When companies prepare to roll out 802.11n upgrades to support more demanding applications like VoFi multimedia streaming, they will require more capable and accurate WLAN planning tools. With its new 5.0 Survey/Planner offering, AirMagnet hopes to facilitate those forklift upgrades.
“As wireless LANs become increasingly strategic to enterprises, the need to accurately plan, deploy, and troubleshoot networks increases exponentially,” said Chris Roeckl, AirMagnet VP of marketing. “Competitive products fail to live up to what we can deliver with the new capabilities in AirMagnet Survey and AirMagnet Planner.”
Two sides of the coin
AirMagnet’s Survey and Planner products are available separately or as a tightly integrated duo.
AirMagnet Planner 5.0 is designed to take the guesswork out of WLAN design and installation. This tool combines building material and structural (e.g., wall, door, window) information with AP configuration and antenna data to generate a reliable predictive map of WLAN performance. Planner 5.0 includes a new automated WLAN modeling tool—Planner Advisor—to optimize AP placement on site maps, based on specified coverage requirements.
AirMagnet Survey 5.0 merges live 802.11 and RF spectrum readings, collected passively and/or actively. This system then merges readings to generate detailed WLAN performance maps. Survey 5.0 enhancements include Diff View (side-by-side comparison of two surveys to spot changes over time), RF Spectrum Heat Maps (visualizing physical layer interference before it affects WLAN performance), and Station Location (locating any unauthorized or performance-intensive station on a survey map). Also new in 5.0: automatically grouping virtual APs associated with Cisco and Aruba WLANs, and simulating how different wireless adapters would behave at a surveyed location.
Taking the voodoo out of WLAN planning
“Wireless signals are strongly influenced by the particular characteristics of each site, from wall construction to non-Wi-Fi interference, making site surveys essential to the successful and efficient deployment or expansion of wireless networks,” said Roeckl. Survey and Planner make it easier to identify signal coverage, throughput requirements, RF interference, and roaming behavior, letting companies make more informed decisions about WLAN equipment purchases, placement, and configuration.
Gartner estimates that 80 percent of enterprises are now revisiting their WLAN designs to cope with growing demands and external interference. Once the cost of design, installation, management, and maintenance are added, total cost of enterprise WLAN ownership is roughly double that of the basic infrastructure investment. Simplifying site surveys and predictive ‘what-if’ planning can go a long way toward reducing the total cost of WLAN ownership.
According to Greg Taylor, WLAN Services Lead at BT INS, an AirMagnet customer, “Conducting pre-deployment site planning and on-site surveys are critical to ensure predictable performance and reliability of Wireless LANs. AirMagnet Survey and Planner have helped our consultants maximize Wi-Fi coverage, optimize our clients’ networks and resolve any problems with minimal interference, as well as automating the entire process. AirMagnet products reduce our consultant’s time in the field and aid in the overall design of a Wireless LAN infrastructure.”
AirMagnet Survey 5.0 is priced at $1,995 for the standard edition and $3,695 for Survey PRO (expert advice, advanced reporting, and integrated spectrum analysis). Planner is available for $1,000 as an add-on for Survey customers, or for $2,000 as a stand-alone product.
AirMagnet customers with an active software support subscription can upgrade at no charge.