Friday, June 29, 2012

Review - Fluke Network One Touch AT

Earlier this summer I had the privilege to participate in Fluke Network's beta test of their OneTouch AT Network Assistant.  Many of us have our favorite software tools on our laptops that we use for troubleshooting.  Unfortunately a lot of times, it's not convenient to lug around a laptop (not everyone gets a Macbook Air to use).  Also there are some tools like network cabling qualifying that just can't be done by a laptop.

This generally leads to one of two scenarios.  Either you have budget and you buy a bag full of tools or you don't have budget and you make do without specialized tools.  For those with budget you will generally have a list of tools something like this:

  • Cable Toner and Probe Kit
  • Copper Cable Qualifier
  • Fiber Cable Qualifier
  • Wireless Tester
With the OneTouch AT, you have all of these tools, plus some of the best software tools all in one package.

Picture (c) Fluke Networks
Picture (c) Fluke Networks
As seen in these pictures the OneTouch AT packs in two Gigabit copper ports, two SFP fiber ports and an 802.11a/b/g/n wireless antennae.  The screen is a touch interface.  It's not quite as responsive as your average iPhone or Android, but the screen looks more robust which is good in a testing tool.  In addition to the tool itself, Fluke has various accessory packages that include a directional wireless antennae, wire locators, and a USB fiber scope.

Because of the dual ports for fiber and copper, the device can (with the right license) serve as a TAP to capture traffic.  From reading the manual, I don't believe that it is capable of full line speed. However, for most applications this TAP will be useful in troubleshooting.  The captures can either be copied over the network or via USB thumb drive.

The real place that the OneTouch AT goes beyond what you would expect in a network troubleshooting tool of its size is in the software.  Fluke has provided many predefined tests that can be applied against different tiers of networks and applications.  Once a profile is setup, an engineer or help desk staffer can hook it up, press Test and have a picture of everything from the client to the services it would access.  This alone could help narrow the troubleshooting time of a problem immensely by showing what tier in a multi-tier application is slow or failing from a client's perspective.

One of the predefined tests is also rather unique.  This is called VeriFi.  It uses the wireless adapter to connect to your network and do a throughput and latency check against a defined host on your network.  This lets you confirm usability as well as coverage.

My Take

If you have the budget, get this tool.  You'll save money and space compared to buying the individual tools.  My only complaint is that I don't have one in my toolkit yet.  There have been a few times since I had to ship it back that I wish I had still had my beta unit.  Take a look at the Fluke website for more information and details because I barely scratched the surface of the "apps" on this unit.


Fluke Networks sent me a free beta unit that was the basis of this review.  Because I participated in the beta and case study process I may end up receiving a OneTouch AT.  My review though is my own and what I really think.

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