Recently I attended Ekahau’s ECSE Advanced course. I had heard about the class through WLPC and knew the class had changed since its inception to include some really cool stuff so I jumped at the opportunity to attend.
During day 1 of the 3 day course it became apparent this was not going to be a standard class on surveys and wireless. After introductions and housekeeping we jumped right into the content. It was very refreshing to see that we would be covering more processes and workflows than the actual software and how to use it. The curriculum was very timely as well as I am working in my day job to build a team of engineers doing designs and surveys. Workflows and processes are always the hardest thing to deal with and get in place when building a team. As we continued the discussions of how and why certain workflows should occur within a team of engineers and surveyors you could see lights going off in the attendees heads and the discussion began to pick up with lots of ideas, information and thoughts around the subject. Things definitely started clicking for me on how the team should be setup for management and project sharing.
We then continued on with a discussion around Foundation of Success for a wireless project. Most of us that have been doing this for any length of time already have our idea of success and what determines success. But the discussion around this subject and the content was very thought provoking. Success has 4 foundations that equate to a repeatable process that, when followed will provide the same outcome each time which is what we are looking for with our projects.
The discussion then moved to how to work in teams with Ekahau files and manage the project files successful. This is not as easy as it sounds if you have teams of engineers and surveyors out on multiple projects that are complicated sites and they split the workload and then need to bring it all together. This is where a majority of teams begin to struggle. We then did an exercise within our lab groups to show how this works and the importance of following the workflows and lifecycle laid out at the beginning of the project. Things can quickly go off the rails as we found out.
The second day of class we began discussing Ekahau Connect and how the tools we have in Ekahau Pro help with teams of multiple users as well as the cool new tools Ekahau has added for the Sidekick, like Packet Capture and Cloud Sync. We began leaning on our wireless skills and knowledge for the labs we did at this point. We did a couple of surveys to capture data then did some analysis for spectrum analysis to get used to the RTFM interface. Once this was complete it was time to really use the RTFM and find hidden interferes in and around the classroom space. This is always a challenge and definitely helped remind me how important it is to go back to your roots in RF.
Finally we discussed and did some labs around attenuation testing and mapping. This is becoming more of an integral part of wireless surveys in many different forms. When used correctly the information gathered from attenuation readings can help to build out an information database for your team as well as cutdown on the time on-site APoS surveys can take, but still provide just as much data.
The class then finished on the final day with discussions around file manipulation, scripting and report templates. These three topics can really help shape how a wireless team uses the data from surveys and can really set the team apart from others. The scripting and manipulation is still new to me so I will not comment too much on it, but the report template aspect within Ekahau is one of the most important items of the software. We have for years written reports with a standard template and then copy and pasted screenshots and data sets from within either AirMagnet or Ekahau for presentation to a customer. Inevitably a reference to a previous customer or project would get lost in the shuffle and lots of late night quick editing would need to occur. With the way Ekahau handles report templates teams can save literal hours and even days in reporting. Beware before starting down the road, the templates are written in JSON either some knowledge is needed or some strong Google-Foo. When starting for the first time it seems overwhelming on the templates but as you get into and understand how things work and use the Ekahau site for reference and examples it comes quickly. Which is needed for the final exam for the course.
The course finishes with using data from the project we worked with during the week being used to build a report based off an example report. The example is what the final report should look like and we needed to build the code and formatting within the JSON template. This proved a little overwhelming for some, just because JSON may have been new and they had not dealt with the templates previously. It was a little bit of a challenge, but again was good as it helped to provide different aspects on reports and some ideas on formatting that I had not thought of previously, including using the Notes and Pictures features within Ekahau.
After the final, my head was full of ideas, thoughts, questions and excitement which is exactly what a course should do for us. The ECSE Advanced is more than worth the time and cost, especially if you manage or work with a team of multiple engineers and surveyors. The training arm of Ekahau has again scored big with this course in my opinion.