We all know and love WiFi. Some of us probably love it so much that we can’t imagine living without it. That doesn’t mean that we always understand it, though, or that it always does exactly what we want it to. After all, how many times have you or a coworker complained about WiFi speed or an application’s performance? Or what about end of the year capacity planning when suddenly everyone needs to know exactly how the WiFi performed over the last 12 months? Who has the answers?
Onsite IT teams are knowledgeable resources and the perfect place to turn. However, even they need help gathering analytics and identifying the source of issues in real-time. That’s where WiFi Automation comes in. These platforms, like Wyebot’s Wireless Intelligence Platform (WIP), automate the monitoring of the wireless network, delivering valuable data insights 24/7. See the below questions and answers for just a few ways in which these platforms make a significant difference.
Did we install the right number of Access Points (APs) in the right places?
Not all APs are the same, just as not all businesses are the same. Think about the differences between an outdoor arena, a massive warehouse, a stand-alone office, and a skyscraper with a different company on every floor. Each workspace’s WiFi challenges and needs are going to be incredibly different. If end users are reporting poor WiFi experience, the issue could be with the APs themselves.
WIP measures three main areas to evaluate network performance: RF interference, infrastructure performance, and end user experience. The platform can be placed anywhere that users actually work – for example, near the floor, rather than 60 feet away in a warehouse ceiling. This is important, because when the platform connects to the network as an end user device to run network tests, its results exactly replicate end users’ experiences. The network tests can be scheduled to run as often as every ten minutes, consistently providing IT teams with the data that they need to identify any issues with the WiFi ecosystem.
IT can focus on other mission responsibilities, confident that WIP will automatically alert teams to any failed tests.
Is it time to upgrade APs?
Just like our laptops, tablets, and other devices, APs are not designed to last forever. They are typically replaced every three, five, or seven years. Perhaps a company planned to replace their APs after five years, but then there are new budget constraints. How to tell if the APs will continue to perform optimally, meeting office needs for another year or two?
IT teams can run diagnostics on the health of the AP using their laptop, but there are two problems here. One, it requires the laptop to be in the range of the AP – difficult, if not impossible depending on where an AP is installed (i.e. different physical location) – and two, the most complete insight into an AP’s health requires at least 24/7 uninterrupted monitoring. Nobody in IT has the time to spend all day, next to their laptop, recording AP data.
WIP automatically stores historical data, providing graphs with health and performance trends over time for APs, client distribution, and airtime and client utilization. These graphs provide a quick visualization of exactly how the network as a whole has changed over time, as well as information on specific devices. It is a great support for budget and capacity planning.
Why is this specific problem recurring only during the morning hours?
Many network problems are intermittent. This makes it difficult to identify the root cause, unless IT can spend hours or even days closely monitoring the network, analyzing thousands of data packets every second. As if this wasn’t difficult enough, what if the root cause lies outside the core wireless network?
Wyebot has identified hotspots in employee cars as the root cause of interference, as well as microwaves, motion sensor lights, and other non-WiFi objects. If an analytics platform solely monitors the core wireless network, it won’t help IT in these cases.
With WiFi Automation monitoring the entire RF environment 24/7, IT gets the answers they need when they need them. With its AI-engine and machine learning, WIP recognizes normal network behavior and alerts IT to any changes in that behavior. This includes identifying patterns, such as repeated interference at 8:45 a.m. that could ultimately be traced back to something as unsuspecting as an employee car with its own WiFi network arriving and impacting the office’s network.
Why is this application running slowly?
This question actually represents a whole host of questions that could be filed under the complaint, “The WiFi isn’t working.” As anyone in IT knows, the problem hardly ever lies with the WiFi, but because the problem can lie almost anywhere within the network, it isn’t always easy to identify.
WiFi Automation makes it much easier, and thereby drastically reduces both the Mean-Time-to-Innocence and the Mean-Time-to-Resolution (MTTR).
Let’s start with Innocence first. On a basic level, network administrators need to know if the network is responsible for the issue or if it isn’t. If it isn’t, there could be an issue with the device or with the Internet provider. The sooner the network is ruled out, or declared innocent, the sooner a resolution will be developed and implemented. Because WIP monitors the network 24/7, measures the RF environment and infrastructure performance, and automatically generates easy to understand analytics, network admins can know at a glance if the network is behind a reported WiFi issue.
Additionally, when WIP recognizes a network issue and automatically reports it, the platform includes the possible root cause and suggested actions for resolution with the report. Thanks to its insights, WIP reduces the MTTR by up to 90%.
The Easier Path to Network Optimization
As more and more devices join the WiFi network, identifying the root cause of issues, as well as identifying individual device’s degrading health, becomes an increasingly complicated responsibility. With anywhere from 500 to 50,000+ devices to monitor, let alone the RF environment and infrastructure, WiFi Automation is the best and most cost-effective solution for scaling IT departments.
Use WiFi Automation platforms like the Wireless Intelligence Platform to eliminate WiFi worries, improve operational efficiency, and save money. Get all your WiFi operation questions answered with WIP today.