James, who is based in Tahlequah, Okla. with the tribal nation, has used Laptop Analyzer for three years and is a devout fan. ''It's very simple to implement. We use it for wireless surveys, detection of problem areas and some rogue access point detection,'' he says.
The Cherokee Nation has more than 2,000 employees and a wide-area network that spans an area of more than 7,000 square miles. Laptop Analyzer helps James home in on radio frequency interference and troubleshoot solutions for disruptions in wireless LAN service.
''A typical example of how we use Laptop Analyzer is to see if a desktop computer that's been moved inside an enclosed cabinet would have enough signal strength,'' he says. The IT manager also uses the tool to make sure that if computers are moved around an office, they do not suffer from interference. ''With Laptop Analyzer, we found one user's computer was in the path of several metal door frames, which blocked the signal, so we had to relocate the antenna for the access point,'' he says.
''IT managers used to be left on their own to hunt and peck to find these types of problems,'' says Wade Williamson, product manager at AirMagnet, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. ''Now there is enough information and intelligence in the box so they don't have to go to wireless school to learn this stuff. Laptop Analyzer listens to airwaves and digests the information automatically. It gives IT managers a list of what's wrong and here's what's causing you pain.''
Craig Mathias, principal at the Farpoint Group consultancy in Ashland, Mass., says the Laptop Analyzer's reporting and auditing features are critical for companies that fall under compliance regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
''Banks, insurance companies, health care organizations and other regulated sectors need third-party tools like Laptop Analyzer for compliance purposes,'' he says. ''Large enterprise-class wireless deployments should use these tools in conjunction with their traditional network management and monitoring software to provide for checks and balances.''
Mathias says Laptop Analyzer lets IT managers quickly produce reports that highlight network anomalies. ''They can find security violations, measure workloads and see if there are misconfigurations,'' he says. ''Wireless LANs will become the default LAN for a lot of enterprises over the next few years for data and voice. They will need products like Laptop Analyzer to help them manage this challenge.''
Other wireless software tools that made the grade with Datamation readers were OptiView OC3/OC12 WAN Analyzer from Fluke Networks, which took second place, and SpotLock from JiWire, Inc., and Elektron Enterprise Edition from Corriente Networks LLC, both of which were finalists.