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Vertex and Octobox, Together at Last


Not a celebrity power couple, but a union that recognizes we need a better way to simplify network assurance in an increasingly complex world.

The advancement of technology has done great things for society. Today, innovations from autonomous vehicles to advanced pacemakers rely on more than microprocessors and software but the underlying network that seamlessly connects everything together. Yet issues with connectivity – from poor latency to instability under certain scenarios - can have a massive impact on the viability of many critical use cases. For both device manufacturers and service providers, network assurance testing is of paramount importance – but it’s a task that is becoming increasingly complex due to the highly varied array of network types and usage scenarios that must be validated.

This need to simplify and improve these assurance processes is one of the reasons why Spirent and octoScope became a single company last March. Everybody in the industry knows that Octobox is a leading testbed for automated validation of Wi-Fi networks and devices. Even when we were rivals, from an engineer’s standpoint, we could not help admiring the compact yet stackable approach that made it easy to create a robust testbed suited to a wide variety of scenarios.

However, as Spirent, before we joined forces, we still had many joint customers that needed to perform more specialist assurance scenarios that were not well suited to Octobox. Especially for granular channel emulation or for use cases where complex mobility was involved. For these customers, it meant potentially setting up dual test beds running Spirent and Octobox products for very different workloads. This also required integrating these disparate solutions and then trying to tie the data together into a coherent set of results. Not an impossible task but far from ideal.

Two heads...

In a world getting more complex, this highlights one of the fundamental benefits of our union – the ability to create new products that combine our expertise and technologies into a better overall solution. A coherent approach that is not only easier to use but also more suited to the diversity of use cases that we are all seeing across our modern society. It has been nearly a year of intense engineering work, but the first fruits of that vision have ripened. We are proud to announce the launch of an integrated solution that combines the modular nature of Octobox with Vertex, our channel emulator able to replicate the comprehensive noise and spatial conditions of even the most complex wireless channels.

In simple terms, we now have a solution that combines best in class traffic emulation, channel emulation and performance evaluation into an integrated platform. And this arrives at a time where we are seeing an explosion in new devices like wearables and industrial IoT along with a major shift due to the emergence of 5G that will spawn new use cases that will really push legacy testing methodologies. No matter the vertical market, we are all being forced to answer new questions: How will this device work on an airplane’s Wi-Fi network from take-off to landing? What happens if a medical device loses connection as it’s being moved between hospital wards? What impact will load have on network latency for a particular sensor used on a busy factory production line? Can an autonomous vehicle seamlessly move between 5G and Wi-Fi based control without incident? We could ask pages and pages of questions like these that need to be answered before innovation can go from the drawing board to real world application!

Keep it simple

There are literally hundreds of scenarios where the answers will not just impact physical product design, but also have a ripple effect on device placement and day-to-day operating procedures. Making it easier to simulate these scenarios, gain answers and then adapt to change is fundamentally important for everybody concerned with test and assurance.

Even with our integrated Octobox / Vertex solution now heading out into the field for real world use, this ongoing strategy to overcome complexity will continue. Other ways in which we can integrate the best of octoScope and third-party technologies into better solutions continues within our R&D teams. It must, because we know that the world will always find new ways to blend technology and connectivity to create amazing ideas. Hopefully, we can equip the people who make sure these things work in the real world with the right tools to get this vital job done efficiently and accurately with simple-to-use platforms.

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Janne Linkola

Principal Product Manager

Janne Linkola is a principal product manager in Spirent’s Automated Test & Assurance business unit. Janne has spent most of his career at operators in various engineering and product development roles. He was a Fellow of Wireless Architecture at Altice USA leading their next generation Wi-Fi initiatives and worked for T-Mobile USA heading product development for Wi-Fi calling and other initiatives. Most recently, Janne worked as director of marketing at octoScope and joined the Spirent team as part of the octoScope acquisition. Janne has an MScEE from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland.