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Is it Possible to simulate many physical IP endpoints using a single machine?

I work for a company that makes a network access control device. It is an out of band solution that controls access through user and host authentication/registration. It also does  device profiling, endpoint compliance, tracking and location, creation of guest/contractor accounts etc, etc. It's extremely configurable.

To test something like this is very challenging as there are thousands of test permutations, but I want to ask about load testing.... For one you need many, many IP endpoints. My question to you all is this....Is there any clever way to simulate a large number of online connected endpoints? Obviously (and for sure)  each endpoint needs to be physically plugged into a layer2 switch and have its own unique hardware mac address but I'm wondering if there is any clever way to build something or if something is already available that could simulate a large number of endpoints (like 50-100 or more) using a single PC. Again I'm pretty sure this controlling PC would need to plug into something that in turn would have a large number of physical endpoints...but is there a way to make all these endpoints each look like it's own PC? (virtualization?) I guess the answer is no but thought I'd throw this out there.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
how many IP addresses?

A virtual machine can have 10 network interfaces, and then you could assign 5 IP addresses to each network interface.
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LinkAuthor Commented:
50 unique endpoints on a single machine would be great, but since our system monitors endpoints by mac, having multiple IP's assigned to a single MAC would not be of any benefit here.

1. From what you are saying it sounds like you can have 10 unique network interfaces on a VM. Does it have to be a VM? Would a Win7 machine or some sort of server support 10 NIC's?
2  Having 10 nic's in a single machine may be a start. Since this is for test only (not for speed), can you recommend some older minimum hardware requirements for the cheapest type of machine that could support this?
2. What would the cost roughly be per system?
3. Is there anyway to somehow sort of "spoof" multiple mac-addresses from a single NIC?  I have to assume this can't be done but wanted to ask the experts.

The goal would be to try and create the cheapest way possible to build a test network of any kind of IP platform with the most unique mac endpoints. Again our product works on MAC addresses and I wanted to know if there was some was to use a single NIC to generate multiple mac addresses.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1.

10 NICs is the Maximum of Virtual NICs per virtual machine.

as per the vSphere 5.0 Maximums Document
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere5/r50/vsphere-50-configuration-maximums.pdf

Providing the OS can support that many NICs, Windows 7 or Server OS, will function.

2. This is a Virtual Machine. Any Server which supports VMware ESXi 5.0 which is a FREE Download. Check the VMware HCL (Hardware Compatability Lists) here

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl

for a supported server.

3. Mac Spoofing is supported in ESXi 5.0.



You could also use

VMware Player 4.0 Free Download
http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_player/4_0

VMware Workstation 8.0 (60 day trial, $199)
http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_workstation/8_0

which also support 10 NICs per VM.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi)
https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/index.php?p=free-esxi&lp=1
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