Perhaps automation entered your business in the form of simple chatbots or one or two IoT devices. Maybe the next step wasn’t more automation, but was an expansion in the number of mobile, Wi-Fi capable devices. After that, you likely saw growing AI-capabilities, advanced robotics, and even more IoT devices. All that has led you to where you are today – a business where the lifeblood and foundation of almost every critical business process is an intelligent network, the likes of which has never been seen before.
Where do you go from here? What is the next step in the evolution of business as we know it? The answer is next-generation Wi-Fi automation, and it’s vital to your business if you want your intelligent network to actually remain intelligent.
What is Next-Generation Wi-Fi Automation?
Consider it automation informed by artificial intelligence. It’s more than platforms and devices that can follow simple tasks and gather Wi-Fi data for IT teams. It is proactive analytics and actionable intelligence. It is real-time optimization and reliable future-proofing.
Why is it important?
If your Wi-Fi network isn’t reliable and high-performing, your entire business is going to suffer. If devices can’t connect or have intermittent performance issues, many employees may be unable to work at their full potential. It might not be possible to communicate with customers or business partners. Devices that are supposed to provide analytics on machine performance may only work part of the time, making any conclusions drawn about necessary maintenance or upgrades only somewhat reliable. In short, if the Wi-Fi network isn’t optimized, a business isn’t optimized.
So why bring in automation to support optimization? Because businesses have anywhere from several hundred to several thousand connected devices. These devices generate tens of thousands of data packets per second. It’s impossible for human teams to analyze that information in real-time and true optimization happens as close to real-time as possible with proactive analytics. Reactive analytics only allow businesses to resolve problems after employees are affected and that results in a loss of productivity that businesses can’t afford.
How does it work?
At its most basic level, next-generation Wi-Fi automation platforms analyze the entire RF environment. This analysis goes beyond simple monitoring and extends past a company’s network, including an analysis of non-Wi-Fi interference and any nearby networks using the same airspace.
In this way these platforms are different from APs and their management platforms. Those platforms have a centralized focus on a business’s network infrastructure and often require manual input to run tests, view RF coverage, capture historical wireless traces, and perform similar tasks. Next-generation Wi-Fi automation platforms complement those platforms and enhance the optimization process by:
- Monitoring the entire RF ecosystem because every part of this ecosystem will affect network performance
- Running automated tests and stress checks 24×7
- Proactively reporting all issues along with actionable solutions
- Providing end user analytics
While platforms will differ, here are some general qualifications to look for.
Real-time and Historical Analytics
Both types of analytics are important when it comes to creating truly intelligent networks. Real-time analytics let you know what’s going on now so you can resolve any issues before they turn into crises. Historical analytics let you know whether the overall health and performance of your network is trending up or down, giving decision makers the power to make efficient, and budget-friendly upgrade/update decisions. To provide both analytics, next-generation Wi-Fi automation platforms should include:
- Constant monitoring of both frequency bands, day and night, even while the platform performs other operations, such as testing
- Proactive, automatic alerts to any changes in normal network operations
- Root cause identification and actionable resolutions with all alerts for reduced time spent problem solving and a quicker return to normal business operations
- Automatically saved historical analytics with data on long-term trends in areas like network utilization, interference issues, and infrastructure performance for improved future-proofing
End User Metrics
An important step in optimization is understanding how the network infrastructure used by end users is performing. To test this, work with a platform that can connect to the network as an end user device when running tests. This gives IT the end user metrics they need to know if and how the network needs to be changed.
All tests should be run on a scheduled basis to provide IT with up-to-date information at all times.
Optimizing and protecting intelligent networks needs to be an ongoing process. This requires IT to have the ability to review network analytics and troubleshoot reported issues at any time, from any location. Platforms should allow IT teams to perform their critical responsibilities whether or not they can reach the office.
Not only does this help when teams can’t travel, it also supports teams that are responsible for multiple locations, or even one sprawling campus, by allowing them to review the entire network from one central location, greatly reducing travel time and improving the Mean-Time-to-Resolution.
Support for Every Office
From warehouses to skyscrapers and remote sites, next-generation Wi-Fi automation platforms support the entire spectrum of technology and software that create intelligent networks. They help to ensure that optimized networks are always available, ready to support the growth of businesses in every industry.
As networks grow more and more complex, be sure to bring next-generation automation to your business today, proactively supporting operational efficiency and giving your business every edge over your competitors.