Review: Motorola RF Management Software v2.0 (RF Management Suite Part 4)
January 15, 2009
In the final installment of our four-part review of the Motorola RF Management Suite, we evaluate the WLAN status and performance monitoring tool that helps administrators to visualize and pinpoint problems in near-real-time.
Motorola RF Management Software v2.0
Price: From $ 4,595 for 50 APs
Pros: Strong visuals enable at-a-glance status and detailed performance analysis.
Cons: Multiple conflicting task methods; little historical reporting.
When we took Motorola's four-piece RF Management Suite out for a test drive, we used the integrated RF Management Software v2.0 (RFMS) component to visualize real-time status, current health, and recent performance. RFMS is a Java-based console designed to facilitate monitoring and troubleshooting of RF networks composed of Motorola APs, switches, and clients. By recording and analyzing the performance data collected from all of those devices, RFMS turns what you cannot otherwise see into colorful charts and graphs that convey both current status and statistical insights.
RFMS v2.0 can be deployed as a stand-alone monitor by purchasing a "base pack" (starting at $4,595 for 50 APs, maximum 2000 devices). But we tested RFMS v2.0 bundled with Motorola's Mobility Services Platform (MSP) RF Management Edition ($ 6,500 for 50 APs). When deployed in this fashion, there is no need to buy a separate RFMS license. However, RFMS then depends upon the MSP to collect site asset and performance data using SNMP (see part 3 of this series for our in-depth MSP review).
Getting started with RFMS
RFMS v2.0 runs on a Windows XP SP2 PC with at least a 3.2 GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB RAM, and 80GB of disk storage. All output is delivered through the included Apache Tomcat Web server and presented to users via Firefox 1.5, IE 6.0, Mozilla 1.7, or Netscape 7.2 browsers, equipped with JRE 1.4 or later.
As described in part 1 of this series, we tested RFMS v2.0 and MSP v2.9 servers that Motorola had installed on their own 3GHz laptop, which we accessed via RDP. With the integrated suite, both servers must run on the same PC. However, this review laptop was a bit under-powered, resulting in sluggish page refreshes and occasional hung sessions. We have no doubt that RFMS is more responsive and reliable on beefier PCs, but this GUI is also chock full of rapidly refreshing Java and Flash graphics. As a result, we recommend that RFMS users plan to meet or beat Motorola's minimum platform specs.
After stand-alone RFMS installation, Web user accounts must be configured, using one or two access levels: Admin users can access RFMS planning pages, while Support users are limited to troubleshooting pages. Integrated MSP RF Edition installations can skip this step, because MSP users are permitted to access RFMS Web pages with a single sign-on. MSP users just click on the RFMS button on MSP-displayed Site and Event pages to launch a new RFMS browser window that monitors that single Site.