Fluke delivers new gigabit analyzer products

Everett, Wash.-based Fluke Networks entered the gigabit Ethernet analyzer market in December with the launch of its Gigabit Distributed Vision Suite (GDVS).

In a market dominated by companies like Network Associates Inc. and Agilent Technologies Inc. (the Hewlett-Packard Co. spin-off), Fluke is a new entrant into the distributed analyzer market.

According to Brad Masterson, product manager for Fluke Networks at Fluke Electronics Canada LP in Mississauga, Ont., the Gigabit Distributed Vision Suite, as well as the Distributed Vision Suite (for 10/100Mbps architectures), is part of a network vision Fluke has formed, which centres around a theme of network supervision and analysis .

The GDVS, a member of the Distributed Vision Suite line of analyzers from Fluke, is a hardware and software product geared towards the higher end of the Ethernet spectrum.

One of the higher points of GDVS, according to Masterson, is the Protocol Inspector 3.0 and Network Inspector 4.1 software modules, which automatically discover information based on packets and queries to smart devices in the network. Results from Network Inspector can be printed, published to Web pages or brought into Microsoft Visio 2000 for network diagramming.

“It gives a full vision into the distributed environment of one of these networks by deploying probes and remote agents,” Masterson said.

The product can be set up to send alarms to network managers by e-mail or pager when certain events occur to bring their attention to the problem as quickly as possible, he added.

The hardware side of the analyzer features full duplex, full line rate, 10/100 Ethernet and gigabit version of the Distributed Vision Suite in self-contained rack-mounted units. An in-line tap allows network managers to monitor fibre or copper links non-intrusively, cutting down on the need to break and re-enable network connections each time a network segment is analyzed.

Vancouver-based RoundHeaven Communications Canada Inc. chose Fluke’s GDVS product after evaluating three analyzers, and found GDVS to be the most robust and precise of the tools available, said Alexander Shubenok, a senior network engineer at RoundHeaven. He said he also found Fluke’s GDVS to be the most expensive product, but the vendor’s flexible pricing policy allowed RoundHeaven to fit the tool into its budget.

Fluke’s biggest drawback is its newness to the distributed network analyzer market, said Paul Bugala, a research analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC) in Boston.

“I think it’s really important for Fluke to concentrate on its strengths, which involve maintaining the technological strengths of the parent company while trying to look as much like a networking company as possible,” Bugala said. “They’re taking both those steps with this product. And they’re using the distributed network management approach of both software- and hardware-based products and also keeping up with industry standard line rates like 10/100 and gigabit Ethernet environments.”

What is important for Fluke is to elevate the role of its network analyzer tool into the higher order of network performance management, so it integrates with the e-business itself, Bugala said.

The Gigabit Distributed Vision Suite is available now from Fluke sales channel partners. Pricing for the suite is $49,000. For more information, see the company on the Web at www.flukenetworks.com.