Podcast

CTS 145: 6 Tips for Creating Ekahau Reports

François and Rowell discuss tips to creating Ekahau reports.

6 Tips for Creating Ekahau Reports

Download the Free CTS Ekahau Report Templates

Here are two free CTS Ekahau report templates to get you started with using reports for your surveys.

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1 – Use testing files

If you have worked on any programming project before, you will easily understand this tip. Working on a report template is kind of working on a programming project. Here is a summary of the work flow:

    1. You create your template file including your JSON tags
    2. You run it against your Ekahau project
    3. You debug the JSON errors you have
    4. Once you don’t have errors anymore, you can analyze the final generated
    5. You fix your template
    6. You run the updated template against you Ekahau project
    7. You rinse and repeat steps 2 to 6 until you are satisfied with the overall generated report

In the process of testing and debugging, it is much easier and faster to get it done if you work on smaller portions of the report, one at a time.

So here is how you could do it to speed up the process:

    1. Create one master template. This will be the template that you will use at the end to generate the final report.
    2. Create a second template (I call this one my testing template). You will use this one to fine tune your report, section per section. Use this template to do your testing. Once you are happy with the result, copy and paste the section into the master template and start working on the next section.

This is ease the overall process of debugging, fine tuning a custom report template.

Also, when working on loops, I also sometimes create an Ekahau testing file (.esx). I would have a little version of my Ekahau project with maybe 2 or 3 of the elements I am looping on. This way, the testing and tuning process is also much faster.

So if you want to loop on APs, you could have an Ekahau testing project with 3 APs and only loop on these 3 APs.

2 – Put as much information as you can in the Ekahau project

One of the best advantage of using custom report templates is that it speeds up the process of generating reports. In order to maximize on this, you want to gather as much information as you can into the Ekahau project itself. If you do so, you could use the template to generate most of the report for you without adjusting it too much post generation.

Example of information you can configure directly into the Ekahau project:

    • Name of the project
    • Name of the customer
    • Name of the Engineer
    • Address of the location you are designingtroubleshootingvalidating
    • Cable length from AP to MDF/IDF (2D estimation)
    • Location of MDF/IDF
    • Name of APs
    • All the capacity details (number of devices, type of devices, distribution…)
    • Network configuration details (Min. Data rate, number of SSID)

You can also add notes to the following objects:

    • Areas (you could use this to specify specific requirements for specific areas)
    • Access Points (You could use this to add pictures, specify installation specifications…)

You can also add text notes and pictures notes on the floorplan itself. All these notes and information will be retrievable from the custom template report.

Yes it will take you more time to finish up your work in Ekahau. However, it will save you a bunch of time when you generate and produce the overall final report.

3 – Prepare your floor plans beforehand

Let me tell you, it is way easier to spend the time to prepare the floor plans before you import them into Ekahau rather than fixing the generated images in the final report.

A lot of cropping and fixing can be involved, after the final report is generated, if your floor plans are not the best to begin with.

One tip would be to make sure that you work on your floor plans before importing them into your Ekahau project. Here is what can be done at this stage:

    • Rotating the floor plans
    • Converting them into black and white images
    • Cropping the white space around the floor plan
    • Creating new view points (if using DWG files)
      • AutoCAD LT
      • DraftSight
      • FreeCAD – https://www.freecadweb.org/

If you take the time to work on your floor plans before importing them into your Ekahau project, it will save you a lot of time when the final report gets generated. Basically, you will not have to touch the pictures at all.

4 – Keep your layout simple

If you keep the layout of the Word document simple, it will be easier to re-use the template from one project to another without having to modify it.

Sometimes, complex Word templates will have pictures, objects and all sorts of complexe forms. These will not play well (and might disappear) when you run the template against the Ekahau project.

Once example: the crop feature does not work. You could crop a picture on the template document but when the final reports gets generated, it will show you the whole picture in the final report. So you can crop the picture before importing into your template document.

Simple layout does not mean ugly layout. You could produce very elegant and clean minimalist template layouts that will work very well when you run them against your Ekahau project.

