Client 360: AI-Driven Client Health and Behavioral Analysis

In a recent interview, I was asked: “What are the current pain points when it comes to monitoring LANs?”I thought long and hard about the latest technology trends. “What weird and wonderful things could I talk about?”, I thought. After much pondering, it hit me:

The biggest issue encountered by IT teams is one they’ve faced for years – delivering a network that ‘just works’.

How does this relate to monitoring? Despite there being advancements it self-governing networks and auto-remediation (Aerohive’s AI-driven Wi-Fi architecture is a perfect example), networks require a human touch to operate at full efficiency. Anyone that administers a network understands that no deployment is perfect. Every network has issues (even if they’re user-related). If you lack the toolset to understand and diagnose (monitor) your environment, you will ultimately fail to maintain it. A network without maintenance is one with unresolved issues. Unresolved issues result in a something that is far from ‘just working’.

The Wi-Fi isn’t working!

Let’s look at a common, real-world scenario – “I can’t connect, the Wi-Fi isn’t working!”At this point, every network administrator around the world is letting out a collective sigh of frustration. We’ve all been there. From the user’s perspective, they cannot access the web via the Wi-Fi, therefore, the logical conclusion is “the Wi-Fi isn’t working”.A reasonable assumption, right?  In actuality, it could be a host of different issues: invalid/expired credentials, DHCP server out of leases, unresponsive DNS server and so on. Conversely, it could be a Wi-Fi issue: incompatible encryption or data rates, poor signal strength, low SNR etc.

Network administrators spend much of their time identifying root causes. They’ll start by asking the affected user a list of questions to narrow things down. Next, they’ll check for anomalies across various systems: DHCP, DNS, AD etc. Eventually, with the issue in their crosshairs, a fix can be implemented. This is an inefficient use of resources. IT teams all around the world are spending a disproportionate amount diagnosing what are, realistically, straightforward problems. Expand this scenario to an organization with thousands of users raising issues with varying degrees of complexity and you’ll quickly find the IT team is swamped. If we can offload the lengthy job of diagnosis to AI, the network team can focus their efforts on fixing issues, maintaining the network and optimizing performance. On top of that, AI often detects problems that would otherwise go unnoticed.

In short, to achieve a network that ‘just works’, we need a powerful monitoring tool, something that not only helps identify issues but reduces the time spent finding them in the first place. That is why, when I first saw Client 360 in action, I thought “this thing is going to solve many headaches”.

Client 360

Ok, so what is Client 360 all about? Client 360 is Aerohive’s new monitoring tool that is enhanced by machine learning. It intelligently collates a wealth of data pertaining to client operation, connectivity health, faults, and performance, and presents them in a simple and informative way. In turn, this information can be used to quickly identify problems, resolve network errors, and optimize performance.

I’ve presented you with a screenshot of Client 360, but what can we actually gather from this. Let me break down some of the highlights:

  • Overall client health– going back in time, was there anything detrimentally affecting the connection health of this client?
  • Client Tools > Troubleshoot now– Click this button and HiveManager will analyze all client activity and automatically report any issues.
  • IP & MAC address, username, hostname and device type– what are the general properties of this device and how is it connected to the network?
  • Location– Where is the client located?
  • Signal strength (RSSI) over time– was the signal weak at a certain time?
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) over time– was the SNR too low at a certain time?
  • AP connection and roaming history– what AP was my client connected to at any given time, when, why and how often are they roaming?
  • Supported Mode– What data rates do the client support?
  • Spatial Streams– How many spatial streams does the client support?

If we scroll down, more information is revealed:

  • Application Usage– What applications is the person using and how much are they consuming?
  • Client Trail– What is the roaming behavior of this device, has there been a problem at any point while roaming? Is it occurring during the association or authentication stage? Is it related to DHCP? Maybe the DNS server? How long does it take for a roam to complete?
  • Client Events– An easy-to-understand packet capture analysis of key events.

As you can see, it’s exceedingly simple to get to the bottom of client connectivity and performance problems. Not only can this tool significantly cut down on the time spent diagnosing and fixing issues, but it can help uncover and resolve items that might otherwise go undetected. It also alludes to areas where performance can be optimized. For added convenience, Aerohive’s Client Monitor is directly accessible within Client 360. Client Monitor is a perfect companion, proactively scanning and detecting issues while providing helpful, suggested remedies.

It Just Works

Overall, Client 360 is a killer monitoring tool that collates all the need-to-know information on a single page. It makes life easier. It helps keep users happy. It gives back time. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love it!

We’re not stopping there though. Administrators will soon also see real-time and historical data for network resource access, such as DHCP and authentication statistics, which will then be rolled into the new Network 360 View, expected in Q4 2018. In the future, Aerohive also plans to converge the intelligence and feedback between Client 360 and its self-driving Wi-Fi architecture to further optimize networks based on individual client behavior.

We all want a network that ‘just works’. Fortunately, Client 360, Client Monitor and later this year, Network 360 are there to help!

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Nathaniel Moore (CWNE #222) is a Product Marketing Manager for Aerohive Networks with experience as a Systems Engineer in computer networking and wireless systems across multi-vendor solutions.

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