IT network pros and wireless network designers who need to troubleshoot and design 802.11n wireless networks should acquire the latest version of Fluke Networks' AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro.
Newly added diagnostic tests, including concurrent ping, FTP and traceroute augment an array of 802.11n WLAN-analysis capabilities of the portable network problem-solving tool.
Released March 15 with a license cost of $3,995, AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9.5 runs on PC laptops or Fluke Networks OptiView Series II/III network analyzer hardware. Tests at eWEEK Labs showed that while the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro is an effective diagnostic tool, IT managers should understand that it is a tool to be used byand not a substitute forqualified network technicians.
This means that while the cleaned up user interface makes it easier to access 802.11 a/b/g/n monitoring and diagnostic tools, the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro is a sophisticated tool that requires expert network knowledge to configure. Furthermore, the extensive WiFi network analysis tools, including newly added basics such as Ping and traceroute, yield test results that require experienced professional insight to interpret.
This is particularly true when analyzing 802.11n WLAN networks. eWEEK Labs tested AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro at its headquarters in Foster City, Calif., at various retail locations that provide hotspot connectivity, in dense urban apartment complexes and in radio-sparse environments. I used WiFi Analyzer Pro to conduct site surveys and other radio-frequency (RF) analysis that often led me to discoveries that then caused me to reconfigure my tests to further understand the wireless environment.
I installed the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro software on a Lenovo W510 ThinkPad with an Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, running Windows 7 Enterprise. This system was equipped with an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN wireless network adapter.
I downloaded the new WiFi Adapter Check utility from AirMagnet and ran the tool to ensure that this was a supported adapter. IT managers should check the hardware in systems that will be used with AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro as most of the diagnostic tools in the product only work with Fluke-approved hardware.
Many of the changes in AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro are in the One-Touch Connection Test module of the product. The One-Touch module has six connectivity tests, ping, traceroute, FTP, HTTP and multimedia. New in AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9.5 is the ability to run One-Touch connectivity tests to multiple sites simultaneously. For example, I was able to ping eWEEK.com, Baseline.com and CIOInsight.com and see the success rate, average and maximum round-trip time for each destination.
Also new in the One-Touch module is a multimedia stream test that I used to check on the ability of my test 802.11n network to play Windows Media files. Tests using the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro showed that while the test network was able to support playback, the wireless infrastructure was not able to provide an acceptable user experience. The AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro multimedia test supports 18 commonly used media formats.
When used in concert with the core components of AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro, the newly added features significantly reduced the usual tedium of network testing. For example, as I was using the 802.11n tools that evaluate network efficiency and network feature productivity I was easily able to run the One-Touch tests to do a sanity check to examine basic network connectivity and performance.
After I was sure of the basic network soundness (or lack thereof) using the newly enhanced One-Touch module, I was then able to make better use of the extensive 802.11n features, including analyzing the use of 20MHz and 40MHz channels.
I also used the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro to assess the use of High Throughput and other 802.11n configuration options to see how my test networks were configured. Using this information, technicians and network engineers can make informed decisions about how to best tune the WLAN to achieve a working balance between supporting legacy network components (e.g., 802.11g) alongside components with higher-capacity 802.11n capabilities.