5 – Don’t be afraid to use the landscape mode

Depending on the floor plans you receive from the customer, some of them will be best suited for a portrait layout, some others will be suited for a landscape layout.

Here is a tip, when you create a template report document, create 2 versions:

    • One using the portrait layout
    • One using the landscape layout

That way, when it is time to generate the report, depending on the project, you can choose from the more appropriate template!

6 – Dig into the Ekahau documentation

If you go to this page, you will find all the documentation related to the custom template reports: https://support.ekahau.com/hc/en-us/sections/115001529668-Template-Reporting

If you dig a little bit into these pages, you might find some interesting things.

Here are some examples of things I have discovered while digging into the documentation:

    • You can count objects using the counttag
    • You can fix the size of a visualization you generate using the following tags
      • width-in-millis
      • width-in-inches
      • height-in-millis
      • height-in-inches
    • You can retrieve the information related to the network configurations using the following tags
      • network-conf-min-rate-2
      • network-conf-min-rate-5
      • network-conf-band-steering-2
      • network-conf-band-steering-5
      • network-conf-ssid-count-2
      • network-conf-ssid-count-5
      • network-conf-max-clients
    • You can add a new line in your code by using the following tag nl
    • You can use a specific set of requirements using this code: <#”use-requirement”: {“identifier”: “CTS Requirements”}#>

Let us know if you find something else 🙂

Links and Resources

Download the Free CTS Ekahau Report Templates

Here are two free CTS Ekahau report templates to get you started with using reports for your surveys.

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CTS 144: Meraki Wi-Fi Tips

Rowell and François discuss their tips and advice when running a Meraki Wi-Fi network in challenging environments such as warehouse, hospitals, and dense office environments.

Meraki Wi-Fi Tips

There’s a big appeal for organizations to use Meraki. The ease of management is the biggest factor. With the management interface being user friendly and the hardware having a very minimalistic look and feel, there’s no question why it’s so popular.

But making something easy to use does create other challenges when it comes to Wi-Fi. Some scenarios are not as easily solved with Meraki, or any other vendor for that matter. There are a lot of configurations which could lead to poor performance. We’ve seen it before with our existing clients and wanted to offer our tips.

Design

We’ve noticed many people opt to skip design altogether. Or maybe they are unaware that a design is needed. This is the biggest mistake. Before we dive into Meraki specifics, we wanted to take this chance to remind everyone to have a design completed by a Wi-Fi expert.

Know your devices and applications

Planning and design are critical. This involves knowing what type of devices will be using Wi-Fi. Those devices will dictate how your configuration will be for your Meraki network. We’ve seen many misconfigurations which lead to users complaining about Wi-Fi performance due to not knowing how the devices utilize Wi-Fi and what applications are being used.

Turn off 2.4 GHz radios

By default, every single 2.4 GHz radio is enabled. In a warehouse, every AP can hear each other because of reflections and open space. Signal travels very far. In one example, a warehouse was seeing over 60% channel utilization on every AP in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. After about half of the radios were disabled, the channel utilization dropped to under 20%. A design will provide indicate which AP should or should not have a 2.4 GHz radio enabled. Coverage holes should not be created if devices must use 2.4 GHz.

Channels

With every radio being enabled by default, we must keep in mind what channels are being used and how much we can reuse. Using wider channel widths can look appealing because of the high throughput but at the cost of minimizing how many channels you can reuse in your environment before causing co-channel contention. Again, a design will produce a channel plan in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Our guidance is to stick to 20 MHz or 40 MHz wide channels.

Transmit Power

All we have to say here is tune down the power. There’s no need to transmit at full power. That signal travels very far and can contribute to co-channel contention. Sometimes the AP cannot hear the client device transmitting back to the AP because clients don’t have the same power capabilities as APs. Use a design to determine the transmit power settings of an AP.

Placement is key

Again, we must reiterate the benefits of doing a design. Placement is important especially when dealing with scanner guns, roaming clients, and VoIP calls. APs placed away from obstruction will provide the best performance and will minimize the amount of client issues.

External antennas help tremendously

Sometimes omnidirectional antennas just don’t do the job. We need to provide better quality signal to the clients and this is where antennas help a lot. You can shape the signal you want, for example, down an isle. Or if you need to wall mount an AP but direct a signal to a specific area then an antenna can do that job for you.

