Tag Archives: AirMagnet

Say Hello to NetAlly- a New Old Friend

When it comes to wireless tools, there are some products that are just beloved by most of us in the trenches. When conversation turns to WLAN verification and characterization,  the AirCheck G2 comes up pretty quickly. I’ve written about it on occasion myself, like here.  My friend Sam Clements has also covered it, and the Air Check G2 and other related products were featured prominently at last year’s Mobility Field Day 3, under the NetScout banner. The G2 and it’s related products are easy to appreciate, and get their fair share of coverage, as it should be.

But things change in San Jose.

The AirCheck G2 and select other NetScout tools and software have spun off into their own new company, called NetAlly. The press release can be found here, and the new NetAlly product family includes all of these from NetScout:

So… some tools we know and love have a new logo… big deal, right? It actually is, as NetAlly’s focus on a smaller product set (handhelds/laptop software) should bode well for product development and updates.

Speaking of which-  the new company will be presenting at Mobility Field Day 4, which can only mean new magic will be revealed. I’ll be watching it first hand, on site as company reps do their announcements. More information on that session, with eventual video  of the live streamed event, can be found at this Mobility Field Day page.

Given that the G2 products have a huge following (and many of us are waiting for AirMagnet to get new development before we pay for ongoing support), this will absolutely be worth following.

Ally

Wireless Handheld Testers You May Not Know About

In the world of Wi-Fi engineering and support, there are definite crowd favorites when it comes to tools.  Not every WLAN Pro sees the world exactly the same when it comes to tools, and usually what we pick to use in our daily duties comes down to ease-of-use (which can be subjective), cost, and effectiveness. That equation shakes out a little bit different for each of us, yet the same tools tend to show up often in what is a fairly limited market. I’m not talking apps here, as there are lots of those. Here, I’m more getting at handheld wireless tools, or if you want to stretch it a bit, ones that plug into a USB (or Lightning) port to turn the host device into a handheld tester. Before you yawn and click away, let me get right to the point: chances are that almost all of us have at least one tool from MetaGeek, or AirMagnet/Fluke Networks, or maybe Oscium. You know… the usual stuff. (Again, no slight to the software/app toolmakers in the crowd.) But this blog is about the slightly exotic. Of late, I’ve stumbled across some funky looking brands of hand-held testers/spectrum analyzers that I’d like to share. If you know of others that are off the beaten path, please let us know in the comments.

I’ll ease you into this with one from a company that’s actually been around a long time, and used to be more mainstream among wireless tools- the Yellow Jacket BANG, primarily a spectrum analyzer from Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS).

YJ-BANG

Everything BVS has ever put out just looks cool. Here’s the specs on the Yellow Jacket BANG.

Next- get an eyeful of this thing:

winet

From Test Um, with more info here. Needless to say, it’s underwhelming… yet interesting to look at, no?

Next up- the RF Explorer. (I wish I could say that in a Darth Vader voice with reverb effect.)

rfexplorer

(With handsome carrying case!) Details and specifications here.

Moving on to the 802 AWE from Trilithic Broadband Instruments, I have to say that this one looks like it could be for real, and a possible competitor to the Fluke Networks AirCheck.

802_AWE

I’d love to take the 802 AWE for a test drive. Check out this whitepaper, and see what you think.

We’ll finish with an interesting offering from the UK.

artisan

 

The Vonaq Artisan Wi-Fi Tester also looks like a for-real tester, and that snazzy orange case means it should be safe in the woods during deer hunting season.

How many of these have YOU seen before? Ever laid hands on any of them? Do any of them interest you? There *may* be life beyond MetaGeek and Fluke Networks here… Please add your thoughts.

Taking Colasoft’s Capsa 7 Enterprise For a Spin

A few weeks back, I was invited by Colasoft to take a look at their Capsa 7 Enterprise analyzer. Having a little time off around the holidays, I finally got around to spending a couple of hours with the product. This hardly constitutes an in-depth review, but I can share some of the first impressions this interesting and powerful tool made on me during playtime.

I was vaguely familiar with Colasoft, having looked at some of their rather nifty freebies (like a multi-host ping tool) in the past. Wanting to get oriented before digging in, I popped in on the website to see what the promise of Capsa 7 Enterprise amounts to. Lifted from Colasoft’s pages:

Key Features of Capsa Enterprise:

  • Real-time packet capture as well as the ability to save data transmitted over local networks, including wired network and wireless network like802.11a/b/g/n;
  • Identify and analyze more than 500 network protocols, as well as network applications based on the protocol analysis;
  • Identify “Top Talkers” by monitoring network bandwidth and usage by capturing data packets transmitted over the network and providing summary and decoding information about these packets;
  • Overview Dashboard allows you to view network statistics at a single glance, allowing for easy interpretation of network utilization data;
  • Monitor and save Internet e-mail and instant messaging traffic, helping identify security and confidential data handling violations;
  • Diagnose and pinpoint network problems in seconds by detecting and locating suspicious hosts;
  • Ability to Map the traffic, IP address, and MAC of each host on the network, allowing for easy identification of each host and the traffic that passes through each;
  • Visualize the entire network in an ellipse that shows the connections and traffic between each host.

It’s a pretty ambitious feature set, for a $995 price tag. (“Enterprise” differs from “Professional” in that Professional doesn’t do WLAN.) Capsa is only available for Windows (all versions), and this is a laptop analysis tool rather than a datacenter-racked super-sleuther. Also- WLAN support includes up to 802.11n, but not .11ac yet.

That’s the intro, but how does the product actually perform? I’ll admit to being impressed.

Image

Though I know my way around plenty of CLIs, I’m a UI guy- I hate sucky, confusing, ill-laid out interfaces. Colasoft passes my muster in this regard- Capsa 7 packs a surprising amount of analysis info into a peppy and nicely designed dashboard. Having little Ethernet in my home these days and not wanting to get up off my duff to set up a wired test scenario (it’s the holiday break, after all) I aimed most of my tire-kicking at my home WLAN environment (currently a mix of Aerohive and Meraki). As with any analysis tool, you start by selecting your adapter, and in this case a WLAN channel and one or more SSIDs, and off you go- no AirPcap needed or any sort of special drivers (I tested it with a number of adapters, all did well).

You get variety of analysis profiles to pick from (Full, Traffic Monitoring, Security, HTTP, Email, DNS, FTP, Instant Messaging), and deep views into the gory details of 802.11/802.3 packets as you would with any competing tool. You also get just a nice range of different views that feel AirMagnet-y (or WildPackets-y) at times, but what you don’t get is any of the spectrum type channel plots that MetaGeek gives. Short of that, Capsa 7 is pretty comprehensive.

My “testing” amounted to generating a bunch of nothing-special network traffic both locally and across the Internet, and then drilling into it looking for anyplace I might want to go for analysis that Capsa fell short on. There just wasn’t any.

I am intrigued enough to play further, and my fully-functional eval copy will also get turned loose on my big WLAN when I get back to work to see how it does in the presence of an enterprise-grade 802.1x Wi-FI environment with a ridiculous order of magnitude more clients than I have at home. If there is anything good or bad to add, I’ll come back and amend this post.

Meanwhile, Colasoft does make Capsa 7 available for free 15-day trials.

If you’re in the market for a decent all-in-one wired/wireless analyzer, AND you don’t need 11ac support, AND you run Windows, you might want to have a look at Capsa 7 Enterprise.