Good Wireless Network Support Requires a Solid Tool Strategy

By Lee Badman, Blog Contributor
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A Fool with a Tool is Still a Fool
It’s maddening to be at a WLAN site and find yourself answering to an executive who is walking around with an iPhone held up like a sacred oracle and have to fend off the conclusions made about the network based only on signal strength bars. Being armed with your own professional-quality wireless analysis tools and the confidence that comes from having mastered them is a huge asset when up against a self-declared expert – or well-meaning junior techs who perhaps don’t have the right tools.

The Cost of Doing Business
Whether you are involved with wireless design, installations and verification, general WLAN support or all of the above, there are quality tools available for every task. The key is to invest the money and learning time for what you need to be successful. Quality tools are the cost of doing business, yet not all job skill levels require the exact same tools.

For myself, I need a commercial-grade design suite, a decent WLAN analysis tester for field troubleshooting, and then something simple but effective for always-with-me smartphone use – like Aruba Utilities for Android devices. Money will have to be spent sooner or later, but the pervasiveness of wireless is also an easy justification.

As the WLAN Evolves, So Must Your Tools
The digital workplace has been evolving since the early days of 802.11b. Very few WLAN tools truly stand the test of time, as each new wireless standard pushes most tools toward obsolescence. Spectrum analyzers (which work mostly at the physical layer) might outlast packet capture tools, but eventually every tool you have will need to be updated as new standards roll out.

For those of us in senior support roles, we count network management systems, syslog servers, network analytics platforms, and a host of server-side information sources among our tools. It’s important that all of them evolve with the WLANs that they were put in place to support.

When was the last time you audited your wireless tools? Do you have a life cycle replacement program, or at least paid support on your best tools? Do you know how you WLAN tools will work (or not) in a Wi-Fi 6 world? If you haven’t taken the time to cover your tool bases in a couple of years, you’re due. Bigger things than ever are ahead for Wi-Fi, so now is the time to make sure your tool house is in order.

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Good Wireless Network Support Requires a Solid Tool Strategy

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