NetAlly EtherScope nXG Valuable Features

Scott_Smith
Independent Consultant at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
We use a wide range of its features. * We use the WiFi discovery. * We're starting to use the new AirMapper Site Survey app which came out recently, and I like that quite a bit, with its Link-Live Cloud Service. * We've used packet captures, both wireless and wired. * Performance testing continues to be a go-to when we need it, especially because we can do 10 Gb on it. Most times it's 1 Gb or less, but having 10 Gb functionality is grand. * We use the autolink test frequently. * I've even gotten a few apps from the app store. It's nice to have it all built-in. The multi-technology functionality of the solution, including the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device, means I now have one device that can do a multitude of tests, and fairly reliably. I can lean on it. I can say, "Hey, this is the proof I need," for whatever the scenario is. It is definitely a great asset. I have other tools still, wireless or wired or both. But this one, with its functionality and development, is quickly becoming an all-in-one, versus having to carry two or three or four. In terms of the solution's full line rate 10-gigabit capability, my other 10 Gb test equipment is much bigger, bulkier, and heavier. One of my ways of assessing the nXG was to compare it with what I knew to be tried and true on 10-gig to make sure that they matched, and they did. It very quickly got my trust. The fact that it can do 10 Gb, without dropping a packet from what I've seen so far — and we used it a lot in that first three months — tells a pretty good story. It's easier for me to walk out the door with this handheld device than it is with two, three, or four big, bulky devices. There's a time and place for the bigger bulky ones too. But, in the grand scheme of things, it's certainly much nicer to carry one than two or three. In terms of the AirMapper Site Survey app, I love it when it works. I'm on the beta team for this feature and I have definitely found it very fascinating. Its basic use has a great place in the market. I'm still a big fan of NetAlly's AirMagnet Survey PRO. I've used Survey PRO since version 1 and they're on version 9. It's a great product, a great tool, a great resource, although it has limitations as well. I can definitely see a niche for both and a need for both. In functionality and use, what I really love about the AirMapper program is that it's handheld. It's much easier and lighter to carry around than the old, bulky version. I don't have to worry about having big biceps at the end of the day, or extremely sore biceps. I just go to a specific area, tap it, and wait until it turns green and do the same at the next area. It collects data cleanly and then I can upload it to the cloud. To be fair, I love the client of the Survey PRO; love the functionality, and I'm so used to using it that I prefer it. But it's definitely bulky, and program-wise, it's heavy and you obviously have to have a license. It becomes very difficult to potentially share it with or train additional staff. There are pros and cons to both products. There are niches for both and I think there are good cases to have both. Once you're used to and understand the newer methodology of how AirMapper collects the data and why, it's fine. And as the person holding the device, you have full control over how quickly it scans by tweaking the settings. If it is taking too long you can change your variables. You have to be cautious because you don't want to lose data. But you can also increase the time if you need to make sure you get all your data. One of the biggest pros of AirMapper is that you just hit upload to the cloud and you can use anything with a web browser to look at it and manipulate it, view it, and even share it. The fact that you can review it now on any computer that has web access is phenomenal, versus using the client. That's been fantastic. The AirMapper app is fairly straightforward in terms of ease of use once you understand the methodology. It definitely seems to be a very valuable asset. I think there is going to be some more development of it because it's still new. Given that AirMapper is basically version 1.0, whereas Survey PRO is on version 9.0 and has hundreds of thousands of man-hours in use, comparing the two isn't fair. You're comparing an infant to a full-grown adult. Over time, I know it's going to grow out of its infancy. Given the WiFi market and the current standards I think it will have a phenomenal place. One of the main reasons I use AirMapper is the feature in the app that allows you to create heat maps in the vendor’s Link-Live Cloud Service. In terms of its ability to visualize key performance metrics, overall I've been fairly pleased. That part of its functionality is a little more comparable to the AirMagnet Survey PRO. And as I said, it's nice that it's web-based, so I can do it on a Linux machine. I don't have to worry about having a license, I just have to have a Link-Live account. On that level there is good use for it. In terms of using AirMapper to validate changes or troubleshoot problems, it could potentially be a little slow to collect data compared to other tools. However, you can tweak it to make it a little faster if you want to. It would have a very comparable mean time for getting on site, taking the analysis, uploading it, and then reviewing it. Certainly, one of the most powerful things in this scenario is that you can upload it to the Link-Live Cloud Service and someone who is hundreds or thousands of miles away can review it instantly and give advice if they need to. You can then make some changes and verify again. Whereas with a Survey PRO, or any other WiFi products that I've used, like Ekahau, that might not be nearly as feasible. They need some way to get that data to the other person to review it, and that other person has to have the same tools and versions — everything has to be the same. It can become a hassle if you have to jump through all these hoops to analyze, review, and then recommend changes. The nXG itself has a nice advantage there. View full review »
Jonathan-Davis
Senior Network Engineer at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
