In my previous blog entry, I gave a history lesson on the rise and
fall of the NetGen Empire, and why being acquired by NetScout won’t
help either of them. Although there are many reasons why this will be
the case, a glaring lack of APIs and extensibility, an area near and
dear to me as a Developer Evangelist, is an obvious one.
In sharp contrast to the closed box mentality of the NetScout and
Network General applications, is WildPackets’ OmniPeek product line.
WildPackets continues to innovate with major new releases, each one
improving on every aspect of the technology, including the gorgeous
user interface. With the most recent release of the OmniPeek 5.0
product line, WildPackets became the first vendor to offer 802.11n
wireless analysis. This is huge, and nobody else has it.
As a solution, the OmniPeek product line has API’s coming out of its
ears, a developer network with 3000 members, a developer website with
all kinds of useful extensions and source code, and a full-time
Developer Evangelist and Custom Engineering Team. The plug-ins and
source code on the WildPackets Developer Network, also known as the
WPDN, are free to maintenance customers.
As the needs of WildPackets’™ customers change, the API’s allow the
products to be extended to meet those needs. Two examples of this are
automation and analysis. Many companies use OmniPeek to test their own
products, which they do over and over again. With WildPackets API’s,
the analysis on the back-end can be developed as plug-ins, and the
tests themselves can be automated through API’s on the front-end.
These API’s have allowed WildPackets to integrate and partner with
other vendors like Cisco, Aruba, and AirTight. These companies offer
Access Points and Probes that can be used by OmniPeek to collect
packets from different channels of the wireless network. What’s more,
the API’s allow packets from multiple probes to be aggregated in
real-time into a single capture. This solution, called Multi-Channel
Analysis (MCA), allows engineers to perform roaming analysis and other
types of analysis across channels. This measurement, up till now, has
been a laborious and time consuming task that wireless engineers have
performed by hand.
And the list of integration partners goes on and on, particularly in
the area of wireless cards, where OmniPeek has more support for
different wireless cards than any other vendor.
The most famous and innovative example of integration is the Google
Map Plug-in, which maps the IP addresses captured by OmniPeek into the
Google Map. However, the biggest demand is for application layer
viewers for email, instant messaging, web pages, and so on. The APIâ€™s
make it possible for WildPackets to keep up with the application layer
viewing needs of its customers without changing the core product.
To aid the developer community in the creation of plug-ins for the
OmniPeek product line, WildPackets has developed a Plug-in Wizard that
integrates with Microsoft Developer Studio. This wizard generates
plug-ins, with source code, allowing the developer to quickly create
plug-ins, over and over again. This makes rapid prototyping and
development of custom solutions easy and cheap.
Although scripting and plug-ins are the two primary ways to extend
OmniPeek, other API’s are available as well, and I will be talking
about them in the future.