Xirrus unveils 802.11n RF analysis manager

Sept. 30, 2009
Xirrus, Inc. has released its RF Analysis Manager (RAM), a software application for testing and troubleshooting of 802.11n wireless networks.

September 30, 2009 -- Xirrus, Inc. has released its RF Analysis Manager (RAM) software application for testing and troubleshooting of 802.11n wireless networks. The RAM application is part of a family of functionality packages for the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array platform, which includes the RF Performance Manager (RPM) and RF Security Manager (RSM). RAM is now available at no extra charge in the company's ArrayOS 4.0.6 release.

The company maintains that 802.11n is rapidly becoming the technology of choice for Wi-Fi networks worldwide due to its increased bandwidth and recent ratification by the IEEE. However, the deployment of 802.11n presents a set of unique challenges based on technology differences with legacy 802.11a/b/g networks, both on the wireless infrastructure and client side. Xirrus' RAM equips each Xirrus Wi-Fi Array with a powerful set of tools and features to optimally tune and verify an 802.11n installation, as well as give IT administrators the ability to troubleshoot issues that may occur within the wireless environment.

Xirrus further contends that the rollout of new network technology standards into production environments typically comes with a set of interoperability, performance, and functionality issues. Though 802.11n was just ratified this month, it has been deployed into production networks for over 18 months since its certification in Draft 2.0 form by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2007. The 802.11n standard will continue to evolve over the next several years with additional performance and optional functions, along with ongoing stream of IEEE 802.11 amendments. This changing wireless landscape mandates that appropriate tools are available to the user to analyze, optimize, and troubleshoot their changing environments.

The distributed architecture of the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array enables the execution of wireless and networking analysis at the edge of the network where packets traverse the wireless-to-wired boundary. Unlike traditional thin access points that back haul information gathered for analysis – in many cases unencrypted – over the network to a central controller, Xirrus notes that its Wi-Fi Array includes an embedded Wi-Fi Controller with the necessary computing and memory resources to provide these functions securely at the network's edge.

The key elements of the Xirrus RAM application include:

-- RF analysis: An embedded spectrum analyzer leverages the dedicated threat sensor radio in each Wi-Fi Array to provide a continual view of utilization, interference, and errors across all available Wi-Fi channels.

-- Packet analysis: Integrated packet capture provides filterable views of all traffic traversing on the wired and wireless interfaces of the Array.

-- Performance analysis: Embedded traffic generation enables the throughput of the wireless or wired interfaces of the Array to be analyzed.

-- Failure recovery: Radio assurance provides an automatic self test and self healing mechanism that ensures continuous system operation.

"RAM is a collection of powerful tools for those users that need them," comments Dirk Gates, founder and CEO of Xirrus. "They provide the ability to troubleshoot wireless and network issues dynamically as they arise without having to deploy special purpose, expensive alternatives. Some experienced users will find these tools useful to optimize a high performance and/or high density Wi-Fi deployment. Our technical support group leverages these same tools to perform remote diagnosis of issues in production environments, helping provide assurance to our customers that their Wi-Fi networks will operate and continue to do to so reliably."

Additional components of the Xirrus RAM package include: the company's Netflow support; network tools including RADIUS ping, ping, and traceroute; and diagnostics logs. On its web site, Xirrus also provides a set of free tools for troubleshooting and monitoring Wi-Fi on the client.

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