Wireless networks used to be simply for convenience, but thanks to today's IT organizations, they can drive high performance applications critical to businesses, or in the case of medical facilities, deliver life-saving information to doctors, nurses, and healthcare applications. The explosive growth of tablets, Netbooks, and other mobile devices has driven the demand for Wi-Fi service even further as these BYODs (Bring Your Own Devices) are brought into the workplace and expect service.

In the old days, the wireless network was only used in focused locations for a few data-based applications. Now, these devices demand voice, video, and data services - on the move. To meet these demands, some wireless environments are requiring complete overhauls to deliver thorough wireless signal coverage and high quality connectivity at high speeds, without sacrificing security. It used to be that supporting new users only required adding new access points. That is no longer the case. Since the wireless user of today requires more bandwidth for high performance, business critical applications, in addition to voice and video, signal quality as well as complete coverage is critical.

What's Trending?

If they don't have one already, IT organizations will soon be required to have a wireless network engineer. Since the Wireless network is now a business critical service, it requires monitoring, analysis and troubleshooting skills specific to Wi-Fi. In many environments, engineers have only been concerned with signal coverage - a well covered area was the goal, and enough to provide acceptable service. This is no longer the case.

To support voice, video, and high performance business apps, we need good quality as well, which requires low interference, correct channel planning, and understanding of Spectrum Analysis to locate interferers. Businesses may also be required to enforce wireless usage policies affecting tablets and smartphones, as these will continue their steady increase in the workplace. Due to the fact that most tablet and smartphone devices have lower-power radios than their full-power laptop counterparts, poor signal coverage and quality will have a greater impact on them, requiring a more robust WiFi environment. Additionally, the need for security within a wireless network is a must. Being able to detect and block attacks before they infect the network is a must have.

Key Considerations

In a home network we simply buy an 802.11n router and plug it in. This doesn't work in a business environment. The implications of migrating to 802.11n, along with all the interference and channel considerations should be thoroughly understood. Mobile devices have lower-power radios than traditional laptop radios, so these will require more signal coverage in order to have a similar performance experience. Additionally, mobile devices allow a new pathway into the network environment for hackers, as these can be compromised to allow a backdoor around security mechanisms. These threats need to be understood and mitigated through use policies and constant site scans. The increase in access points to support mobile users can put a greater load on the infrastructure cabling. In addition to user data, these cables carry the power which drives these infrastructure devices. Legacy cable may not be ready for the increased load in both data and power.

Best Practices

Businesses today should be preparing for the steady influx of bandwidth-hungry mobile devices. To do so, a complete site survey should be conducted before adding additional access points. Watch for more than just signal coverage. Identify areas where throughput is low, where channels overlap and cause interference, and where interferers are located.

A spectrum analysis tool should be used to identify and locate interferers including microwave ovens, BlueTooth devices, cordless phones, security cameras, and other unexpected devices. Security assessments are critical in Wi-Fi environments, and should be conducted regularly. Companies should consider a WIPS/WIDS solution to protect the network as well as using guest SSID's to support tablets and other mobile devices, thus protecting business applications from the casual user and from hackers who could compromise them.

When users have problems connecting to the wireless environment, or when performance is slow, handheld tools are needed to validate and troubleshoot these problems. Built-in features in these tools should bring simplicity in a complex wireless environment, allowing network technicians to resolve problems without needing expert-level experience in wireless systems.

 

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Today’s networks are in a constant state of evolution. Infrastructure expansion plus deployment of new technologies provides ongoing challenges for network professionals. With the right tool, more of the team can solve issues faster and with less frustration.

Fluke Networks’ family of products were designed to do just that. Let us help guide you to a solution.

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Related Resources

Fluke Networks provides many resources to help our customers solve (WiFi Analysis & Troubleshooting) challenges. Some require a simple registration. See a complete listing of webcasts, white papers and application notes for other topics.

Webinars:

Tired of Walking the Floor? Survey in Half the Time
Industry best practices consider site surveys as a mandatory and vital part of the wireless LAN deployment process for achieving the desired security, performance and compliance for the WLAN. Site surveys are also critical for optimizing the network as new users are introduced, new applications are introduced over the WLAN and new technologies are introduced such as 802.11n.
How to Perform a WLAN Voice Survey?
In this webinar, we'll explain how to perform a site survey for designing a wireless LAN that supports wireless IP phones with examples from actual projects using AirMagnet Survey.
Best Practices for Identifying and Diagnosing WLAN Interference Problems
Learn how to make the most of the AirMagnet Spectrum XT solution to understand and mitigate interference issues that affect the wireless LAN. This webcast will discuss the types of interference sources that wreak havoc on a Wi-Fi network, review spectrum analysis techniques used to detect and remediate the root causes of interference and demonstrate and discuss best practices in the creation of custom signatures for interference sources that are unique to your environment.
RF Fundamentals
Ever troubleshoot your wireless network and feel like you are in the dark or moving in a fog? Perhaps a quick refresher on the Fundamentals of RF, specifically designed for Wireless Admins, could shed some light on the problem. We'll share baseline concepts you need to know about RF and wireless networks and he will highlight information that you should find useful the next time you're troubleshooting your network.

