Into the Ether

Fluke releases the handheld EtherScope Network Assistant for quick problem solving in gigabit networks. It is also designed for virtual LAN environments.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  November 22, 2004

Fluke Networks has released a new handheld device that is designed to save time for network managers by improving reaction time when troubleshooting gigabit networks. The Linux-based device utilises full-duplex 10/100/Gigabit copper Ethernet testing and includes an automatic problem log. “The EtherScope is designed for the network technician, who needs to troubleshoot faster than a PC or software allows when problems appear. Its main advantages are Gigabit connectivity, easy operation and a fast response Linux platform. It is also light, easy to transport and can also be used in a virtual LAN environment,” says Werner Heeren, regional sales manager MEA, Fluke Networks. “In addition, it can team troubleshoot, which means if an engineer is troubleshooting he is on the network so other engineers can remotely see what is happening,” he adds. The lightweight and compact device displays real-time diagnostic results of devices, networks and problems. Duplicate IP addresses are pinpointed along with network misconfigurations, frame errors, auto-negotiation failures, high-utilisation segments and cable problems. Up to 1,000 devices can be discovered, viewed and stored in the on-board database. Additionally, EtherScope has the ability to accomplish basic cable tests (length, wire map, shorts, split pairs, pin-to-pin connectivity via wire map) on live connections. This allows for the isolation of hardware or cable problems from other network issues. Network professionals can also analyse overall network health and improve network performance by using performance trends documented in XML-coded web reports. Measurables include network attributes, baseline performance, device inventory, a problem log and switch-port statistics. EtherScope automatically determines the nearest switch, interface and VLAN for each discovered device, making it easy to resolve issues and track configuration changes. Discovered devices can be conveniently organized into IP Subnets, Net BIOS Domains and IPX networks. The Switch Scan utility allows the technician to see into switches for visibility of traffic statistics, errors and connected devices on each port. The device comes with a high-resolution full-colour touch-screen display and allows users to clearly monitor key devices and identify vital network statistics including protocol mix, top senders, top broadcasters and error sources. “EtherScope is a product with a clear constituency,” says Jeffrey Nudler, senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. “The network technician will be pleasantly surprised at the levels of troubleshooting information the EtherScope provides. Its ability to detect devices and afterward examine various parameters, combined with EtherScope's easy-to-use GUI, will be helpful and appropriate for today's market,” he adds.

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