The 5 Stages of the Wi-Fi Lifecycle
The Wi-Fi Lifecycle: Definition, Examples and How to Improve Performance at Every Stage
Managing the lifecycle of an enterprise wireless network is a continuous process; it is not set it and forget it. No matter where you are in the lifecycle, Ekahau Connect includes intuitive and powerful Wi-Fi tools to help you manage every stage — from design and validation to optimization and troubleshooting.
What is the Wi-Fi Lifecycle?
The Wi-Fi lifecycle encompasses all of the stages you typically see with deploying and managing a healthy wireless network; it includes initial predictive design through validation and into ongoing network optimizations, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Understanding the stages and equipping yourself with the right tools can help you increase reliability and performance for your network.
Download the Wi-Fi Lifecycle Infographic
The 5 Stages of the Wi-Fi Lifecycle
Wi-Fi design is the ability to translate network requirements into a high-performing reliable network for your business. In order to meet or exceed business-critical applications, Wi-Fi needs to be well designed and not just deployed. Whether you are designing a greenfield or brownfield network, design is the first step in your Wi-Fi network lifecycle.
To start your design, you’ll first work with project stakeholders to gather requirements, taking into account information about the location’s layout, building materials, network infrastructure, devices that will be on the network, application, and sometimes even aesthetics. Some of this information is not always readily available, and in those instances you have to use your expertise to make estimations.
Once requirements have been established and agreed upon by the project stakeholders, you can start your predictive design. Predictive designs are done in modeling software that allows you to import your floor plan and define the environment. In the software, you can simulate walls and other barriers, input coverage/capacity requirements and plot your access point (AP) placement.
But remember: junk in, junk out. Your design will only be as good as the information you input into the software. If you know you need to design for 100 HD video streaming laptops but don’t define that, chances are your network will not be up to meeting the requirement.
Ekahau Connect for Wi-Fi Design
Ekahau Pro is the industry-standard software for designing Wi-Fi networks. Using an ultra-fast and accurate 3D propagation engine, Pro allows you to accurately design a high-capacity network based on your requirements. Create effortless designs using built-in guidelines from Cisco, Aruba, Mist, Polycom, Vocera and other vendors to simplify complex RF environments such as multi-floor buildings, warehouses, convention centers, and outdoor areas. Pro makes it easy to determine the optimal number and location of APs, avoid co-channel interference and predict how your Wi-Fi network will perform before ever going onsite.
If you’re ever unsure of a wall material, you can easily test attenuation onsite using the Ekahau Survey mobile app and Ekahau Sidekick to capture pre-design measurements for a highly accurate model of your environment. The accuracy of the Sidekick gives you the confidence that your design will be accurate as well. Simply lock your Sidekick to one channel, measure on both sides of the wall, and now you have your attenuation measurement.
Ekahau Cloud allows you to share your design and survey results with your team to enjoy seamless collaboration between central office and field sites, and make project sharing with your entire team simple and easy.
Like all design, Wi-Fi design is an iterative process, so once you have completed your predictive design, you need to validate it. The most common method of design validation is performing an AP on a Stick (APoS) survey. By staging APs in the locations previously identified, you’re able to validate things like AP placements, channel utilization, capacity, coverage, RF in the environment, etc., to ensure that your design is performing as predicted. You’re also able to verify that variables like alterations to wall materials or other undisclosed sources of interference will be identified to ensure your design meets your network requirements.
Validating your design is critical to a successful network deployment. Staging the APs and any external antennas can help reveal any potential fine-tuning needed for your design before running the final cabling and installing the APs. The validation phase is the “measure twice, cut once” phase of the Wi-Fi lifecycle and helps you mitigate the risk of costly redesign, rewiring and reinstallation after the APs have been deployed.
The validation stage of the Wi-Fi lifecycle also includes post-deployment validation once the network equipment has been installed and configured correctly. Late-stage validation provides an additional opportunity to survey the site and ensure the design meets the necessary requirements and provides the highest level of performance for the network users.
Ekahau Connect for Wi-Fi Validation
Use the Survey mobile app along with your Sidekick to conduct pre- and post-installation validation surveys. By leveraging the power of the Sidekick, you’ll be able to get a more accurate understanding of how your APoS or post-implementation design is behaving. Survey transforms your smartphone or tablet into a light-weight survey tool providing you full freedom of movement and enhanced safety. Analyze the results of your survey with Pro and make any necessary adjustments to meet your requirements. You will be able to simulate the changes in AP configurations and placements and view the notes you made during your survey. Just make sure to validate your design again after making adjustments to ensure your network is now performing as predicted.
