Fluke OneTouch AT Review
Fluke Networks has recently increased their push into the acronym game with the OneTouch AT. Touting enhanced BYOD, VoIP, 802.11ac support*, and end-user experience analysis Fluke claims “the OneTouch™ AT frees up nearly a week of time each month historically spent troubleshooting problems.” That’s a farily bold claim and I’m not sure where that math came from, but nonetheless it is a pretty useful tool. On the main product overview Fluke lists 3 bullet points to sell you on it.
1. Unique AutoTest profiles for standardized troubleshooting and network validation scenarios. Enabling fast, efficient testing for novice and expert technicians using pre-defined best practices, identification of the most common end-user issues in about a minute.
2. An All-in-one integrated wired and Wi-Fi network discovery and analysis. Manage Wi-Fi networks and devices, including BYOD, with advanced tools and in-depth discovery and analysis.
3. Remote management and capture for efficient collaboration. Since 40 percent of problems span multiple organizations, it enhances team collaboration through a simple web-remote interface and easy-to-use inline packet capture capabilities.
Personally, I can speak to the Autotest feature. It works really well. Basically, you create profiles which allow you to predetermine a set of tests and have them ready to go when you press a single button. It can be wired, wireless, or both. Everything takes place on the home screen where there are 3 distinct “zones” for the tests to be categorized under. From the top down you have “Public/Internet”, “Private/Intranet” and the network/services area. The public and private locations each hold a few tests that are simple and quick to configure such as a host ICMP ping check and TCP connection test. The network automatically adds gateway reachability, DHCP (when configured on the interface), and DNS tests but also runs through a discovery of the switch (LLDP/CDP), neighbor discovery, SNMP polling (if configured), and spits out interface Rx/Tx statistics as soon as the test is fired up. You can also choose to insert a “Wi-Fi Performance” test which is configurable to report the Rx/Tx rate, loss limit, duration of test, frame size, DSCP value, and destination of the test (local, peer, or remote reflector). The added ability to run 802.1X on both wired and wireless also allows for simple security tests and quick user experience verification. The peer function give you the ability to use another OneTouch AT for bi-directional, asymmetrical testing and the remote reflector allows a LinkRunner AT 2000 or equivalent to act as a reflector for round trip testing.
In my environment there isn’t often a need to do an inline packet capture; I think it would take me longer to walk to the client than to setup a SPAN port and open Omnipeek. I can see how we may use it in the future. Our helpdesk team doesn’t have access to the switches but if we were to outfit a couple of them with this device they could grab captures for us. We could even teach them to do basic analysis and look for any obvious issues before sending it up the line. If we were to have an IP telephony system I would want this feature even more.
The remote management seems like a curious and useful-to-some feature. By adding the ability to leave this thing in a closet or troublesome wireless location and wire up the management port they’ve given you the ability to do long term analysis and spot checks at a moment’s notice. If I’m doing long term analysis, typically I rely on something a little more robust and a little less portable (with a nice shoulder strap so would-be theives don’t drop it when they’re walking off). Just because I can’t think of a use case doesn’t mean they don’t exist though, so you be the judge on that one.
The OneTouch AT is a monster device with so many features it’s hard to cover them all. I have found it to be an invaluable tool that’s easier to carry around than a laptop bag with all the kit neccessary to accomplish the same levels of testing and verification across the various technologies (cooper, fiber, and ethereal). But not by much. It is a bit cumbersome and barely fits in one hand… I’m not a small person. The fan noise that comes out of the sides was a bit surprising too. All of that is overshadowed by the ability to spot check cable failures, run switchport traces, verify client experience issues, and baseline an existing environment. All that as well as the reasonably long battery life, simple reports, and dummy-proof interface, this little-ish yellow box has become my go-to tool for day to day work around campus when I’m not chained to my desk.
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this review or compensated for it, nor do I specifically endorse Fluke Networks and their products. I’m just an end user sharing my experience and comparing it to the claims made by the vendor.
*The site lists this feature as new to version 2.0 and says “802.11ac support: discover, locate, and connect (at 802.11n rates or lower).” Misleading? Maybe. I haven’t tested it so I have no idea.