Review of Wireless Heat Maps in SolarWinds NPM

Wireless Heat Maps in SolarWinds NPM 11.5Review of Solarwinds Wireless Heat Maps

The increasing demand for wireless devices means that you need a proper management system.  For example, it's difficult to assess
Wi-Fi coverage because you cannot see dead-spots with the naked eye.

Throughout this review keep in mind that managing wireless heat maps is only one part of what SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor can do for your enterprise.

Overview of Wireless Heat Maps

  • View the wireless signal strength by automatically polling your access points.
  • Map the location of connected wireless clients within 3 meters.
  • Create a signal strength survey to assess wireless coverage at all your network locations, including remote sites.
  • The benefit of knowing where the signal strength is low, is that you can reposition the wireless points to improve network coverage.
  • Another benefit of a heat map is when a user complains that they cannot make a Wi-Fi connection, you can assess if it's their location or their device that is the most likely problem.

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Creating Wireless Heat Maps

This wireless heat map feature of Solarwinds NPM v 11.5 is deceptively easy to setup, but you have to give NPM a chance – provide a floor plan, or map of your area.  The crucial first step is to launch the NPM dashboard and then navigate to the Network Atlas area, see screenshot below.

Solarwinds NPM v11.5 - Create Wireless Heat Map

Solarwinds NPM v11.5 - Wi-Fi Heat MapMeasure to Set the Scale
Once you have imported a background image of the office plan, you must supply a measurement of one of the features so that the software can calculate the scale of the drawing.  No worries this is intuitive software; it even provides a reminder of the next step at the bottom right of the screen.

Drag and Drop Your Wireless Points
SolarWinds Network Atlas reminds me of using Microsoft's Visio program to create network diagrams.  The key point is that NPM already knows of the existence of the wireless access points, all you need to do is drag-and-drop them onto your map; to see what I mean study the screenshot below.

Solarwinds NPM v11.5 - Wireless Heat Map

Magic Moment – Wireless Heat Map CreationSolarwinds Wireless Heat Map Creation

To generate the actual Wi-Fi heat map click on "Take Signal Sample". What happens is that NPM will poll the signal strength of wireless clients on your floor plan.  When you need to resolve flaky wireless connectivity, then study the signal strength generated, and then add, or reposition the access points to improve coverage.

Due to the intuitive design of the map, the red areas indicate good wireless reception, and the blue stairwell shows a dead zone.  The scale at the bottom allows you to read the strength of the actual signal received in a particular area.

Known Problems
SolarWinds wireless heat maps don't work with Aruba, HP or other non-Cisco wireless LAN controllers.

Help from the Thwack Forum

If you have an old building, or a rambling remote site, remember that you can always get support on configuring your heat maps from SolarWinds’ experts at the Thwack forum.

Wireless Heat Map Video

Here is a good way to see how to setup wireless heat maps with SolarWinds expert Chris O'Brien:

Other Features of SolarWinds NPM v 11.5

Creating and managing wireless heat maps is only a fraction of the capability of SolarWinds NPM.

  • Built-in Capacity Planning.
  • Duplex Mismatch Detection.
  • Automatic Dependency Mapping.
  • Integrate Microsoft Active Directory.
  • Incorporate Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM).
  • Monitor Mobile Views for iPhone┬«, Blackberry┬«, and Android™.

Integration with other SolarWinds Management Solutions

If you take another step back you may realize that NPM integrates with all SolarWinds network, server and application management solutions, including Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Network Configuration Monitor (NCM), NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), and VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM).

Summary: Review of SolarWinds Wireless Heat MapsSolarwinds Wi-Fi Heat Map Summary

To take the guess-work out of anticipating the wireless dead zones in your office space, simply supply a plan of your building; NPM v 11.5 will use triangulation of wireless points to record the strength of the signal in each room; you can see a display the resulting heat map on the NPM console.

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More Free and 30-day Trial Virtual Machine Software

My recommendations for additional handy VM utilities.  Many of these downloads are free, while others are fully-functional, but time limited.  SolarWinds are happy to provide you with a free specialist tool, which is ideal for testing, and then supply a more comprehensive suite for larger organizations.  To let you into a secret, for small networks, the free tool is all you’ll ever need.

Virtualization Manager  • VMware Virtual Machine Console  • Storage Response Time Manager

VM Console  • VM Monitor for Hyper-V  • Free Traffic Analyzer  • Review AppInsight SQL & IIS

VM-to-Cloud   • Free WMI Monitor  • SolarWinds AppStack  • Wireless Heat Maps