Share your results via Cloud with multiple people in the field who can now work concurrently on the same project while critical data can be quickly shared with the Wi-Fi expert managing the project.
Now your Wi-Fi is perfect, and you can go home, right? Not so fast! Wi-Fi optimization is the ongoing monitoring and maintenance required for a high-performing reliable wireless network. For many networks, the optimization phase is the longest in duration as the network is continuously tweaked to account for changes in usage levels and number of client devices, or changes in the physical environment such as fluctuating inventory levels in warehouses or changes to office space layouts.
Wi-Fi optimizations can be proactive to account for known changes or reactive as a result of troubleshooting user-reported issues. Regularly performing an RF survey of your network will provide the valuable data needed to make smart Wi-Fi adjustments, and the process of performing regular health check surveys, troubleshooting issues and implementing fixes will give you a high-performing network that will last. That is, until you receive a requirement change that you can no longer support with your current design, you simply outgrow the current design, or you move.
Ekahau Connect for Optimizing Wi-Fi
Regular network monitoring utilizing Survey and Sidekick ensures reliable Wi-Fi operation and allows you to address potential issues before they arise. Pro’s numerous heat map visualizations let you do in-depth analysis of survey results to optimize network settings and Ekahau Analyzer allows for quick, on-the-spot validation of the network health and performance.
If you manage multiple networks across multiple locations or you’re limited by travel or time, remote collaboration with Ekahau Cloud makes it easy for just about anyone onsite to survey the physical location and upload data for more experienced Wi-Fi professionals to analyze and implement optimizations.
Oftentimes, you don’t even know there is a network issue or Wi-Fi outage until the help desk tickets start rolling in. Time is precious and every second counts when troubleshooting your network.Troubleshooting can be a high-stress phase of the Wi-Fi lifecycle, but with the right tools you can implement a fix and be back to the optimization phase.
A spectrum analyzer is critical in the troubleshooting process. It records and measures the strength (power/energy) of both Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi traffic that exists in your network environment. This allows you to quickly identify potential interferers such as wireless cameras, cordless phones, or other wireless devices. In addition, a spectrum analyzer can show the channel of measured traffic, allowing you to optimize your network channels for peak performance while avoiding interference.
Ekahau Connect for Troubleshooting Wi-Fi
- Ekahau Pro
- Ekahau Sidekick
- Ekahau Survey mobile app
- Ekahau Analyzer mobile app
- Ekahau Capture
- Ekahau Cloud
When users report problems, troubleshooting with Ekahau tools is quick and easy. Onsite staff can fire up the Analyzer mobile app and Sidekick to identify potential issues and interference sources. The intuitive dashboard provides a quick view of network health, detecting primary and secondary signal strength, Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), channel, connectivity, spectrum throughput, data rates, and possible interferences. Click on any of the results to drill down into the requirement details to provide actionable data. With the information presented, you can quickly identify all APs in your location, Service Set Identifier (SSID), connected devices, and roaming capabilities.
Remote collaboration with Ekahau Connect is also great for troubleshooting networks. Autopilot mode in Survey automatically tracks your path which makes it easy for non-Wi-Fi experts to gather measurements in areas where users are experiencing issues. The measured data can then be relayed back to the Wi-Fi expert for analysis.
Ekahau Capture along with Sidekick allows anyone to easily collect Wi-Fi packets in order to detect complex problems. For example, a simultaneous dual-channel packet capture diagnoses difficult problems, such as roaming between APs.
5. Design (Again?)
Sometimes network requirements change, leaving your network performance lacking, or company growth exceeds what your network can accommodate. This leads to a new design, or upgrade for your network. But good news! The process is the same, gather your requirements, design, validate and optimize your network!
Throughout the lifecycle management process, Ekahau Connect enables seamless collaboration across teams, onsite staff and remote experts. From the advanced design features of Pro to the easy-to-use mobile Survey and Analyzer apps and the sheer accuracy of the Sidekick, Connect includes all of the tools you need to build and maintain a high-performing wireless network across every stage of the Wi-Fi lifecycle.
Source: Ekahau Blog
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.