Bridging connectivity gaps
Maturing wireless bridges are poised to challenge costly, slow-to-deploy WANsFollow @infoworld
For dedicated network managers, Adtran doesn’t stop there. Customers also get access to a special section of Adtran’s Web site, which contains a number of interesting tools. Customers get access to Adtran’s virtual lab, where they can take Telnet-based control of running hardware in Adtran’s labs. This allows customers to take Adtran equipment for a test drive over the Web — no canned demo, but actual working equipment. The company also provides downloadable link-analyzer software, which allows owners of Adtran equipment to perform tasks such as intelligent traffic analysis for diagnostic or capacity-planning purposes.
Although we’d love to see a gigabit-capable version of the Tracer, we were plenty impressed with the series’ combination of a low price and a five-minute setup easy enough for any IT manager. Both Adtran Tracers impressed us as solid options for site-to-site connectivity, with the 5045 being an excellent fixed-throughput option and the 6420 providing flexibility for organizations with independent needs.
Canon Canobeam DT-110
Canon almost didn’t manage to play in our shoot-out. Not only were they the last company to accept the invitation, but they were also the only company not to send hardware engineers to ensure a successful test. In Canon’s favor, however, this posed no problem for the DT-110, a member of Canon’s Canobeam DT-100 family; it managed all of our tests with aplomb.
On the LAN side, this system acts like a fiber-optic pipe. Different models within the DT-100 family accept a wide variety of signals, including 25Mbps for old-style ATM connections, 155Mbps for ATM OC-3, 100Mbps for Ethernet, and 1.25Gbps for Gigabit Ethernet. Even sweeter, though the DT-110 is a laser-based unit, it did not require us to convert speeds or protocols as the LightPointe product did. We simply plugged it in and were off and running.
The Canobeam was also the only laser in our roundup able to shoot through our double-paned, energy-efficient glass. In fact, we had to downshift the laser from full-power mode to low-power mode to avoid overwhelming the optics, which says a lot about this unit’s potential flexibility.
As far as the lasers went, Canobeam also had the best alignment system we saw. Canon touts this feature as one of Canobeam’s major draws. Each tripod is equipped with small vernier controls, which made slight adjustments really easy. So initial alignment of the two lasers was a quick process. Once we had a few bars indicating a proximity signal, we just hit the Auto Tracking button and the signal strength jumped.
The fragile nature of optic-signal alignment makes the Auto Tracking feature particularly compelling. Bad weather, wind, or even an animal deciding to perch on the equipment can misalign an optic connection badly enough to require recalibration. The DT-110’s Auto Tracking feature, however, is in constant mode, meaning the connection is always confirming its own integrity. The only limitation is that the Canobeam has a restricted range for all this ease of use, forcing us to stay within 2 kilometers for Auto Tracking to work.
Our wish list for the Canobeam starts with a dedicated management package. Other products in this test provided their own Web-based management pages and even their own spectrum analyzers. The Canobeam supports SNMP for monitoring and can be monitored or even reconfigured using Telnet, and you can download diagnostic logs to management workstations as well, but this requires a manual FTP operation.