AirMagnet Spectrum XT Review

The most valuable features are the Survey PRO/Planner and the ability to do the everyday bread-and-butter wireless site surveys. False positives could be improved.

What is most valuable?

Right now, the most valuable features are the Survey PRO/Planner and the ability to do the everyday bread-and-butter wireless site surveys for our customers.

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, it's more or less how it has helped our customers. It's really more for them. The tool enables us to do these site surveys and really pinpoint where access points need to be, where lack of coverage would be. I cannot say it takes away 100% of the guessing, or shows the one area where you're like, "Okay, well, you’ve got to add a couple." Nonetheless, for the most part, it really does a solid job for our customers letting them know, "Hey, you don't need 50 access points. Maybe you just needed 36 based on the floor plan you provided us and us walking the entire site." It's a tool that gets us to the closest number that a customer should be spending.

What needs improvement?

The spectrum analysis tool, the Spectrum XT, is the one product that definitely has some room for improvement. That could just be driven by some of the other competitive products that we've seen out there. I've been told by some of my more senior guys that the Spectrum XT generates too many false positives. It's not as accurate as other tools that are out there in the market such as MetaGeek. That's something that I definitely think they could improve upon for sure.

It needs better, tighter spectrum analysis. Anytime you can avoid interference in any type of environment, especially the larger, high-density stuff, that's where the product is just starting to see its roadblocks, maybe some of its limits. We're using it for really large stadium deployments. We're using it for really large public venues in what we consider high-density experience, as far as the number of people that are going to be in the venue with mobile devices or just wireless devices. Not being able to accurately predict interference and then engineer or react accordingly does cost us money. At times, it cost us more money than what I paid for the tool. Then, at that point, is when I really start looking at an issue.

Another thing that is a complaint from the guys is the inability to save a project using a newer version of the product that can be viewed by an older version. For example, if you’re using Word 2013, being able to save into a format that can be read by Word 97, a more basic Microsoft word processing product or just an older version of the software. That would definitely be helpful.

For how long have I used the solution?

As a company, our wireless practice has been using the product for well over five years. It's pretty much our standard for site surveys, predictive surveys, also spectrum analysis. Currently, it's the cornerstone for how we measure the air.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product seems pretty stable; stability seems pretty good. I don't really think that the product has ever hindered us from performing a survey. For the most part, it's stable, it boots up, it opens up and it works and it's operational. I wouldn't say there's any stability issues with the actual software itself.

How is customer service and technical support?

Support from NetScout is really good. Our representative does a great job. If I need to get a hold of anybody, she does a fantastic job.

I would honestly and solidly say they're at an eight out of ten. There have been a few times where we get somebody that is not as familiar with our issue or something like that, but from my personal experience, it's a 10. If I rate it cumulatively from the guys in the practice that use the product, which is quite a bit – we have over 20 engineers that use it daily – I put it as an eight.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Under my shepherdship of the practice, we have not previously used another solution. We've always used Fluke and NetScout.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is really straightforward. You can get all of the information online. You get the key for your login, which is given to you by Christine Riley who's our rep to help us with all of that. No issues there to be honest. No issues to report there.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I do not remember what other options they evaluated before choosing this product, because I took over the practice for somebody else. Particularly, I've let my team leads and my tech leads for wireless kind of decide what tools they want to use. However, NetScout is up for evaluation against MetaGeek on the spectrum stuff. We are definitely going to evaluate NetScout against some other competing site survey products from MetaGeek. That’s coming up in the next 24 months, as we prepare for the next cycle renewal. I don't know what was done before, when someone else ran the wireless practice. I did enterprise networking and wireless was rolled over to me when that person went to pre-sales. I have not done an evaluation but there is one coming up.

What other advice do I have?

The price is what it is, the tool does what it does. There really aren’t that many people in the market that have tools like this. I've heard of a couple of other people, but they're just as pricey if not more. It's an expensive tool, no matter what.

Make sure you're getting enough on that first-swing purchase because going back to the well for any large organization is difficult, especially when, for us, it was an almost-$400,000 purchase for a three-year renewal. It wasn't a cheap drop on the bucket either.

I think two of the products that we use in the suite are really, really, really solid. They're really good go-tos. I'm very confident that they will stay in our portfolio.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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