Does WCS help you manage your WLC(s) ?

At first look, WCS (Wireless Control System) can be a little overwhelming. While positioned as an overall management option when dealing with multiple WLC’s, it offers a lot to those who only have one or two WLC’s. Think of it this way, the GUI of the WLC gives you an idea of what is going on with wireless at a specific point in time, WCS can give you more of a historical perspective. One thing that you will need to work with your helpdesk folks on is that they need to start giving you the mac address of the wireless card of the device having the problem. Simply telling you that wireless is having a problem wont cut it.

When troubleshooting a client having problems getting or keeping a wireless connection, the WLC console can tell you if the client is getting a connection to the AP(s) in the area and possibly what the problem is. If the problem is to the extent that the client cant even get a connection, it becomes a little more problematic on figuring out what the problem is. The WLC console can only show you if the client is currently connected or hasnt been dissassociated yet. This is where WCS can really help. As long as the device has been able to associate at some point, you will see when and where it associated to any AP on your network. You will also see what type of signal levels it has reported. This can help you see if you need to add additional access points before you start getting coverage hole alarms.

Another area where WCS can help is seen when RRM is causing more of a problem than it is fixing. One of the reports you can run will show you how often the AP’s are switching channels and what channels are being used. Until you can start implementing the newer CleanAir versions of the AP’ that are currently available, all you can tell is that something it causing the AP to need to change channels but not what. One thing that I have found is to watch for particular times of day (i.e. lunch or break times) for channel changes. If you see this happen, there is a good chance that a microwave oven is nearby. I have seen a Microwave oven over 70 feet away from an access point interfere with wireless coverage in an area. There are times that RRM needs to be disabled. You do that by locking down an AP to a specific channel on each band.

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