Often, networks as a whole are configured correctly, with no major network issues reported by users or seen on network device monitoring logs. However, even in these circumstances, there may be some clients with a less-than-satisfactory experience. Issues with authentication, association, roaming, IP assignment, and poor throughput are examples of what might be experienced by individual wireless clients, and it may not be obvious where the problem lies.
There may also be instances where a wireless admin might want to verify the effects of network changes from a client standpoint, e.g., a driver update or device refresh, a configuration change, or physical topology changes in AP location or count. The WLAN admin can now verify the new RF metrics and compare them against previously recorded baselines.
There also exist dynamic larger-scale RF environments, such as warehouses and stadia, where the client density and signal propagation constantly change. When filled to capacity, these RF environments are very different from when they are empty, which impacts wireless device connectivity. There will be different issues to contend with when they are full, such as attenuation and absorption of signal, dense client distribution with multiple clients on a single AP, interference from other 802.11 sources, etc. As the space empties, there may be issues involving cell overlap and multipath interference as signals get reflected. Aside from variances in usage and traffic on the network, there would be no other indicators to show the unique state from the client perspective.
Meraki Health is a suite of tools and analysis to assist wireless administrators by providing each client’s unique perspective of connectivity to the WLAN, allowing network administrators to drill down into client issues and have visibility into the connection state of a single wireless client.
Accessing Client Health
From the Meraki Dashboard, navigate to the Network-wide > Monitor > Clients page. Once there, select an individual wireless client to open the Client Details page. On that page, a schematic of the client connection to the network is depicted as below.
The diagram provides a snapshot of the current or most recent client connection and the path to the network's layer 3 gateway. Administrators are able to hover over each icon and link to gain visibility into different metrics that would dictate the health of a connection or device along the path. Metrics such as RF channel utilization, traffic usage, interface port statistics on a switch, as well as packet loss on a Security Appliance will be shown and categorized as Good, Fair, or Degraded. This helps to identify the root cause of an individual client’s poor wireless experience. The admin can now take actions to remedy the problem and then confirm from the client connection path that all metrics are in a ‘Good’ status.
The wireless client is depicted as a blank square, and it connects via a wireless link to the AP. Each device and link is reviewed for optimal performance, and hovering the mouse over one of the links will display statistics relevant to that link.
Wireless Client to MR Access Point link
This link will show the SSID the client is connected to as well as the current data speed (uplink / downlink).
MR Access Point
The access point icon shows the device type, LAN IP address (showing whether it is DHCP or Static), and usage data. It also has Packet Capture and Ping tools available for quick troubleshooting and a link to the AP's status page in Dashboard.
MR Access Point to MS Switch Link
This link's metrics include packet counters for packets forwarded on the link, the port status (connected, disconnected, duplex and link speed), and basic configuration of the connecting switchport (VLAN and port mode).
If the port has any warnings or issues, they will be reflected in the status with a Warning icon and additional details of the issue.
The switch icon shows device name, model, and LAN IP, as well as details about network services seen by the switch. It will show a Good state if there is no connectivity related alert, a Bad state if the device is unreachable, and Warning state for issues with the switch's connectivity to Dashboard or for any service-related issues. It also has a Packet Capture tool available for quick troubleshooting and a link to the switch's status page in Dashboard.
Please note that links to switch stacks, link aggregated ports will not be shown in the Client Health widget. Mesh links might not be shown the right way in case there are APs that do not support MR 27.X firmware version.
MS Switch to MS Switch Link
In most enterprise networks there will be cascading switches at different layers in the path from the closet to the IDF and MDF (access, distribution, and core). In these instances, the packet counters and port data from both switches will be shown when hovering over the link.
MS Switch to MX Security Appliance
The link between the Security Appliance and a switch will show packet counters and port status metrics such as the trunk status, number of forwarded packets, native VLAN, and duplex information, similar to an MR Access Point to MS Switch link.
MX Security Appliance
The MX security appliance icon will show device name, model, and public IP, as well as details for device connectivity and usage. Statistics include loss and latency to a given IP for uplink connectivity tests, as well as usage over a given time period. It also has a Packet Capture tool available for quick troubleshooting and a link to the appliance status page in Dashboard.
