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WLAN Performance Monitoring Bridges Gap Between NPM and APM

by Eric Camulli
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Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) and Application Performance Monitoring (APM) are systems that give enterprises an end-to-end view of network performance. But do they really? I would contend that there is a gap between the systems and filling this space is…. well, air and space.  You see, without a system to continually measure this invisible medium, your NPM and APM systems are incomplete because the “last mile” is not being monitored adequately.  NPM monitors your network, APM monitors your applications. But in a world driven by devices and mobility, this doesn’t matter without WLAN performance monitoring measuring the performance that wireless clients experience when accessing critical systems and resources on the network.

 

Tools for measuring the air exist today, such as spectrum analyzers and Wi-Fi speed testers, however, as tools they are reactive in nature. They typically come into play after a problem has been reported, after productivity has been hindered. A tool is used to troubleshoot, whereas a system is used to collect information, analyze, verify and assure peak performance. Without WLAN performance monitoring, there is a critical gap between NPM and APM. Network administrators are left to guess as to the cause of performance challenges, which brings rise to the misdiagnosis of issues resulting in finger pointing.

As M2M communication widens and the Internet of Things emerges, this performance gap will expand unless WLAN performance monitoring (WPM) is in your enterprise to proactively identify and notify you of dips in agreed upon service levels. WPM key performance indicators for clients, such as throughput, packet loss, latency and jitter  (which adversely affects VoIP communications) are all monitored 24×7 and benchmarked against targets for acceptable performance. By tracking and trending Wi-Fi performance every day, the system gives organizations the analytical data they need in order to eliminate Wi-Fi disruptions and to optimize WLAN networks to assure maximum worker productivity.

Even with the most sophisticated NPM and APM systems in place, without WLAN performance monitoring, there are many unanswered questions such as, “Where is the Wi-Fi performance poor? How bad is it? Who is affected?” and “When did this start happening?”

As a result of this NPM/APM blind spot, network administrators can only speculate as to what might be causing wireless clients to perform poorly in their environments. They react to complaints, then use tools they literally grab “off the shelf”. Next, they must urgently begin the painstaking effort of troubleshooting, which could take days, placing business operations at risk.  What’s clearly missing is the Wi-Fi performance monitoring link between NPM and APM to ensure your enterprise network management chain is not broken.

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