The most valuable feature would be the wireless testing capability. The newer features are becoming part of my workflow as well with AirMapper by being able to display coverage in a particular area, e.g., doing small surveys in a particular room or area. The ability to remotely troubleshoot: Being able to connect it up from my desk, then do wireless testing (or something along those lines) elsewhere. The Ethernet testing and verifying for the network connection makes sure it: * Goes into an access point or device. * Correctly configured. * Provides the proper POE * Has the correct links. * Verifies that my cable installers are delivering on what they promised. I know when I run AutoTest what I should expect as far as response times from DHCP and DNS. It allows me to create a consistent test that runs exactly the same way every time. Then, whenever I hand it to someone else who isn't as familiar with all of the individual steps, I know that as long as they're running that AutoTest profile, it's the exact same thing as me being there running the testing. Because those results are consistent, when there are inconsistencies, I can assume that it is network or system related rather than user related. Link-Live's ability to visualize key performance metrics covers the basics quite well. It provides me enough information so I can go, "Yes, this is a signal problem or an SNR problem." Then, I can take it to the next step, "Okay, it's not a physical layer problem because signal, SNR, and all of those things meet expectations. Or, it points out those areas." I can't say that it provides all of the metrics I need, but at least it provides that quick view so I can look at the basics of the physical RF and verify that those do/don't meet the specifications. This solution provides visibility into our network that we could only get by using many other tools. While there are other tools that provide the same function, it does a great job of covering the basics of a lot of tools all in a single package. For example, some of the other alternatives out there for testing networks end-to-end will do that perfectly fine, but they don't do heatmapping. Ultimately, it's a single toolbox that my support staff and I need to learn. This is rather than having six different solutions that each do their own thing. It's a single device/solution, where if you learn it and learn it well, you can replicate results from disparate systems. View full review »
reviewer1349703
Test Engineer at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
One of the key measurements that we use out of the device is the channel utilization measurement, how much traffic is on the air in a given channel. That's the most valuable feature for us. The ability to make a very fast measurement of how much traffic is on the air is a key value. Otherwise we'd have to do a packet capture and do some analysis. It speeds up our testing. The newer version of NetAlly, the nXG, does a better job than previous models of allowing us to drill into conversations between individual clients and access points and get packet captures. Its ability to do 802.11ax is also useful. In addition, the device is easy to use for less skilled staff but with deep diagnostics for our experts on stuff. The graphical approach that it uses makes it very easy to see what's going on over the air and where your potential problems may be. And the graphical interface to pursue a problem is also very easy to use. Having said that, we're a fairly highly-specialized group, so I don't know that I have a good answer about less skilled users. What I'm judging by is that everybody in our lab, whether they're WiFi-specific experts or not, can pick it up and use it very easily. But in terms of whether technicians and other other folks could use it, I really don't know since I haven't given it to other users. But the ability to get to the view that you're interested in, and get a number quickly, makes it an easy-to-use test tool, as compared to a spectrum analyzer or a more complex tool. It's definitely an easy to use device, easy to navigate around, and it makes good use of the user interface. View full review »
Learn what your peers think about NetAlly EtherScope nXG. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2020.
442,283 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Ryan Ulrick
Consulting Engineer at CDW
I don't think I can really hone in on a specific feature that has made this product valuable to me. Its unique combination of testing, analysis and troubleshooting tools packaged into a single unit in a reliable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing platform has been fantastic. The ability to perform packet captures, traffic analysis, iPerf testing and more in the palm of my hand has contributed to a wildly successful product and contributed to my ability to drive customer satisfaction in a big way. The multi-technology functionality of the solution (ie. the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis up to 10GB speeds in one device) has really been a huge improvement in the NetAlly products. Previously, while some of the older generations I worked with had those capabilities, they could only do a little bit of wireless or a little bit of wired, but they couldn't really do the whole spectrum together. This product has allowed me to slip one conveniently sized utility into my bag wherever I'm going and know that, right there in my bag, I have the resources to do any of fiber, wired Ethernet, or wireless testing, without having to dig into a bag if I need to change technologies or for adapters or for a different test. It's all one, convenient, centralized unit. I use the pre-programmed AutoTest feature as a starting point and, overall, it is a very successful utility. It provides a wealth of information to the user. AutoTest isn't just a, "Is your network good to go or is it not?", type utility. The software will analyze the network conditions and provide valuable output to the user to aid in identifying network issues. It will also provide you a detailed readout on how the various test were performed, what step a tes failed out and what caused the failure. For example, if it had to wait too long for a DHCP address to be assigned, or if it couldn't reach a destination, it will provide that output as well. AutoTest provides a large amount of information for quite a few test parameters in one convenient dashboard. It also has the ability to upload those results to NetAlly's Link-Live Cloud Service. That has been invaluable for sharing results among my team members and analyzing results after the fact. I also make use of the solution's full line-rate 10 gigabit capability very frequently. I have customers who have 10 gigabit or higher infrastructure in their organizations and, whether we have to do speed testing on those units or we simply need to connect to a port that is a 10 gigabit line rate port and determine information about it, having this small unit is wonderful. While NetAlly's OneTouch could handle 10 gigabit, it was roughly the size of a large book. It was pretty difficult to carry around conveniently or break out in the event that I needed to utilize it. As a handheld tool, the functionality is incredible. I'm always working with one technology or