 

Whitepapers:

Bringing BYODs into the fold
Employees want to bring their own Wi-Fi enabled smart devices into the workplace, and businesses have much to gain by embracing the BYOD trend. In this paper, we show how factoring smart devices – including BYODs – into the full WLAN lifecycle can fill this gap, avoiding costly problems and simplifying trouble resolution.
Overlay vs. Integrated Wireless Security
This paper looks at the pros and cons of different approaches to wireless intrusion prevention systems (WIPS). There are a few different ways to deploy monitoring systems that scan the airwaves for unauthorized devices and intrusion attempts. Each approach has its merits. It's up to the enterprise IT department to understand the tradeoffs so it can appropriately balance the organization's risk profile, depth of security required and budget as it builds an effective, comprehensive wireless security strategy.
Shifting the Troubleshooting Paradigm
Even as reliability is built into networks, IT organizations are under pressure to reduce troubleshooting time and close tickets faster. This new whitepaper from Fluke Networks outlines the shifting paradigm in network problem solving.
802.11n Primer
802.11a,b,g,n Compatibility

 

Product Demos:

AirMagnet Enterprise v10
Request a Webex demo and we can provide a product tour in about 30-45 minutes over the web. Request to test drive AirMagnet Enterprise and we will provide you with two purpose-built AirMagnet Enterprise Sensors and trial software to use in your environment.
AirMagnet Survey
Download a trial version of AirMagnet Survey Pro.
AirMagnet Wifi Analyzer
Download a trial version of AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer
AirMagnet Spectrum XT
Download a trial version of AirMagnet Spectrum XT
AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer
Download a trial version of AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer
AirMedic® USB
Download a trial version of AirMagnet AirMedic
OptiView® XG ClearSight Analyzer
Download ClearSight Analyzer for Optiview XG for protocol analysis.
OneTouch™ AT
Register for a risk-free 5 day trial of OneTouch AT
AirCheck
Register for a risk-free 5 day trial of AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester
AirMagnet AirMapper™ App
Download a free version of AirMagnet AirMapper

 

Case Studies:

Jordan School District
Jordan School District, located in West Jordan, Utah, needed to gain complete visibility into the vast wireless network that is frequently inundated with outside devices, keep student and district employee information secure, and ensure network operates at peak performance levels.
BlueSafe
BlueSafe is one of the premier Wi-Fi system integrators in France. They help organizations achieve unified mobility by planning, deploying and managing wireless networks that meet business requirements for connectivity, application performance and security. To do this successfully, the company not only requires a set of solutions for accurately planning and deploying wireless networks, but that also enables the team to quickly troubleshoot, secure and monitor the wireless network.
InnerWireless
InnerWireless enables in-building wireless communication for healthcare, government, hospitality and other Fortune 500 organizations across North America. Their challenge was to ensure optimum performance when deploying and maintaining large, complex, mission-critical in-building wireless networks as well as assessing existing customer solutions, validate new wireless deployments, review, support, and troubleshoot deployed solutions.
Martinez Police Department
The 39-member Police Department for the City of Martinez, California, is a medium-sized unit by national standards, often having to make do with smaller teams and fewer resources than some of their larger metropolitan brethren. With electronic crime growing in popularity and sophistication, law enforcement agencies require the latest tools to stay one step ahead of criminals. The Police Department in Martinez, CA is no exception, and was looking for a compact, rugged, cost-effective and simple tool to use in the field – a tool like the AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester from Fluke Networks.
Hospira
Hospira, Inc. is a global specialty pharmaceutical and medication delivery company that manufactures both general-purpose infusion pumps, sometimes known as smart pumps, and patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps. With diverse hospital customers spread across North America, providing wireless connectivity for critical medical equipment is literally a life and death matter for Hospira. In addition, the company also has an R&D test facility that has been purposely engineered to represent a hostile network environment, allowing teams to push their solutions to the limit with real-world threats and conditions. Because of this, the company wanted a tool that was fast, efficient and incredibly easy to use for testing wireless connectivity.
Cerner Corporation
Cerner is one of the world’s leading suppliers of healthcare information technologies for hospitals and clinics. Their biggest challenge is designing and deploying wireless patient care networks for hospitals and clinics around the world

 

Product Video:

AirCheck™
AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester - wireless troubleshooting made simple
Troubleshooting both sides of the access point
Troubleshooting Both Sides of an Access Point using Optiview XG