Client Connections Tab
To the right of the overview tab, the connections tab displays overall connection statistics specific to the selected client on the network. The administrator is able to both view and classify connections according to any combination of parameters- SSID, AP Tag or individual access points.
From this tab, the administrator is able to both view and classify connections according to any combination of parameters- SSID, AP Tag or individual access points.
The data displayed can be as recent as the preceding hour, or as far back as 6 months ago.
To view connection data specific to an SSID, click on the drop down and it will present you with the SSID list. You can either select the desired SSID or type it in the SSID field.
The same filtering can be done by AP Tag. Select the AP tag from the dropdown, or type the AP tag in the search field.
The same goes for the AP selection field.
Any combination of these filters can be used to view connection data specific to the client.
Client Connections Tab Statistics
The data shown in the overall connection stats table is subject to the aforementioned filter parameters of Time duration, SSID, AP Tag and individual AP.
Below the connection stats is a list of the SSIDs the client connected to which experienced problems. This info can be filtered by connection steps: Association, Authentication, DHCP, and DNS. In this case, PML-WIFI is the SSID seeing issues.
All the info shown in blue are clickable links, which can be followed to gather more information on the problem. Clicking on the SSID allows you to view the SSID access control configuration or filter the client connections by that SSID.
Clicking the number of failed connections and the primary failure stage directs to the failed connections table, with filters for the client and SSID applied.
From the above list, the failure reason "Client failed 802.1x authentication to the RADIUS server" is provided. The info note next to the reason provides possible causes of this problem. In this case, potential causes listed are RADIUS server misconfiguration, VLAN misconfiguration, and others.
A breakdown showing the failures at each step of the connection is also shown. It classifies each of the failure stages as a percentage of the overall failures experienced by the client. This provides visibility as to where the problems lie for the client not being able to connect and/or pass traffic. Clicking any of the numerical values directs to the failure reasons table with a corresponding filter applied. In the diagram below, 33% of the connections by the client are failures. There are no other points at which the connections fail (0% failed to associate, 0% failed dhcp, 0% failed DNS and 0%failed to pass traffic).
The success rate of all connections is (100% - 33% fail to auth) = 66.7%
Client's Performance Tab
Performance for individual client devices can be seen from Network Wide > Clients > Performance. This tab will show you all the metrics around that specific client. There are a few toggles that can be used to view performance metrics for a given period of time, a specific SSID, a specific AP that the client is connected to or select a give band i.e. 2.4GHz or 5GHz or both.
Note: The Performance tab and the content on it are supported with firmware version MR27.1 and above. Please check the APs that support this firmware version here. In case of legacy APs being present in the network, all graphs might have gaps in the information shown since most of the information is pulled from multiple APs.
Events on the X-axis is rendered based on the number of events in a given timestamp. More even in the give time span, more dark shade will be used to indicate the same.
The Usage graph shows the bandwidth consumption of the client in the specified time range across all APs. We further narrow down the data to the top used application by the client and highlight them on the left panel as seen in the below screenshot. Hovering over the grah will provide exact value in terms of usage at a given timestamp.
Just below the Usage graph, you can see two additional connectivity bars. The purple bar is dedicated to show events for client connections i.e. Association, authentication, disassociation in the time span defined. The blue bar will show wireless connectivity on a given AP within the defined time span. This information can be used to identify clients bouncing between APs or not having connectivity at all at a specific time.
Note: The value on the Y-axis for Usage is not maximum and is only a scale for perspective. A user can hover over the maximum peaks of the graph to get the actual value. This is applicable for all graphs show in the client performance tab.
The Signal Quality graph will show either the RSSI or the SNR value for the client in the specified time stamp. The graph has a selector for RSSI or SNR. On the left panel of the graph there will be a pie diagram showing the average SNR or RSSI value above a specific threshold value. Again this graph will have the two client connectivity bars as explained above overlaid for better understanding of the client connection as the signal quality changes over time. The graphs are also colored for a better understanding of the signal quality.
Hovering over the graphs you can see the actual SNR or RSSI value at any specific time stamp.
