Looking Ahead to MFD5: NetAlly

I love it when companies show up to Mobility Field Day each year, ready to show their latest product, updates, and ideas.

Over the last several years, NetAlly (previously NetScout) has shown up each year to show off their updates and seek feedback on where they might focus next. NetAlly has proven to be receptive to feedback and responsive as they demonstrate advances in their handheld tools.

During the last year, we’ve seen the advancement of the Etherscope nXG to a survey tool with the introduction of AirMapper. This utility allows a wireless engineer to load a floorplan through Link-Live, import it to the Etherscope nXG, and then survey a facility, carrying only a single device. Once the survey is complete, it is re-synched to Link-Live for viewing, enabling easy, fast, and remote troubleshooting.

In today’s COVID-19 climate, remote troubleshooting is a significant boon to the tool. The simplicity of AirMapper makes it easy to ship to a local resource, who, with basic instructions, can perform a survey of the facility allowing the wireless SME’s to work in more places, faster, all from their home office.

I’m excited to see the latest news for the Etherscope nXG and AirMapper.

Link-Live is another product NetAlly continues to innovate on. Last year at MFD4, they announced several enhancements, including an API. The API enables the ability to create custom reports or integrate test results into existing customer systems.

I would love to see the API enable the ability to prepopulate sites or job lists and then archive old data based on labels.

The AirCheck G2 also received updates last year at MFD4, although the focus was clearly on the Etherscope nXG. It gained Wi-Fi6 visibility for management frames and headers, the ability to upload iPerf Test results to Link-Live, and a few other features. I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more information about the AirCheck G2 this year.

Finally, I would like to throw out a few things I hope to hear more about from NetAlly.

First, there are going to be some obvious questions about 6Ghz and Wi-Fi 6E. I’m sure NetAlly is working away on future products, and I hope they can begin to talk about what 6Ghz means for them.

I made a request last year, which you can find at the 20:50 mark here:

In short, I would like the AirCheck G2 and Etherscope nXG to have port profiles for a switch applied at the push of a button. Those profiles could be implemented by a technician installing an AP or other device without providing them access to an actual CLI or GUI or knowledge of how to do so. There are a LOT of ways to implement the idea with APIs, SNMP, or even Python scripts, so I know its not an easy task. It also highly variable depending on the switch vendor, model, and OS. But, considering the great functionality NetAlly continues to add to their devices, I am sure they are up to the challenge!

Whatever NetAlly brings to MFD5, I am sure it will significantly expand the functionality of their tools and make the lives of their users easier.

What would you like to see from NetAlly at MFD5? Be sure to check out the Mobility Field Day 5!

MFD3 – Link-Live Updates

This is the third blog from the Company-Previously-Known-As-Netscout’s session at Mobility Field Day 3. You can read about the AirCheck G2 v3.0 update and also the LinkRunner G2 v2.0 Update.

To catch you up, I came into MFD3 less enthusiastic than most regarding Netscout and their lineup of handheld network tools. With that said, I took notice in 2017 at MFD2 that the company was paying attention to feedback and looking for suggestions on how to improve their product offerings.

One of those improvements for MFD3 was a further expansion of the capabilities of Link-Live.

Link-Live has matured into a tool for consolidating all of your test results AND managing the tools at your disposal.

Many of these updates were covered in the LinkRunner and AirCheck updates, but bear repeating:

  • AirCheck software updates
  • AirCheck G2 Profile sharing
  • Packet capture sharing
  • Simplified App search for the LinkRunner G2
  • Files Folder – There is a lot more available that can be uploaded and saved to a project folder
  • Full AutoTest results

The most significant aspect of the Link-Live updates is a clear direction to make the LinkRunner and AirCheck entirely manageable without a Windows PC. This is a substantial shift from the past, and I am very excited to see it taking place because I stay away from Windows as much as possible.

So, the ultimate question, does the updates to the AirCheck G2 and LinkRunner G2, along with the new features of Link-Live make me change my opinion? Do I now see the ROI? Would I spend my budget, either personal or business on either tool?

The answer is “yes” to all of the above. With the divestiture of the handheld tools from Netscout into its own company, I expect the future to be bright. I think we will continue to see updates, new use cases, and great support. The handheld network tools team has won me over, and I’m happy to change my previous opinion. I will acquire both tools over the coming months for my personal toolkit, as I know my employer doesn’t have the budget. I don’t think there is more to say.

MFD3 – AirCheck G2 V3.0 Announcement

aircheckg2In case you missed it, MFD3 was an opportunity to reevaluate my opinion on the Aircheck G2 and LinkRunner G2. After my experiences at MFD2, I was no longer openly hostile towards the tools and saw that there was a legitimate desire to be open, fill the needs of users, and provide regular updates with new features.

As someone who identifies explicitly as a Wireless Network Engineer, the AirCheck G2 has been on my radar for a while, so I was interested, maybe even excited, about the opportunity to see the latest updates.

The AirCheck G2 v3.0 update adds:

  • Over-the-Network firmware updates – Sadly the V3.0 software update will have to be loaded from a PC, but from that point forward, a user with an active support contract can update the device directly.
  • Over-the-Network profile sharing – If your organization has more than one AirCheck G2, you can now ensure that everyone is testing using the same profile, all over-the-air through Link-Live.
  • Improved Link-Live interaction – manage device profiles, get test results, packet captures, etc.
  • Improved Locator Tool accuracy the Locator Tool now uses all three radio chains to enhance signal strength and accuracy
  • Enhanced AP name support – can now read AP names from Aerohive, Aruba, Cisco, Extreme Networks, and Huawei
  • Improved iPerf test performance – can now test using iPerf2, up to 300Mbps
  • Improved packet capture workflow – now users can be particular regarding the type of traffic they want to capture
  • Voice VLAN on ethernet test – if there is a voice VLAN assigned to the ethernet port, it will be displayed
  • Import certificates with a thumb drive – This simplifies importing certificates and is especially crucial for wireless engineers who might work at various customer sites.
  • Static IP’s can be assigned to the ethernet port
  • Other updates, which you should watch the video to see:

 

So, have I changed my mind? Am I ready to own a LinkSprinter G2 or AirCheck G2? Well, I think we should discuss Link-Live. That definitely factors into my decision.

MFD3 – Huge updates for AirCheck G2 and LinkRunner G2; then Netscout announces their sale

Mobility Field Day 3 was great! If you missed it, I will be releasing a few blogs over the coming weeks from my experience at the event. In the meantime, you can watch all of the videos here:

https://techfieldday.com/event/mfd3/

One of the most interesting developments this morning was the announcement from Netscout that it was divesting its handheld network test division to StoneCalibre.

The press release can be found here:
https://www.netscout.com/news/press-release/netscout-divests-handheld-network-test-business

While this announcement creates quite a few questions around the future, I firmly believe that the great group of people who have brought us the recently announced LinkRunner G2 v2.0 and AirCheck G2 v3.0 software updates are going to keep killing it. I’m excited to see what they bring to us in the future and hope to see them presenting once again at Mobility Field Day 4.