7signal | The Wi-Fi Performance Company

Frequently Asked Questions

I already have a first-class WLAN controller with wireless management software with it. Why would I need something else?

Network performance management and application service level management functionalities are missing from today’s WLAN controllers. WLAN controllers provide no visibility to service quality from end-user perspective. As a result, maintenance is most often triggered by end user fault alerts, after the problem has already been reported.

How does 7signal differ from Wireless Intrusion and Detection products?

WIDPS focuses on security and remote troubleshooting. 7signal focuses on end-user’s perspective, network performance and on maintaining service levels with the business. The Sapphire Eye has 6 independent antennas, which provide more precise coverage compared to standard access point sensors with basic omni-directional antennas.

Does 7signal automatically correct problems in the network?

7signal, nor any other system, is able to correct severe problems in the network by itself. While allocating different amounts of resources for different clients and applications gives a little bit more room for critical client applications to breath, it does not impact overall Wi-Fi capacity. In fact, lower priority clients will get practically no service at all.

I have a “power boost” function in my access points. The neighboring access point increases power if one fails. Isn’t that enough?

Total access point equipment failure is not the typical reason for network issues and power boost cures only that. Reasons reside more often in radio environment, network parameters and also software faults in network equipment. For this reason, an overlapping RF coverage strategy might not be worth of investment. It is also important to remember that even though access point output power increases improve client receiving levels, it does nothing for client signal levels.

I have automatic RF channel allocation function in my controller. Isn’t this sufficient?

Automatic channel control functionalities have underperformed in many implementations. This feature provides some benefits in cases where there is only one or a few interferers that may be avoided by a simple channel change. However, one automatic change triggers another change and this process continues. This leads to an uncontrolled and harmful “oscillation” of network settings.

Why haven’t large Enterprise WLAN vendors implemented Wi-Fi performance management systems?

General focus has been on security and enhancing the maximum throughput over radio connection.

My company operates on several sites, some of them overseas. Can I use 7signal for centralized monitoring?

Yes, Sapphire supports fully managed service provider environments, operator networks and large enterprises. One central Sapphire server can handle large multi-location networks. One server is sufficient for deployments up to 2,000 Sapphire Eyes, each covering 4 to 8 access points depending on topology.

Why do I need 7signal when I already have management tools from Cisco, Aruba or Air Magnet?

7signal provides customers visibility into the “last hop” of the network connection. No other solution can provide essential network data metrics, such as throughput, packet loss, latency and jitter, that measure the end-user experience. In addition, application server connection success rates are not available from other vendors in the industry. Sapphire complements your existing management tools in the areas where they lack capabilities.

I just invested in Cisco Prime. What additional value does 7signal provide?

Prime is not a client that uses and experiences the Wi-Fi network.  It only tells you if the network is up, down or congested.  7signal’s Wi-Fi performance sensor behaves like a client and measures throughput, delay, jitter as well as the download speed of important website URL downloads to important SaaS systems…all of which affect worker productivity.  7signal’s Wi-Fi analytics then help you track down root cause to most performance issues.  As your environment changes over time, 7signal is always there, testing, measuring and verifying that performance, from the end user’s perspective,  is meeting expectations so that everybody remains productive.

Why do I need 7signal to improve my wireless when I have the support of my supplier?

7signal’s Sapphire solution helps network managers monitor, measure and maintain Wi-Fi networks with critical applications, dynamic traffic volumes and where there is a wide variety in both client devices and access points. 7signal also helps give network managers visibility and full control of the used WLAN spectrum.

We adhere to Cisco best practices and use Auto RF and Auto Channel planning. How does this affect our ability to comply with Cisco best practices?

We are vendor neutral, and are most widely deployed in Cisco environments. We don’t mandate adherence or not to Cisco best practices, and will make recommendations based on optimizing performance, which may or may not suggest turning off Auto RF and Auto channel planning. We have seen that due to the dynamics of RRM, it may be a possibility that it would be better to manual set channels and power in certain area’s to increase performance. Although the technology has improved over the years it is still open to many variables that can cause it to degrade performance.

Does the system tell you the changes to make to improve your Wi-Fi network?

Yes, the Auto-Optimize feature contained within our Wi-Fi analytics software provides you with a detailed list of action items for improving the quality and performance of your Wi-Fi network.

Does 7signal need to go everywhere?

Eye placement is driven by critical success areas, where it is most important to maintain optimal Wi-Fi performance. on how many key areas are important to maintain performance. We recommended outfitting critical areas with Sapphire eyes. Once the eyes are in place and monitoring begins you might need to continue expanding into key area’s in order to maintain that key performance.

Which specific scripts on which specific tests can we use to determine why a client connection failed on real-time or historical basis?

7signal focuses on several key metrics for seeing whole network status. Acting as a synthetic client, 7signal can test network performance to determine if optimal speeds are capable, if radio quality is having issues, or if application layer and wired network are performing. After testing network performance, 7signal is able to focus on client behavior to see how we the radio quality is (data rates) from both the eye to the AP, AP to the client and Client to the AP. We also look at key metrics like retries. Using this information collectively, we can usually determine an actionable items for improvements.

What specific recommendations do you make to solve Wi-Fi issues?

Change recommendations might include things such as changes to the RF environment, such as spectrum adjustments, channel changes or additions, channel bonding, channel planning, and channel usage. We might also recommend controller based changes such as beaconing and fragmentation. 7Signal has also been successful in identifying and correcting network and client settings.

I’ve already deployed Air Magnet. What specific benefits do I get above and beyond their performance monitoring solution?

7signal is purpose built for maintaining and monitoring the wireless networks. Other retrofit systems don’t reflect key information that our product offers, such as radio retransmission rates, client retransmissions, air time utilization, and attach rate across each client/AP/SSID pair. 7Signal also stores historical data for backwards looking analysis. Our hardware is also specially designed to focus energy in certain areas to see the network performance and avoid outside interference. 7Signal uses an SLA approach to measurements, looks at data from a client perspective, and measures trends that may impact performance. 7signal also has a team of RF engineers available to data analysis and consulting.

How does your system handle single-channel, channel striping, and load balancing aspects of Meru Virtual Cell?

Our system can run at full capacity when doing single channel architecture, channel-striping and load balancing. There are unique challenges in a virtual cell environment. The 5.0 release will help identify Meru AP specific information, presenting data in a manner more like other platforms.

Cisco gives me application layer performance statistics via port protocol. What specific advantages does 7signal provide beyond this capability?

Many Vendors use what is now referred to as application visible control or the ability to see packets by specific destination protocols. However, even with this information, vendors are unable to determine how an actual client is performing on the network. 7Signal adds the important element of visibility into application layer performance.

Can 7signal integrate into my current alerting system?

Today, 7signal supports pulling log information from our server, similar to pulling logs via Linux platform. We also support XML for systems that can pull via SNMP.