Average Wireless Latency
The average wireless latency graph will measure the latency seen for all the packets across the wireless medium for the selected client device. Hovering over the graph will show information on the actually wireless latency value. The wireless latency value does not take into account the QoS tags or any specific types of packets, this value is calculated based on all the packets sent over the wireless medium to the client device.
The graph has a selector to view the Slowest APs in terms of Wireless latency. Once this is selected, Dashboard will highlight the APs which have the highest average latency to which the client connected in the selected time span. The average latency for an AP is calculated by averaging the wireless latency for individual clients connected to a given AP. Based on the average latency for all AP, the slowest APs in the network will be shown in this list.
AP Channel Utilization
AP channel utilization will be the channel utilization seen on the AP to which the client is connected to in the selected time span. Dashboard will automatically pull information from multiple APs as the client moves between the APs in a given network. Hence when seeing the AP channel utilization graph, a network administrator can be rest assured that all the information from multiple APs is being presented in once single graph for easy understanding.
As you can see in the above graph we do have a selectable field to either view 802.11 traffic or Interference (non 802.11) or both. The graph is overlaid AP channel utilization with the connectivity bars in order to have clear understanding for the client connectivity.
The AP usage graph shows the utilization of the AP over the selected time span. This value is added from all the clients connected to the AP at a given time. As clients roam between APs this information is pulled from multiple APs and shown in a simple graph for better understanding.
Hovering over the graph you can see the actual value for utilization over a given time.
AP usage is the wireless throughput on the AP where the client is connected at a given time. As clients roam to different APs we will pull information from those APs. Hence the information shown on this graph is not from one AP but is pulled from all the AP the client has roamed to in the selected time span.
AP # of clients
The number of clients on the AP is a value pulled from all the APs where the client has roamed. Based on the time stamps when the client roamed to another AP, Dashboard has created the graph for better understanding.
Hovering over the graph you can see how many clients were connected to the AP at a given point of time. As you hover over another time stamp the information might be from a different AP to which the client has roamed.
Data rates graph shows the data rate at which the client is connected to the AP. As the client roams across multiple APs, Dashboard pulls this information from all the APs at different time spans as required.
Hovering over the graph will show the exact data rate at a given time for the client. The graph is also colored based on the Data rate values used for connection. In the Data rates graph there is a selector that will differentiate the Upload, Download and Average data rates for the client. Also the Data rate graphs is overlaid with connectivity bars as explained above.
Client History Tab
The Client History tab is designed to show historical information about events for the client device. There are multiple selectors available for this tool such as the SSD, AP, BAND, Failure Step, Failure severity as shown in the below screenshot.
Events related to the connection of the client device are captured in the History tab. The main parameter that we have designed this tool is to understand if the connection was successful or not. In order to provide more information around the connection we have captured other variables such as which AP the client was trying to connect, time to connect, the SNR value for the connection.
In case the SSID is a 802.1X authenticated SSID then we will capture the active RADIUS server’s IP address and also the reason code in case the connection does not go successful. A sample of failed authentication can be found in the below screenshot:
Since the Dashboard captures the information in case the connection is not successful, Dashboard will provide possible causes as to why the connection might be failing. In many cases we have noticed that this would help the network administrator to understand and take next steps in order to resolve the issue. Network Administrators can look into their RADIUS server codes in order to get more context around this.
The above screenshot shows the possible causes and the remediation steps outlined in the History tab itself.
AP Summary Tab
The AP summary page will extract information on a per AP level and display the wireless health metrics on the AP summary page itself. The below graph will be enabled on all the APs in any wireless network.
Clicking on the above widget will take you to the updated event log page for the specific AP. This page will display all the issues encountered by the client devices on a particular AP.
AP's Connections Tab
The AP connections tab can be found under Wireless > Monitor > Access Points, on an AP's status page. This tab will show an aggregate of all connections through the access point, as opposed to that of an individual client. The connection stats can be filtered by duration (up to a month’s worth of connections are stored), by SSID, or both.
The connection stats will then show the total number of connections based on the SSID/duration filter, the percentage of the successful connections, and the number of failed connections.
