On April 9th, 2019, Ekahau announced their latest addition to their Wi-Fi tools portfolio, or should I say additions, as in multiple, as in more than one, even more than two. As an “Ekahau Master” I watched the 90 minute webinar, with the 15 minute pre-show (which, by the way, I highly recommend if you get the chance) and was just in awe. The amount of work that they have done since their last big announcement (the Ekahau Sidekick) just left me starstruck. There are a bunch of blogs and podcasts that were released, and have yet to be released as of this writing, detailing all the great things coming from the Wi-Fi guys in Helsinki.
This post is not about the new stuff. Well, kinda, but not exactly.
If you want to see all about the new stuff, go watch the webinar announcement, the link is in the previous paragraph. What has really prompted me to write stems from the 15 minute pre-show that you won’t see in the 90 minute webinar. I’ve gotten to the point with the Ekahau webinars where I tune in early just to hang out with the guys and talk shop. That couple of minutes can’t really be described, you just have to experience it to understand what I am talking about.
That period of time before the actual webinars I call “The Ekahau Time” and it’s why I am a fanboy of the crazy company near the Arctic Circle. (OK, technically they are 442 miles / 712 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, but close enough for my taste.)
Back in 2016 we (me and the other Wi-Fi guy at my un-named place of employment) had convinced our boss that it was time to invest in a Wi-Fi planning tool. Keep in mind up until this point we would eye ball most of our stuff using our radio background and just go from there. We got pretty close, and thanks to the resiliency of the 802.11 protocol, it worked fairly well.
Not great, but not horrible.
If your goal in life is to hit the “not horrible” level, then maybe don’t invest in a tool. If you want to maybe creep up to the “this is actually pretty good level” then get the right tool. From a fanboy, that tool is Ekahau Connect. If you want to get to the “wow, this is awesomely stupendously great” level then Ekahau Connect, in conjunction with Ekahau University is where you need to be.
The reason I throw the newly minted Ekahau University in the mix is two-fold; the great in person training and the ever valuable monthly webinars. The in-person training is second to none, and to quote Chris Reed, the first 2 days you don’t even touch the Ekahau product. You tell me another vendor that spends the first 2 days of their product training not talking about their product! Their reasoning is to design and implement awesome Wi-Fi, Ekahau believes you should actually understand Wi-Fi first.
As for the webinars. while the actual topic might not interest me greatly, or seem applicable, the banter before the webinar can be highly informative, funny, and the questions during the session might drive the conversation somewhere else. The tips and tricks that I pick up during these times do as much to make me a better Wi-Fi engineer/architect as the formal training I get to do once a year. The information is current, comes from the leaders in the field, I get it once a month, and it’s free. There is no complaining about that!
It was this decision in 2016 to finally get a real Wi-Fi design tool that has led to me becoming an Ekahau Master, getting my CWNE, and then ECSE, now ECSE Design. What makes me a fanboy of Ekahau is those milestones actually happened IN THAT ORDER!
I was asked to be an Ekahau Master before attending ECSE. Let that sink in a moment.
One of the first things Jussi Kivineiimiieeiieeeio said to me, actually asked me, at my first Masters meeting was, and I’m serious here, “do you use our product?” It was a dagger to my heart! Here I was, an “Ekahau Master” and they aren’t even sure if I use their product!
What rescued my crushed spirit, and solidified my belief in Ekahau, was when it was later explained to me that Ekahau, in pursuit of making the best tool for Wi-Fi professionals, and everyone for that matter, search out people that have unique experience in wireless in order to get their feedback on their tool and what can be done to make it better. They literally ask people to tell them what part of their baby is ugly, and then go and try to fix it.
As a professional, that is the battle cry, is it not? Ask the people who know and make a tool that does what they need it to, not what you think they they need it to do. Most people might not be aware of it yet, but they have released a new website focused on just feedback called ekahau.uservoice.com. Want to request something? Go there. Want to see if someone else has requested an improvement? Go there. Want to live only on Twitter and not use a more functional website? If that’s your deal, tweet to @ekahau and use #ESSRequest. They will evaluate it, give you feedback, and if enough people agree, they will adjust to our needs. Have you ever tried that with another industry leader? This is what makes them the best, and makes me a fanboy.
Does Ekahau Connect cost more? Yes.
Is there anything else on the market that can compete? No, and it’s not even close.
To paraphrase Keith Parsons, complaining about the cost of Ekahau is like wanting to drive a high end sports car and then complaining that it costs more than a Yugo. They both have an engine and 4 wheels, and you can debate if they should both be called a car, but what you get is vastly different. And it should be, the cost was vastly different. Can you survive with the Yugo? Maybe. What if you found a Ford, would that work? Of course. But with the introduction of the Ekahau Connect I have found that I simply don’t care about any other vehicle at this point. If you do Wi-Fi and you don’t know about Ekahau Connect, spend some time and go look at it here.
Maybe in the future some other company will come along and make a different, better, product and then I will be here touting their virtues and why I love them instead.
But I’ll tell you, that product better make me my coffee and deliver it in the morning, and quick, because I’m pretty sure Ekahau is already working on that!
**Disclaimer: While I am an Ekahau Master, Ekahau did not compensate me for this post, nor are they aware of or approve of this post. Also, the coffee thing is only a guess. If you watch the webinars, and listen to podcasts they are on, you might come to realize why I think they are working on that because they are really into coffee!