Client balancing

Sometimes the client balancing feature within Meraki can cause issues with clients on voice calls. I’ve seen clients on a VoIP call get dropped due to client balancing. In a warehouse, scanner guns weren’t roaming properly because some APs had more users than others so client balancing was affecting how users were roaming.

Band steering

Clients ultimately decide where they want to go. So why force them over to 5 GHz if 2.4 GHz is better? Or maybe the device is a 2.4 GHz only client? Another way of doing this is to create two specific SSIDs for each band. Either way, sometimes band steering doesn’t work the way we expect it to because clients control where they want to go.

RRM

RRM can be a very useful feature if you have many APs. It can help tune your environment. But most people don’t tune their settings in favor of RRM. So we see suboptimal settings selected for each AP. Honestly, sometimes the Meraki algorithm doesn’t pick ideal settings. Sometimes static configuration can be beneficial if RRM isn’t making the right choices.

Hidden network for mesh

If you aren’t using mesh capabilities, submit a ticket to have this feature turned off. By default there are hidden networks being broadcasted for mesh. You don’t see them but they show up on a validation survey.

Meraki Weirdness

Are you seeing these narrowband spikes when viewing the RF Spectrum within the dashboard? Do you see the same thing at channel 1, 4, 5, 9, and 11? Here are examples from our networks:

François’ networks:

Rowell’s network:

CTS 143: Tips On Becoming A CWNE

Coming off the end of the CWNP WiFi Trek conference, we go over our tips for becoming a CWNE.

Tips on Becoming A CWNE

Sometimes, we get sone questions from you guys about what it takes to become CWNE and if we have any tips. After seeing how many people at the CWNP WiFi Trek conference wanted this kind of advice, we decided to combine our tips together and provide our insight. These tips are based on our own experiences and we hope you find it helpful.

Take it one step at a time

Learning the 802.11 protocol takes time. Don’t rush the learning process. Understand what you’re trying to learn and explain it to others as a way to reinforce the learning.

Start taking frame captures

Get started early when it comes to doing frame captures. As you begin getting into the nitty gritty details the more you’ll understand as you get into the professional level certifications. Learn how to capture frames during your CWNA certification study. Do it alongside the theory and it will be engrained in your mind.

Get ahold of the standard

Reading about wireless from the 802.11-2016 standard is getting it from the source. Although it is dry material, it is the actual standard in which all training material is based out of.

Structure studying

Book the exam before you start studying for the certification. This changes your mindset and gives you and end date to complete your studies. If you don’t do this you’ll make more excuses as to why you don’t have it done. Set it in the calendar and create a schedule. Let everyone, including your family, know ahead of time. There will be some time commitments to obtain your CWNE.

Take notes

Write your notes down in the form of blog posts. This is a great way to get your published content out there. Utilize the Notes app on iOS and macOS. Evernote is another useful note taking app to keep all your content together. It will make it easy to go over while in line at a store or during a break from work.

Get ahold of equipment

It’s much easier to get ahold of wireless equipment nowadays. Join a Meraki or Mist webinar and you can get an enterprise grade access point for free. Or check out the WLAN Pros Lending Library (United States only) to borrow some equipment to further your learning. If you have to, use your consumer grade home wireless for learning too. They all speak 802.11.

Get endorsers that know your work

Endorsers know about your work. This could be your colleague or manager. An endorser does not need to be a CWNE. Do not broadcast an email asking CWNE’s to endorse you, especially if they don’t know you or your work. But you can ask a CWNE or anyone else to review your essays.

Focus essays on the Pro level certs

We’re often asked what your essays should be written about. Focus a paper on each of the professional level CWNP certifications, Analysis, Design and Security. That makes it easy. If you can’t write something on each then pick one that best speaks to your experience. Each essay should demonstrate your technical knowledge as a CWNE. You’ll need great grammar as well. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Keep it to about 2 pages and don’t be afraid to add images and tables to your essay.

