Category Archives: Ekahau

Catching Up With Ekahau Now That Sidekick Has Been Out Awhile

When Ekahau’s Sidekick Wi-Fi measurement hardware product came out, I was fortunate to be a pre-release beta tester and to be along for the ride when Sidekick went public. I wrote about it here at wirednot and on my IT Toolbox blog as well. There was a lot of buzz and energy around Sidekick’s debut, but that sort of excitement doesn’t always last very long. Being the inquizitive type, I got wondering about how Ekahau themselves thought the launch of Sidekick went. To satisfy my curiosity, I called my my favorite Finnish guy Jussi Kiviniemi- Ekahau’s Senior Vice President (and someone I consider a pal). Our conversation is summarized here.

Lee: So Jussi- It’s been a few months since product release. Did Sidekick meet Ekahau’s expectations as far as customer response goes?

Jussi: I have to tell you, Lee, that response has been wonderful. It’s been beyond our expectations, which is why we’ve had a bit of a backlog of units to ship. Now that our factory line has reached pretty much full speed, the unit wait time has decreased to a couple of weeks. Our customers themselves have helped to spread the word, and we’ve also been busy working different events like Cisco Live and Aruba Atmosphere to raise awareness.

Lee: Awareness has definitely been raised, I’d say. Does the favorable response at this level surprise you at all?

Jussi: Thankfully a lot of bloggers and Ekahau believers have been great advocates for us and Sidekick. We are really lucky like, that, and appreciate it very highly. If anything surprises me, it would be that despite the cost and that there isn’t another product like this out there to compare to, there has been this overwhelming response.

Lee: Have you found that Sidekick’s warm reception has bought any tangential benefits to Ekahau in general?

Jussi: We’re selling A LOT more of our Ekahau Site Survey / Planner software as well, which is wonderful. Some of that is certainly due to Sidekick, but truth be told, our strengthened sales team has also successfully got the new distributor framework going on at the same time, which is further getting both Sidekick and ESS more exposure in the US and globally.

Lee: So what distributors are on board now?

Jussi: Within the last year, we’ve added more than a dozen new distributors all across the world. Ingram Micro is a big new one, Synnex is another big, they’ve been with us for a while already. I also have to mention that we’ve got our long-running Technology Partners as part of our family, too. And it’s not just the CIscos, Arubas, Ruckuses and Huaweis of the world we work very closely with. Think about Keith Parsons of Wireless LAN Professionals as an example- the Ekahau training that he and his all-star team provides is so good… because his services are excellent, our tools look that much better, and that helps spread the word.

Lee: Awesome- and agreed on WLAN Pros. So I have to ask: what comes next for Sidekick? I learned as an early user that this tool is expected to evolve. Anything you can share yet in that direction?

Jussi: Oh you’re right, Lee, that we’re far from “done” with Sidekick’s capabilities. It’s the foundation of our future business – the future software products of coming years will be built around the Sidekick that was released in September. I can’t really say too much specifically, but I will share that in early 2018 we’ll be announcing additional capabilities for the currently shipping Sidekick that will make the survey process significantly easier and more convenient. Let’s just leave that one there for now.

Lee: Aw, you big tease! At least you’re giving us all something to dream about… Now what about ESS- what else is coming there?

Jussi: Again, I can’t spill too many beans right now. But we know we have competition, and we respect where maybe they have a discreet feature that we lack in ESS. We’re working on those…Also our customers ask us if we’ll be doing any cloud-based project management and sharing kind of stuff. Ekahau is well aware that the world is moving to the cloud. We’re living in the world, too, so all I can say is keep watching for announcements.

Lee: Alright, Jussi. Fair enough. Congrats again on Sidekick’s success to date. When am I going to cross paths with you again- maybe WLPC?

Jussi: Thank you, and absolutely, I’ll be there to talk through some of our upcoming stuff with our team. BTW, the registration for WLPC is now open, and it always sells out. Just saying… Always great talking to you Lee!

And there you have it! To learn more about Ekahau:

Company Web Site

Enterprise Site Survey (ESS)

Sidekick

Ekahau’s Sidekick Changes the WLAN Site Survey Game

Some 15 years ago, I got my start in wireless networking. I had a year or two of pen and paper manually-recorded WLAN surveys, and then I discovered Ekahau Site Survey (ESS). It was a curiosity at first- but I’ll never forget the first time I used it for real and discovered how tremendously accurate it could be. This was Harry Potter stuff, long before there was Harry Potter, and it has become the absolute design and survey tool of choice for many a WLAN professional. Fast forward many years and versions of ESS, and the software (and company behind it) have only gotten better.

Now, we’re at a place where wireless professionals struggle to find the right adapters for survey and analysis work in an age where WLAN can run faster than USB adapters or even native built-into-the-laptop WLAN network radios. We also deal with inconsistencies across survey adapters, mismatched MIMO between survey adapters and WLAN hardware, and battery drain that comes with powering an adapter for long hours during survey and analysis projects. The time has come for a new  paradigm, and Ekahau is answering the call with their freshly announced Sidekick.

The prototype unit I’m testing is roughly the same size as a medium-ish access point. It’s comfortably wearable/carry-able in a variety of strap configurations, and connects to the ESS computer via a USB cable used to pass data from it’s own WLAN adapters (not the same as a USB-connected adapter, and the difference is important).  And it makes the already excellent ESS suite even sweeter.

Onboard the Sidekick is it’s own long-life rechargeable battery, and two enterprise-grade 2×2 802.11ac adapters. Compatible with ESS version 9.1 on both Windows and Mac (yes, that’s right), Sidekick makes the work you do with ESS faster, more precise, and enables a more test-instrument-like experience over the old USB dongle model paradigm. And forget about breaking Sidekick when you ding it against a doorway like with external adapters.

Sidekick shows like this in my Windows OS network adapters view:

Sidekick2

And like this in my ESS program:

sidekick1

Sidekick 5

The Ekahau Site Survey utility gains a new dual-band crispness that is uniform across any PC running it, and the entire package just feels like a major step forward in multi-adapter capability.

sidekick4

Whether a single Sidekick is shared among a couple of teams or several teams with a mix of Mac and Windows PCs all have Sidekicks, the new magic strips away all of the variability that came from a mixed bag of adapters at survey time while also providing long battery life (and a platform from which a slew of expected feature evolutions) which can only lead to better wireless when put in skilled hands.

And it looks darn pretty.

Sidekick-box-700x773

Sidekick is big news today for Ekahau. It was my pleasure to beta test it, and to also hear how the awesome technical minds behind the Sidekick plan on expanding its capabilities in the future. But that’s a blog you’ll have to wait for.

Pricing? I *think* under $3K, will update when I know for sure. More information, including full specifications, at http://ekahau.com/sidekick