Tag Archives: Aruba

How Does Ekahau ESS Stay Current For APs and Antennas?

EkahauSo I’m sitting on a bench at the mall, and this guy plops down on the other end. I can hear him sobbing a little. I’m thinking “poor bastard, must be a death in the family, or his wife split…” But then I hear his kid about 10 feet away say to a pal “my dad is a complete loser- he doesn’t even know how the world’s best Wi-Fi survey and planning tool gets updated for new APs and antennas!”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I really don’t know how it happens, either. I’m a loser too!

But there’s a big difference between me and Sobby Bench Guy. He’s not a gonzo bloggist with a license to ask the tough questions. That’s my turf, and that’s just what I did to get my mind right on the topic. I put on my Interrogator Fez and went gunning for everyone’s favorite European guy, Jussi Kiviniemi. Sure, he’s Ekahau’s VP of Wi-Fi Tools, but I don’t mind running in those circles now and then. I grilled Dr. J pretty good, and he gave me what I was looking for. Read on.

Q. How long does it take to get a new WLAN AP or antenna added to ESS, once Ekahau
has the technical information?
Jussi: Depending on load & urgency, it takes 1 day to 3 weeks to get it done. It’ll be published in next sw release (sw updates about every 2 months).

Q. Does Ekahau have a strategy for retiring old APs or antennas from the software
Jussi: Good question. Not really. Happens organically through Wi-Fi vendor acquisitions. We actually should probably take out the 802.11b stuff if we haven’t already 😉

Q.  How does Ekahau find out about new APs/antennas from the major vendors?
Jussi: It varies. Today, they often send the new or upcoming stuff proactively. That’s good for their business too. If not, we ask. Often customers ask us, then we ask the vendor. 

Q.  Why is it advantageous for vendors to get their stuff into ESS?
Jussi: A lot of their partners use our tool (we are tool of choice for Cisco, Aruba, Aerohive,…). And they often want to design using the actual stuff as it is more accurate. 

Q.  What’s the oddest antenna you’ve seen in ESS?
Jussi: At first, the Xirrus arrays were different. I wish we had the planner already back in the Vivato days, that would have been interesting. Also, the Ventev floor mount stuff is refreshing. 

Q.  Any other thoughts on the topic of adding products to ESS?
Jussi: I highly encourage the public and vendors to contact us to tell us which APs or antennas they are missing. It’s a free service to add them. Twitter, web site form or wifidesign@ekahau.com all work. 

We also add things like multi-SSID MAC combining as one radio, and multiple radios into one physical AP.  This requires specs from vendors too. 

And there you have it. Just a little behind-the-scenes information on how a great tool stays fresh. I’ll echo Jussi’s last point: if you see something missing, give Ekahau a shout to get the program updated. ESS is huge tool in the WLAN industry’s toolbox, so keeping it current is a win for everyone.

Additional Resources:


Quien es Mas Macho? A Beacon Battery Brouhaha!

There’s not a lot of networky substance here, so if you’re looking for that, well- you just keep moving. But, if you’ve been following what’s going on with beacons and location services that use these little gems, you might want to keep reading.

I give you… Exhibit A.


At the top, we see The Aruba (Meridian) BT-100 beacon, which was given to me at Wireless Field Day 8 as I sipped a cold one and got briefed on lofty tech topics at Levi’s Stadium by Aruba’s SMEs (I run in those circles). At the bottom, we have the Gimbal beacon, by Qualcomm. This was another freebie, which I scored during a promotion. Each has it’s place in the beacon universe, with the power to help build amazing success stories in the field of location based applications and services.

This isn’t a Beacon X vs Beacon Y smackdown in the making- but it is an opportunity to point out a pretty important point about beacons.

I give you… Exhibit B.

beacon 1

Using my world-class Leatherman Skeletool CX (special Kieth Parsons Edition), I jimmied my way into the innards of each beacon with the precision maneuvers of a skilled surgeon. And what I saw made me do some thinkin’ about the powerful lonely feeling that grips a man when batteries go dead and whatever the thingy is in play stops working. Which brings me to the points of this blog:

  • Some batteries are bigger than others
  • Bigger batteries have more capacity
  • More batteries combine for more capacity
  • More batteries that are bigger combine for even more capacity

Sounds so simple, right? The implications aren’t so profound if whatever you’re doing with beacons only needs a few of them in easy-to-reach places. But I have been to Levi’s Stadium, oh yes I have, and I can testify that copious amounts of beacons are in use and not all are easy to get to. This is an example of a place where beacon battery brevity blows. 

You want loooong battery life in many beacon situations, and out of the box the BT-100 promises an impressive 1,460 days. For those not up on Common Core math yet, that equals 4 years. By contrast, the Gimbal above is rated for “many months” (I got about 6-7 months out of mine).

The Gimbal uses the CR2032 battery, whereas the BT-100 uses two of the phat-daddy CR2477 cells. This is the biggest “watch battery” I’ve ever seen, personally.

What’s the Big Deal?

To me, battery refresh on deployed beacons has the potential to significantly add to total TCO where hundreds are deployed, especially if ladders need to be climbed and maintenance windows need to be followed. This simple example shows that not all beacons will have the same battery life, based solely on the battery used (note- I’m leaving out some important operational parameters that impact battery life, but these are beyond what I’m trying to get across here).

