Can a network testing platform serve as a way to increase automation in related operations? Fluke Networks is trying to find out.
Two years ago, the company launched its cloud-based data reporting platform: LinkWare Live. That solution has proved quite popular and in July of this year, LinkWare Live hit 5 million test results uploaded. It gets about half a million new results uploaded each month and currently has about 8 million results, according to Arvind Dutta, global product manager for Linkware Live.
Now, Fluke is looking to developers to extend the utility of LinkWare Live. In October, Fluke announced that LinkWare Live has an open API and started an affiliate program, so that its data for project management, network design and installation information from the field can be utilized in other, related applications.
The capability for cloud-based reporting of data from the field is on the increase in the network test space, as a way to reduce test time, increase automation to reduce testing errors and avoid repeat site visits or improper installation. Viavi Solutions, for instance, recently launched a new platform for real-time transfer of data from the field into analytics and optimization tools. Test company EXFO has also touted its cloud-based reporting platform.
Fluke, however, is taking a slightly different tack and looking for partners that could make LinkWare Live more of a vertical solution across a number of horizonal offerings in enterprise network installation and in data centers, Dutta said. In the construction industry, for instance, he said that there are a number of applications that are designed for construction contractor work flow, design and other processes — and the opportunity that Fluke sees is for Linkware Live to be a platform, and its testers to be devices, that provide access and information for those other applications.
The first three partners to utilize Linkware Live are all printing companies: Brother, Dymo and Epson. Why printing companies? Because all three make portable printers that are utilized in labeling the complex networks of communications cables within businesses and data centers, and accurate labeling is animportant part of installation, testing and maintenance.
“We saw that there was a lot of synergy in what the labelers are trying to do, and what we’re trying to do,” said Mark Mullins, global communications manager for Fluke Networks.
Dutta said that the open API is a first step toward broader support for applications that making contractor workflow more streamlined and automated. Data from the platform could also eventually prove to be useful to cabling companies themselves, Mullins added, because it could provide information on how specific products are actually used in the field and gain insights into regional trends in network needs.
“We envision LinkWare Live to be a platform where a contractor beings his day and ends his day,” Dutta said.
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