As someone who is deeply interested in Wi-Fi troubleshooting tools and practices, it was exciting to see the acquisition of Cape Networks by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company in the spotlight at Atmosphere 2018. Cape Networks manufactures and provides web-based services for client connection monitoring and in user experience. This gives you the ability to look at your network not from just the top down infrastructure view, but from the bottom up client perspective as well. It is finally easy to understand what network issues are being seen, where they are coming from, and when they are happening.
One of the most difficult things in network troubleshooting, especially in fickle wireless networks, is the ability to have someone or something onsite to collect the correct data so that you can synthesize it into meaningful troubleshooting methods. Cape Networks makes this an easy task and provides one of my favorite interfaces for viewing troubleshooting information. Instead of giving you bits, bytes, numbers, and raw data, it rolls everything up into easy-to-read metrics complete with happy and sad faces. This can make troubleshooting and "I didn’t find a problem" sources quick and easy.
The Cape Networks solution also allows you to place the sensors closer to the location where you are expecting the issues to arise. By providing a deployable device to enhance the collection of data, you can move and change the way you want to uncover issues. If you see an increase in problems from an area that is now experiencing higher user traffic, it takes no time at all to deploy a new Cape Networks sensor to that area and start collecting data to feed into the analytics system.
There are a few reasons that this acquisition is exciting. First of all, knowing what Cape Networks has already done and coupling it with the power and development resources of Aruba means that it can quickly blast off from its already amazing market leadership. The possibilities for future tools, services, and capabilities have never been better or more within reach.
Secondly, the introduction of NetInsight by Aruba gives Cape Networks a future platform to build on. The combination of intelligence switching, the client fingerprinting used for troubleshooting and intelligence through Rasa, and the client-side RF monitoring and information of Cape is going to bring about an enormous level of visibility into wired and wireless networking. The intelligence offered by the platform also allows administrators and decision makers to quickly make determinations about issues and performance levels and give instant feedback about conditions.
Finally, Cape Networks is ready to usher in a whole new level of network performance monitoring and troubleshooting. While we are not yet at a point where we can have devices that automatically fix problems, this is a step in that direction. Understanding what is affecting the user experience and what the symptoms are can give us all a better way to review the processes and procedures that are commonplace and reflect proper wireless network design. By identifying where the problems are occurring more frequently, this will ultimately help us in the way that we deploy and engineer wireless networks.
Self-healing, automated, self-sustaining networks are not too far in the future. With this acquisition of Cape Networks and the ability for the network to take into account the client experience, this is definitely a step Aruba has taken in the right direction.