Sometimes we need to adjust the car radio dial a little to avoid crackly interference and receive a cleaner signal. A minor adjustment, a millimetre or two to the right or left, can make all the difference. When that wireless radio signal is being affected by external interference, there is an audible impact; our personal antennas (our ears) pick that up and we go about trying to improve it.
So how do we achieve that with WiFi? How does one make those slight, minute adjustments that may improve wireless performance by 20%?
Professional Analysis is the answer. The ability to understand the data presented by specialised software allows wireless network professionals to know where to make those minor tweaks that result in measureable performance improvements.
The key thing to realise here is that the solution maybe quite simple but the general user just doesn’t have the toolsets or the knowledge to find those simple settings to tweak.
Remember the old story of when a factory called a guy to fix a sudden stop in machinery; he came in, examined it, then used a hammer to tap a particular point and bingo, everything started working. His subsequent bill of $200 for the work was questioned. His simple response, “For the tap, $10. For knowing where to tap, $190.”
While the network is carrying business critical applications, all well and good. But Netflix and Soundcloud streaming? They’re usually red flags.
Enter Application Awareness. One of the most useful outcomes from deploying enterprise-grade wireless is obtaining valuable insights into what the network is actually busy doing and the ability to act upon that information automatically.
The network is an asset that an organisation uses like any other tool to run its business. Having visibility into how that asset is being utilised is of tremendous value.
Application Awareness leads to a higher level of detailed visibility into an organisation’s actual, ground-level operations, of how users are using the network services. From this a business is able to identify trends, prevent threats, or recognise that it may need to improve the overall service experience e.g. an increase in capacity.
Many enterprise wireless vendors build Application Awareness into their products. They also make it easy for administrators to enforce a differentiated service based on profiles; triggered by application sensors built into the product. When sensors detect a voice call for example, a certain level of network resources can be awarded to it. When the sensors detect music streaming, the network can be configured to respond to that differently.
The system can generate regular reports on all of the above, including the health of the network. The information that these reports provide to the business becomes valuable from Day 1 and indispensible in supporting and optimising the utilisation of this business asset.
An organisation that before was somewhat blind to what the Wi-Fi was busy doing, and not entirely sure of how their asset was being utilised, now has valuable insights and an input for future planning.