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Network Analysis: Tool Calibration

I cringe when I see network analysts download some software, install it on their laptop and run off to fight a fire. The worst-case scenario is you take what you believe to be good data and spend some time spinning your wheels. The best-case scenario is that you get a feeling that the data doesn’t look right and figure out early in the troubleshooting process that you need another tool.

This is why I often talk about the need for network analysis tool calibration. It’s important to use tools to baseline other tools. I’m always careful how I discuss this issue because some people take it the wrong way and think I’m slamming their favorite laptop or software tool. I find myself repeating the same message: “You need to know your tools’ limits.”



In this video, I use packet loss and two other criteria to illustrate that just because your Ethernet connection says “1Gb” there’s no guarantee that you will receive all the frames, nor are they guaranteed to have the correct timings. I set up two Fluke Networks OptiView XG network analysis tablets, my laptop with Wireshark, my USB docking station, and a Profitap traffic capture appliance to see how they fare.

In my 20+ years in the field, I’ve met some pretty sharp analysts who totally understand the need for tool calibration and have gone the extra mile by creating a dual-boot environment for their work PC or having a dedicated support computer that no one is allowed to mess with.

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