Friday, August 9, 2013

7Signal - Thoughts [Pre-WFD5]

[I have received a Webex presentation and in-person demo of the 7Signal product. This is also a stream of thought post.]

7Signal is a wireless performance and optimization company. Their products do not provide wifi, they monitor and test your wireless network, so that you can optimize it and get the best potential out of your investment.

There solution is listed below- [straight from the data sheet]
Solution components
Sapphire consists of three elements that measure, record, report, alarm, analyze, troubleshoot and verify 
1. Sapphire Eye: Unobtrusive ceiling-mounted scanners that measure large wireless coverage areas.
2. Sapphire Sonar Server: Sonar test servers are located in close proximity to application servers. 
Sonar Server is the endpoint for user experience measurements performed by the Eye units. Sonar 
reports results back to Eye units and then forwards those reports to the Carat Management Server.
3. Sapphire Carat Management Server: A centrally located Carat server stores, manages and 
analyzes the collected data from the Eyes. It provides reports and alarms and includes analyzer 

So there is the Sapphire Eye which you mount on the ceiling in your environment in the area in which you want to monitor and test. The Eye has 7 directional antennas which are utilized in all of the test. To say that it is "unobtrusive" I will beg to differ. It looks like a upside down flower pot. I know that I have some areas in which if I hung it from those ceilings, someone would hit their head. With that said, I understand the reason why it it so big, the antennas are not your cheap usb adapter 1.5 db antennas. They are big! There is a compass feature in the unit so that you can always know the direction of the antennas no matter how you mount it. 

The software is in two pieces, server software which runs/controls the test that the Eye performs, collects data and such. Second piece is the management console which you can access the reports and data that has been collected and processed. Graphs and charts and all sorts of data is displayed.
Since I didn't drive the console and have only a limited feel for it. Watch the videos and read the data sheets for a better look.

My explanation of the product is: "Hang a wireless engineer from the ceiling with all his tools 24/7 and get data. Giving you a real time site survey and analysis"

As explained, you can go with a CAPEX model, OPEX, or hybrid of the two. These models allow some flexibility depending on your organization.

My feelings without naming price, is it is on the expensive side. (I'm pretty cheap so take that how you will... Actually just contact a partner and find out for yourself.) If you take the offering and break it down into what a professional wireless engineer would bring to the job, then if think they are on par.

The OPEX model has a lot of intrigue. The list price is like buying an mid-level AP per month per Eye.

Include or not depending on options is a start-up analysis/recommendations from their engineers.

I was ask if I thought is was worth it from a colleague. I believe it has value and great potential for me, not sure that I can justify the price for my organization. The costs used in their calculator seem not to be in my ballpark as ROI and such. (If I could plug my own values in, might change a bit.) Now there is flexibility to move the EYEs around into spots that are having trouble and then work through that area.   

Currently I am thinking more about the product and the value. I will be watching the WFD5 stream to see what they present. I hope to update this post in the coming weeks as I will have flushed out some ideas further.

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