another, but it's all focused around networking.This single unit can provides me the troubleshooting and analysis capabilities of five or six tools that I would've had to carry before and it fits in my backpack. I can carry it with me all the time, charge it very easily via USB-C and immediately have it available and ready to use in a customer environment. In addition, the solution is easy to use for less skilled staff, but has deep diagnostics for experts. Many times when I'm onsite, I'll hand my tester to someone who may be a manager or on maintenance staff in that department. I'll send them to a closet to test the cable for me when I'm on the other end looking a console or other readout, so that I can see the results and what's happening. They're very easily able to plug in the device, hit AutoTest on the screen and press start. It's as easy as that. There are a variety of tools out there for things like packet capture and speed rate testing. But having them all in the single unit is invaluable. You're able to walk up to a device, plug it in, and, if you need to take a packet capture for troubleshooting, it's right there, built into the device. If you need to do a speed test, it's built in. Whereas before, you'd have to have dedicated applications, pull out a laptop, make sure you had the right thing installed and, if not, go install it, and then perform the testing. View full review »
Andrii Danylov
Systems Engineer at IT Management Corp
The most valuable feature is the ability to identify the switch port ID, when you plug the EtherScope into the network drop, and many other details about the switch. This is very useful because when you are not in that IDF or network closet but far away from that switch, you can identify the port and then configure it for your needs remotely. It is very useful to know exactly which port and what exactly the switch is. EtherScope can tell if there are network connectivity and access to the Internet along with the info about the switch. That's the most frequently used and the most valuable feature for us. Another very useful feature is the WiFi analysis. The EtherScope helps us to see if there is any interference in the wireless and it shows radio channels capacity and current utilization with the number of connected clients on those channels. It shows the channelization (width of the band)of both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It is extremely useful for on-spot WiFi analysis and identifying problems in that area. The multi-technology functionality of the solution, the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device, is also very useful. This combination of different technologies in one device is very handy when you need to do some troubleshooting on site when there is a problem with the network and you don't know where to start. You can test both wired and wireless connections and identify the issue pretty quickly. We use the pre-programmed AutoTest feature all the time for both wired and wireless. It has all kinds of possible tests in one test that is run automatically. It's very handy to see the results on different layers of the network. As I mentioned, we use the full line-rate 10 Gb capability to test the fiber speed, the connection between the server and the distribution panel. We run the re-installed application, installed inside the EtherScope. We can run data between the EtherScope and the server and this shows the true throughput that can be achieved, and it can be fiber or Cat 6 cable. It has very rich functionality and its compact size adds a lot of value because it's very convenient to carry it and use it. The fact that it is battery operated is also very good. The tool can be used by anyone with basic technical knowledge. That person can capture all the information. Another great capability of the EtherScope is that it allows you to upload the results to the cloud at the time the test was done, and then, someone with better expertise can access those results and provide analysis. But to use it, you don't need to be technically educated. It's easy to use. View full review »
Ken Knotek
Owner at Camber Integration
The most valuable part is absolutely being able to assess existing WiFi networks quickly. You get very powerful details of networks, details that you couldn't see unless you had multiple pieces of software and hardware. This does it all in one thing. The pre-programmed AutoTest feature finds network problems quickly, just like all of NetAlly's tools. There are three or four core things that you need to be working on a network and the EtherScope gets to it quickly, for troubleshooting. It's very easy to use. If you're trying to figure out: What are these SSIDs? What kind of APs? What channels are they on? There's no easier way to drill into those details. It also provides deep diagnostics for sure. It has a lot of features that I don't need for everyday use, but it's nice to know they're there if I ever do need them. View full review »
Movses Tovmasyan
Engineer Support at Cisco
I really liked the remote login. That way, if I needed to do something inside of a ceiling, I didn't have to sit inside the ceiling. I could just plug it in and leave the instrument in the ceiling and go to my laptop and use it remotely. That was really good. I really liked that. We do WiFi testing with our AP, but I didn't get a chance to use it because of COVID. However, I did do a quick test. One thing I liked was that it would tell me signal strength, the noise in the nearby ones, and it would even tell me about some hidden ones. That was cool, as most units don't tell you that. Another good thing I really liked was that it would not only tell me the IP address, but it would tell me more info. It would grab the CDP off of the CDP profile and read all the info it could get, so I knew what I was looking at. The WiFi and the wired were really good. While I didn't use very much of the WiFi, what I did use was good. It has automated tests where it goes through each process. It took a while but I would just let it do its automated testing and I was happy with that. If I'm not mistaken, there were two pre-programmed functions. One of them was to check reports and why traffic was not running. The other one was checking cable noise and cable quality. I used the automated testing for cable noise and cable quality more than I used it for protocol and trafficking. On the side I did use it, it was good. I liked it. It was accurate. I know because I used another tool, a Fluke, and they were really close to each other, so I'm assuming they're both calibrated the same way. View full review »
Learn what your peers think about NetAlly EtherScope nXG. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2020.
442,283 professionals have used our research since 2012.