Love is in the Air: A story about OmniEngine ROI

A few years ago, I wrote a love story about the marriage of decoders, protospecs, and plug-ins.   Technically, it was a story about integration, but when the whole becomes so much greater than the sum of the parts, it becomes love.   Today, I have another love story to tell.    This one is about the marriage of automation and plug-ins for the OmniEngine, and the love here is so strong that I can smell it.   Yep, that’s right, love is in the air, and it smells like, well, it just smells really good.

So anyway, as I have been advertising lately, more and more customers and prospects are showing an interest in automating  OmniEngines with scripts, in test labs and other environments, particularly for wireless applications.   There is also an increased interest in developing plug-ins for the OmniEngine.   Up until now though, one of the limitations has been in the lack of a way to use scripts to automate captures on the OmniEngine, and configure settings in plug-ins running in those captures.    And that is where our love story begins.

Just recently, we completed a development for a customer  that coupled the ability to automate captures though scripts and capture templates, with the ability to configure plug-ins with options from those capture templates.   This marriage of the front-end automation capabilities, with the back-end plug-in capabilities is new and very powerful, and will enable many different ways to configure and use OmniEngines.

But you might say, “come on, how many people actually write automation scripts and
plug-ins?”.   I would say the question is not how many, but how big is the opportunity?     And not the opportunity to write scripts and plug-ins, but rather the opportunity to invest in an extensible network application platform that can be customized and extended to meet the diverse needs of any company that depends on the network to run their business.   It is about having all of the parts that can be put together and integrated in all kinds of different ways, creating solutions that satisfy many different customer requirements.

Of course, it is also about supporting these solutions, which is why we have a team of developers at WildPackets, called the Custom Engineering Group, who are dedicated to this, and are very good at working with customers who want to use these capabilities of the OmniEngine to achieve the highest level of ROI possible.

Now where was I?    Oh yes,  what we did for this customer was to port the Cisco AP Capture Adapter to the OmniEngine.   We did this for an automated test lab they are building that uses OmniEngines to capture and analyze traffic from new wireless devices.    Many of our customers are doing this, and the reasons are obvious.   Testing consists of repeating process over and over.   This can be time consuming and expensive for humans, but very cheap and practical when automated.

This customer is using the Cisco AP Capture Adapter, but there are many different adapters that can be used to capture with, for the wireless and wired traffic.   In fact, most customers use the Linksys WUB600N USB adapters .    Couple that with a USB Ethernet HUB from Belkin, and wow, the configuration possibilities are many and many.

In this case, the customer had already invested in the Cisco APs.    The  Cisco AP Capture Adapter is a plug-in adapter that receives packets from a Cisco AP and inserts them into a capture.   The problem was that the solution had to be automated through scripts, and the Cisco AP Capture Adapter needed to be configured with the port to listen on, and the IP address of the AP to accept packets from.

To address this limitation, we enhanced the OmniScript automation library so that it can pass options from the script to the adapter plug-in.   This was the missing link which, when addressed, completed the front 2 back automation solution for them.  With the ability to set options in the plug-in through their scripts, they are able to fully automate their test lab deployment.   They still have work to do, but my understanding is at this point they have it working, are quite pleased.

Now is that love or what?   I think so, and I enjoyed being a part of it.   But the real story here is the opportunity for others to take advantage of and benefit from this type of front 2 back integration going forward.   The new version of OmniScript has been posted to MyPeek, along with the Cisco AP Capture Adapter for the OmniEngine.    Over the course of this year, we are also developing a number of new plug-ins that will use this capability.

That is the end of the story, but while I have your ear, there is another angle to this story that may help to shed light on what is happening here.    Recently, we released a new version of the OmniEngine Plug-in Wizard to MyPeek.   This version of the Plug-in Wizard generates a plug-in with sample code that OmniPeek can use to create a capture template with plug-in options.   The resulting capture template can be used by a script to create a capture and configure the settings of the plug-in.   Wow, how cool is that?   We now have a wizard which creates sample code demonstrating all of this wonderful integration. This is yet another piece of the puzzle falling into place.

So there you have it.   With the WildPackets OmniEngine, and some tightly integrated tools for  automation and plug-ins, the possibilities are endless.


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