Publish articles

Write a blog about what you’ve learned from your CWNP studies. Or blog about your experiences out in the field in regards to wireless. You can also start a podcast about wireless or even create your own YouTube videos. You don’t have to write any whitepapers but you do want something published in your name. A blog is the easiest way to get started.

Links and Resources

CTS 142: Jussi Kiviniemi Discusses the Ekahau Acquisition

Ookla, makers behind Speedtest.net, have acquired Ekahau.

Ooklahau

Announced October 10th, 2018 Ookla has acquired Ekahau. The makers behind Speedtest.net are getting their hands into the Wi-Fi world by acquiring the maker of Wi-Fi validation tools. It’s a headscratcher of an acquisition. Speedtest.net is Ookla’s flagship product. It’s used by many people around the world. So why an interest in Ekahau, a maker of Wi-Fi validation software and tools?

My first guess is Ookla sees the future of Wi-Fi. They could build their own set of “speedtest” tools for Wi-Fi networks with the help of Ekahau. In return, this provides Ekahau with more resources to put towards Ekahau Site Survey and the Sidekick. It’s a way to further development.

It’s only natural to have reservations when the company in which you use their tools so often gets acquired by someone else. We just don’t want to see our favorite products fall by the wayside.

As I discuss with Jussi Kiviniemi, that’s not the case. They will continue to operate as normal. Their plans for Ekahau Site Survey development are still on schedule, they continue to work on the Sidekick, and continue to work on other projects.

What was evident here was the culture match between Ookla and Ekahau. Jussi Kiviniemi speaks strongly of this and is one of the major decision makers for the approval of the acquisition.

Listen in on what Jussi has to say about the acquisition as we have breakfast at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto.

CTS 141: Analytics Data & Wi-Fi

Nyansa provides visibility into your Wi-Fi network. What can you do with it?

Analytics Data & Wi-Fi

Coming off Mobility Field Day 3 (MFD3), Nyansa brings a couple of updates. There’s a lot of data collected and presented onto the dashboard. What could be challenging is understanding all the data you’re able to see. And it’s not just data from the Wi-Fi equipment. Nyansa’s product will gather information from other systems of your network such as RADIUS servers, DNS servers, and other data collected from SPAN ports.

As we all know, Wi-Fi issues are often not Wi-Fi at all. Collecting this much data really gives you a broad look at how the network is performing for the clients.

Where Nyansa can shine further is by providing data correlation to show you what’s the most critical issue or most impact there is on the network. The data is there in the dashboard but if there’s specific troubleshooting you’re trying to perform, you can dig into further based on clients, APs, DNS servers, etc.

Full Client Experience

What are we trying to get at with all this data collection and analytics? We want to understand how the clients are doing on our Wi-Fi networks. Down from Layer 1 and 2 all the way up to the Application performance. All these stats are collected within Nyansa and analyzed.

Nyansa now has the a client agent which can be installed on macOS and Windows. So much of the data we have been seeing from many solution providers is the point of view of an access point. Now with a Nyansa client agent, we can get a full picture of how clients are performing.

The ability to look at this information as a third party rather than from the vendor’s point of view can sound compelling. In a way we can actually begin holding various vendors responsible for their claims or help to improve client drivers, for example.

The Nyansa client agent

White Papers

Where Nyansa can really stand out is by providing white papers containing analysis of how Wi-Fi is performing based on vendor/drivers/applications and more. Recently, Nyansa released information gathered across their client base which shows the impact of the Cisco and Apple partnership. Do we see better roaming with Apple devices because of this partnership?

This is the kind of data which can create an impact in the industry. It might not be the actual direction Nyansa wants to go as a company but that type of information is at their grasp.

Nyansa findings from Cisco and Apple partnership

Final Thoughts

Nyansa collects a mind blowing amount of data. Where they can improve is in providing better root cause analysis to help point an operator to an actionable result. Having this amount of data at your fingertips allows someone to get detailed information into how their clients are interacting with the network and how that experience is for the user. Where Nyansa may have a missed opportunity is in analyzing different vendors, drivers and even security. We haven’t really seen Nyansa utilize AI to the extent with other vendors but there’s potential. Overall, more information collected the better but can lead to information overload if not handled properly.

Links & Resources