Single Network Interface

The standard use case for a perfSONAR node is operate tests (either throughput- or latency-based) on a single network interface card. The speed of the card does not matter and should reflect the desire of the operator.

perfSONAR with 1 Gbps interface
perfSONAR with 10 Gbps interface

Testing throughput and latency simultaneously on a single interface is possible, but has been shown to impact test accuracy.

Dual Network Interfaces

perfSONAR supports simultaneous forms of testing by dual-homing the host to use two network interface cards. The toolkit software allows the operator to configure both network cards, and specify which interfaces will be used for a specific type of measurement.

perfSONAR with dual interfaces

More information on this operational style can be found here.

Performance Beacon

The basic use case for perfSONAR is to make the node available for others to use. This is referred to as the beacon use case. By setting up the node, keeping it “open” (i.e., not imparting policy that would prevent the average user from initiating a test), and ensuring that it remains operational, networks can allow others the ability to learn what their end-to-end performance characteristics look like.

perfSONAR as a performance beacon

Other sites can incorporate this node into their testing, by hand and by regular testing means. A beacon can be created using the perfSONAR toolkit ISO or bundled RPM install. The former methods are preferred from a usability and maintainability standpoint.

Performance Island

Similar to the case of the beacon, a performance island stands alone, but is configured to test to other beacons, islands, and mesh members by the maintainer.

perfSONAR as a performance island

This method requires more maintenance to identify hosts to test with, and is able to store and produce graphs of the results of testing. This instance can be created using the perfSONAR toolkit ISO or bundled RPM install.


Establishing a performance “mesh” involves coordinating several nodes, potentially maintained in different networks, via a shared configuration file that describes a test. This configuration is read by the tools, which then perform the tests and store the results in either a central location, or on each of the members.

perfSONAR in a mesh

Software such as MaDDash can be used to visualize the collective results:

perfSONAR mesh with MaDDash

This instance can be created using the perfSONAR toolkit ISO or bundled RPM install.