Site surveys, should every install have one?

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I wanted to get the communities thoughts on this topic.

When installing Wireless Networks do you think you should do predictive and post active surveys for every install?

As a customer do you have a survey tool or do you work with a Partner to do the survey?

What do you or your Partner use for software?

Why did you pick one survey vendor over another (ease of use, features, etc...)?

Do you think you should perform yearly surveys?   


 
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Doug Hyde, Technical Support Manager

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Posted 1 year ago

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Shay Weir

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Every site should have a pre- and post survey done.  One to plan out the install and one to confirm your deployment covers the business needs.  The method of performing a survey can vary greatly depending on the tools you have or don't have.  Sometimes a 3rd party can be contracted to perform this for you or you can purchase the tools to have on hand.

Personally, I use the NetScout Airmagnet Survey Pro suite.  Works well and easy to use.  There is also Ekahau  similar to Airmagnet.  Both do about the same.  There are others, but these are the top 2.

You should do a yearly audit to make sure your APs are still where they are supposed to be and that they are functioning as they should providing wireless coverage.
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Shay Weir

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I currently have responsibility for over 900 locations.  Our internal team is a staff of 3 with 30 more out in the field.  We cannot be everywhere.  We trained the 30 on how to do the predictive based on what they know about their site\location.  Like some of the other comments, not enough manpower to perform actual post surveys.  We do rely upon the Extreme WiNG controllers and management to keep us posted on changes.  Static versus smart-rf.  Hmmm  that is another discussion.

Regardless, surveys are the most important part of the wireless environment.  You gotta have them and keep them current.
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Chris Sherman

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We do them ourselves - I didn't like paying and waiting so why not?  Site survey:  http://www.tamos.com/products/wifi-site-survey/.  Seems feature-rich enough, works well (i.e. good predictive results) and costs a lot less.  Regular updates including Extreme APs.  I'm not a huge fan of its reporting features but again, the cost makes it ok.

You should do predictive and post active if you can.  If you don't have time but you have the experience, guess with some spot-checking.  If you aren't comfortable with that, get a partner to do the surveys(check credentials/referrals!).

Yearly would be nice but I don't think the ROI (timewise) would be worth it.  This stuff runs rock-solid and with proper setup I have little issue.  The very few problems it would unearth wouldn't justify the time it took to walk the entire campus.
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Joshua Puusep

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I do AP on a stick surveys for pre, as they are a lot more accurate than predictive.  I do a post survey for tweaking the Tx and channel plan and then a Final survey for documention.  

We use Ekahau and chose it for it's intuitive interface and decent price point.

Yearly surveys don't hurt, especially if your using static channels, as the environment will inevitably change.  We don't have a large enough team to re-survey every building yearly, so we also rely on reporting/logs in order to determine if changes are necessary.
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Chris Sherman

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This also begs the question - what reporting/logs are the most helpful for post-installation? All I have found(I'd like more) is the java NetSight Wireless Manager which reports noise issues and I have alarms setup for APs that go down and when I get too many clients/AP. We have non-wing Extreme Wi-Fi.
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Doug Hyde, Technical Support Manager

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Great topic to post, let's start that one. 
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Timo

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And very important topic, a AP can't detect noise issues. It try to detect it and sometimes this works for you. If it have a integrate spectrum analyzer it can detect interference next to the AP. An AP under the ceiling detect a video camera under the ceiling, but it don't detect the motion detector next to the client at the floor.
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Rich Pacheco

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We utilize Extreme Networks for our predictive surveys.  We work with our SE and send them the floor plans and complete a questionnaire they give us.  The questionnaire is for them to gather information regarding building material type, min. signal strength you looking for, any large auditorium spaces, etc.  They'll lay out the building and map out the APs as part of a first pass.  Usually we get on GoTo meeting and make some changes based on best cabling path, AP mounting locations, etc.  Once we are satisfied with the AP locations, they'll generate a report which shows the AP locations, channel settings, power settings, etc.  It makes things easier for us when we start to deploy them.  Once they are all installed and configured, we'll spot check locations to determine if we have adequate coverage.

Here is a thread from a while back about an Extreme Wireless Planner.  Not sure if that ever will come to life for the customers, but it would be nice to have a wireless planner that would integrate to OneView Maps.

https://community.extremenetworks.com/extreme/topics/extreme-wireless-planner

Regards,
-Rich P.
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Doug Hyde, Technical Support Manager

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RF Planner, it's close I promise :-) 
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Shay Weir

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Motorola used to have a program called LAN Planner.  It was by far one of the best utilities out there for doing site surveys and predictives.  Wish Extreme would bring it back to life.  3D and all.  You can add a great amount of detail.  Racks, counters, better walls, shelving...  IT was there and very useful and accurate.
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Timo

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It always depends on installation typ and customer.

AP on a Stick, Simulation, Post Survey?

We do AP on a Stick surveys for warehouse customers. They would have this. For VoIP installations or buildings under construction we to simulations and try to do survey a sample area.

For all installations we do a post survey. This is very important for all:
- We as a VAR can check how well we create AP on a Stick or simulations, with out the knowledge how good or bad we work, we can't extend our service.
- The customer, do our VAR a good job? Fit the final environment our requirements? Even if we have no problems, it's possible that the site doesn't fit our requirements.

But it's not just, how does we do our job? We also need to check the cabling guy, are all APs working? What is with the installer, does they mount the APs or antennas the right way? Is it aligned as we request?

Yearly survey?

Even this depends on the installation. We have some environments, that changes every week and other that doesn't changes for years. There are also environments, where you need to have 100% coverage in emergence cases. Depending on the environment and the customer requirements, we do yearly surveys or just on request if changes occurs.

What tool?

I'm personal recommend Ekahau. I do some surveys with AirMagent based on customer requirements, but it doesn't have this powerful and easy to use UI. For us as a VAR also the reporting is very important and this is like a dream with Ekahau! If you have questions or feature request, just check out Twitter, works very great. Also the team around Jussi and Mikko is fantastic.

Customer or partner?

I'm thinking, that the most customers that working together with a partner/VAR don't have the knowledge to analyze the network quality. You need a lot of knowledge and understand the physic to plan and design WiFi networks. This knowledge most people can't get, if they working as a network administrator for one company, supporting LAN/WAN/WLAN.
But some customers with bigger WiFi installation train there employee and do it on there own. For this customer and new VAR employees I can recommend the Ekahau training. It's not just about the product, it's also a small part of CWNA. Not a enough for a VAR, but to plan and design WiFi networks.
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Doug Hyde, Technical Support Manager

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Some great info here, thanks for sharing everyone!!!