On the same page a list of problematic SSIDs on the chosen access point is provided.. This info can be filtered by failure step as shown below.
A breakdown showing collated client failures at each step of the connection is also shown. It classifies each of the failure stages as a percentage of the overall connection failures seen by the access point. This provides visibility into problems that multiple clients are having when connecting to, and passing traffic on, the particular access point. Clicking any of the numerical values directs to the failure reasons table with a corresponding filter applied. It will display the number of clients experiencing the same failure. As an illustration, in the diagram below, of all the clients connections through the ap, 82% successfully connected, while 0.8 failed to associate and 17.2% failed to authenticate. All the numerical values are active buttons and clicking on them directs to the failed connections of the ap event log.
Schematic of failure steps through a specific access point
Clicking of the ‘17.2% fail to auth’ failure step will take you to the Event Log tab with a filter pre-applied, as shown below. The table can then be filtered further using the filter parameters of time duration, client, SSID or failure step.
AP's Performance Tab
The Performance tab is used to see different metrics around how the AP is performing with the wireless clients connected to the AP. he are multiple parameters that Dashboard is recording and will display them in a graphical manner for better understanding. A time selector is present at the top that will change the graphs depending on the timestamp selected. Also a network administrator can look for a specific SSID or band of interest when selecting and monitoring all the Performance graphs.
The Usage graph is used to show the amount of wireless data AP is transferring over time. The graph is overlaid with AutoRF information where you can see the purple bars highlighting the Auto TX power and Auto Channel changes over time.
Hovering over the graph will show you the actual usage at a specific time stamp.
Note: The maximum value on the Y-axis is for scaling purposes, you can hover over the peaks in the graph to understand the utilization of the AP.
The Clients graph will show the number of active wireless clients connected to the AP across the timespan selected. Higher number of clients on one AP may result in poor performance and higher channel utilization.
This graph is overlaid with AutoRF events for the specific AP. Hovering over the graph in the purple bars will show the number of clients along with any AutoRF change that might have occurred in that selected time frame.
Note: The maximum value on the Y-axis is for visual representation only. Hovering over the peaks in the graph will give the actual maximum number of clients.
Average Signal Quality
Average signal quality graph has a custom selector for RSSI value SNR value. Depending on the selection the representation of the graph will change. The Dashboard will average the value of RSSI and/or for all the clients connected to the AP at a given time and display it in the graph. So if you see wireless issues in a specific area this graph can be really handy in order to understand if the signal quality has dropped over a specific time span.
The graph is overlaid with AutoRF events indicated by the purple bars on the X-axis. The graph will also change colors indicating lower signal quality across all clients.
Average Wireless Latency
The Average Wireless Latency graph will calculate the wireless latency for individual clients connected to the selected AP and will average out the value for all the connected clients at any given time. This will provide a overview of how the latency is across all the clients connected to a selected AP.
Hovering over the graph peaks will provide the maximum wireless latency on the AP. The Dashboard will also create a list of slowest clients connected over time and you can select this tab from the selector shown above. The graph is overlaid with all the AutoRF events and also is color coded in order to highlight the overall wireless latency.
This can be used to identify any specific clients that are exhibiting slowness when connected over the WiFi network. If there is a spike in latency for one specific client, then a network administrator can look into the client’s Performance tab in order to isolate any specific issue related to the client.
The Channel Utilization graph displays a percentage value of the channel usage by all the clients operating on that channel. The graph provides a selector that will allow to select between 802.11 traffic and interference (non-802.11). As the channel utilization goes up the clients may see higher latency and reduced throughput as well. Hovering over the graph will provide the channel utilization percentage value at a given time stamp.
The graph is overlaid with AutoRF information for better understanding. Using this correlation a network administrator can visualize if a channel change was better for the wireless client connected to that AP.
The Data Rates graph is used to display the average data rates across all client devices connected to the AP in the selected time span. As you can see the Data Rates will be shown by hovering over the graph itself. The graph also provides a selector between Upload, Download and Average Data rates across all devices on the AP.
The maximum value on the Y-axis is for scaling and is not the maximum value of Data Rates. Hovering over the peaks will provide the maximum value for Data rates in the selected time period.