with less staff, quality assurance (QA) teams must make these complicated tests repeatable and automated. Ixia, a Keysight business, is the leading provider of such conformance testing. Its IxANVL solution provides a library of conformance test cases that QA teams can schedule and execute automatically with only minimum input. It records every step in the execution, providing logs and ladder diagrams for quick bug troubleshooting.

Whether embedding conformance testing into a daily build schedule for a new product or including with development/integration testing with any new development project, equipment manufacturers need predictable, repeatable, and automated protocol conformance validation.