There are many, many more beacons on the market than just these two, but if you’re going down the beacon path, make sure you consider expected battery life as you make your choices.

Just getting started with beacons? Here are a couple of blogs I wrote up as I went from knowing absolutely nothing about beacons to knowing enough to be able to not be totally clueless.

Beacon Baby Steps
A Little More on Beacons

Wireless Field Day 8 Takes “Wireless” Up a Notch

If you’re not familiar with the Tech Field Day franchise,  you’re really missing out on a fantastic resource. When the events are live and playing out, you get a nice feel of the pulses of the various spaces covered (Network, Storage, Wireless, and Virtualization).  After the live coverage is done, the session recordings become excellent on-demand resources.

I’ve had the privilege of attending a number of Wireless Field Days (WFDs), and I think the upcoming WFD8 really moves in a nice direction. Each WFD event I’ve been to  has provided a wonderful glimpse into the goings on of the presenting WLAN-related vendors. I’ve got to see and hear first-hand what the following companies have to say on their own offerings, industry trends, and what the future of wireless might look like:

  • 7signal
  • Aerohive
  • AirTight Networks
  • Aruba Networks
  • Avaya
  • Cisco Networks
  • Cloudpath
  • Extreme Networks
  • Fluke Networks
  • Juniper
  • Meraki
  • Meru Networks
  • MetaGeek
  • Motorola
  • WildPackets
  • Xirrus

WFD8 features Aruba Networks as an HP company for the first time, Cambium Networks, Cisco, Cradlepoint, Ruckus Wireless, and Zebra Technologies. I like this lineup a lot, for various reasons.

With Aruba and Cisco, it’s always good to hear from the WLAN industry’s #1 and #2. I’m a Cisco and Meraki customer, so visiting Cisco’s campuses is a bit more personal for me. I’ve long respected and admired Aruba, and I’d like to see how things “feel” now that HP is the mothership.

Cambium Networks is a bit exotic as I think of them as a backhaul company- but they certainly do more with wireless, and it’ll be exciting to hear from a relative newcomer. I did one blog entry about Cambium awhile back.

The Field Day organizers did well in my opinion to land Cradlepoint. Modern day “wireless” is about so much more than Wi-Fi, and Cradlepoint’s 4G edge-routing will take the delegates down a new WFD path that could serve as precedent for future non-mainstream Wi-Fi vendors. I’ve covered Cradlepoint in my blog as well.

With Ruckus, WFD finally lands one of the main WLAN vendors out there that I’ve not met with, though they were at #WFD3.  Ruckus covers a lot of ground, so their presentation is hard to predict, but is guaranteed to be interesting.  I’ve done a fair amount of coverage of Ruckus, both for Network Computing (like this one) and right here in this blog.

Finally, there is Zebra Technologies. I’ve personally never laid hands on a Zebra product, and for those who don’t know, Zebra bought Motorola’s Wi-Fi interests (which I blogged about.) With a fascinating product line of their own, this too should be a very interesting session.

Put a reminder on your calendars- this Wireless Field Day promises to really put a fresh spin on an already excellent event. Woo woo!


Location Services Are Heating Up

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat around here without hitting an announcement about some new location service or analytics application. This is a growth space, that is obvious. Whether locating wireless client devices on a WLAN with greater accuracy as an end to the means, or taking it up a notch and building a full-blown suite of location-based services, a lot of names are in the game. Let’s take a sniff at a handful of examples in a space I have been watching for years.

Nearbuy Systems promises “A Practical Way to Deliver on the Omnichannel Shopping Experience Today”. Headed up by CEO Bryan Wargo (a long-time professional acquaintance of mine, and sweetheart of a guy), Nearbuy has made it into my Network Computing Blog a few times since their formation. Nearbuy leverages your wireless network to work it’s magic.

Aerohive Networks recently formed a partnership with Euclid Analytics to leverage both companies’ retail customer bases. Again, the partnership was announced in my Network Computing Magazine blog column.

Canadian startup Wifarer  looks to make it big as a provider of indoor positioning services. Using a customer’s own WLAN, Wifarer maps customer venues and provides a range of services (handicap routes through a venue, for example), and content-enabled benefits via their app. Pass a coffee shop, get offered a coupon- that sort of thing. Their demos are worth watching to get a flavor for their offerings, and here’s Wifarer’s mention in Network Computing.

Aruba Networks doesn’t really tout their location tools, but Aruba’s AirWave management tool has always competed well with Cisco’s graphical client tracking services, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear more from the #2 WLAN company in the market on location services in the near future.

Even Google is in on it, with their no-cost-to-you Indoor Mapping Service.

I’ll finish this one with Cisco Network’s recent announcement regarding their Mobility Services Engine (MSE) new 7.4 code. Cisco announced details here, and at the recent Wireless Field Day 4 event. As an MSE owner (I have three in use on a very large WLAN) I have a lot to digest on this. From what I heard first-hand at Wireless Field Day, it seems that MSE 7.4 comes pretty close to doing what Wifarer promises- and Cisco claims better analytics than Euclid with MSE 7.4.Update- though I have yet to get to 7.4, I have learned that the new magic in CIsco MSE 7.4 comes from a partnership with Meridian.

There’s obviously a lot to follow here- stay tuned for more, and let me know what you are digging in the WLAN location services space.