Troubleshooting network issues in the old days were relatively simple. You could use simple network monitoring tools to look at ports on switches and routers combined with remote PC software. As long as you had some simple logic in your troubleshooting process- Is the power on? Is the switch port up? etc., you could solve most networking issues.
In today’s mobile environment the users are no longer plugged into a wire. Go to a college campus today and take a look at the type of connectivity the students are using. We found that with our higher education clients the average student has 3-5 Wi-Fi enabled devices- tablet, notebook, smart phone, and gaming console. We also have used traffic sniffers to monitor wired port traffic in an average college dorm no one is using the wired ports, not so shocking.
I still remember the days when network design for schools was “a port for every pillow”? Today’s campus network design should be “a port for every AP”….seriously.
On the Hospital Wireless network the IT staff has an even more challenging environment because even insulin pumps are going wireless these days. Almost every medical device in the hospital is being shipped with a Wi-Fi chipset in it. That’s pretty scary to think about if you’re an IT admin in a hospital and all you have is Wireshark to help!
So in today’s world where the primary access method is wireless; What features should you look for in a wireless network management system?
1) Wired and Wireless Monitoring
This is titled “wireless management system” but you really need to monitor connectivity and throughput on both wired switches and wireless access points. There is no other way to get a true picture of what is going on in your network and pin point challenges.
2) Real Time RF Visibility
Radio Frequency changes in real time, you need to be able to monitor it in real time. It’s pretty cool to watch actually. If you roll a big piece of medical equipment across the floor of the OR, you can see the change in the RF coverage in the area. If the nurse call system has problems, you’ll need to see what’s going on with the Wi-Fi coverage area.
3) User and Device Visibility
Switch ports are helpful when you’re troubleshooting a desktop PC….but not so much when you’re troubleshooting a Dr.’s iPad roaming around the floor in the OR. You need to be able to identify where the user is, what they are connected to, what they are connected with, and all of the relevant data of the history of the device.