To overlay, or not to overlay, that is the question

Most wireless networks evolve. They start out simple, with coverage
in a few specific locations, like a conference room and the lobby
waiting area. The network is used mainly by guests, so performance and
reliability are not a focus – the network is a “nice-to-have” – and
little or no network monitoring or troubleshooting is required. But
employees become dependent on the wireless conference room access, and
demand access from more locations and expect to have the performance
and reliability characteristics of the wired network. The network
grows, and so does the need for network analysis and troubleshooting.
Given that the wireless coverage is still “spotty”, portable network
analysis – like that provided by OmniPeek running on a laptop – seems
to fit the bill. Eventually the wireless network grows to cover the
entire workspace, and it becomes a viable alternative to wired access.
At this stage the network requires 24×7 monitoring and analysis. This
just can’t be accomplished with a portable solution. But with 20+ APs
spread over 200,000 square feet, how can you be where the trouble is,
and where it’s occurring?

The only alternative has been “overlay networks” – a system of wireless
sensors deployed within your wireless network. This approach is
expensive, with both a significant up-front cost for all of the sensors
and their management software, and an on-going cost to manage this
“management network” network. But now you have a choice – to overlay or
not to overlay, that is the question. WildPackets AP Capture Adapters
for both Cisco and Aruba
allow any managed AP, or a number of APs simultaneously, to be put into
packet capture mode, acting as sensors only when needed. Though this
implies a slightly more dense deployment of APs, it is still far
cheaper than an overlay network, and it provides tremendous flexibility
for capturing wireless packets – you can collect from anywhere,
anytime, with the click of a button. Typical high-quality,
enterprise-wide wireless deployments are designed with overlapping
wireless coverage in mind anyway, so often times no additional hardware
is required. Using only the AP management console and WildPackets’
OmniPeek, you can monitor, analyze and troubleshoot your entire
wireless network, using your existing hardware and without getting up
from your desk.

Interested? The WildPackets AP Capture Adapters for Cisco and Aruba are
all you need to get started, and they are freely available from MyPeek.

Leave a Reply