Review: Hot cloud-based tools for Wi-Fi hotspot management

Cucumber Tony, SputnikNet, Tanaza deliver management support for multi-vendor wireless networks.

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If you visit the access point's local web-based GUI using its IP address, you’ll see a simple page listing the access point model, version, and MAC address, along with the connection status to the Tanaza service. You can’t configure any access point settings from their individual web-based GUI, but a link is given to the Tanaza Dashboard.

After you login to the Tanaza Dashboard, you see a map and a summary of the status of your networks and access points. If there’s an access point down, you’ll see its location displayed on the map and listed in the summary details. A summary of each individual network is also displayed, showing a list of the access points for each. You can click on an access point to go directly to it’s settings.

The Tanaza Dashboard consists of two main tabs: Monitor and Configure. When on these tabs, you see a drop-down list on the top of the GUI to switch between the networks in your account.

On the Monitor tab, there are four sub-tabs. The first is an overview showing a map of the access point locations and a list of the access points along with a quick stats. The second sub-tab is Network Statistics, which shows you real-time network bandwidth usage on a graph for sent traffic and another for received traffic for about the past seven minutes. The third sub-tab is Access Point Statistics, which shows details on access point uptime, real-time data and packet stats, and a list of clients with their main details. The last sub-tab is Client Statistics, which shows clients currently connected to all the access points on the network with the same details from the prior sub-tab: access point name, SSID, MAC address, connected time, data sent/received, and the signal in negative dBm.

On the Configure tab, there are two sub-tabs. The first is Access Points, which shows a map and list of the access point locations in the selected network. You can click an access point to access its settings, which presents another set of sub-tabs. The first tab is Summary, which includes lists details like the access point model, firmware, MAC address, and its public WAN IP. From there you can also reboot the access point.

On the Base Station sub-tab you can set the access point name and location details and configure the optional SSH access. On the Radio sub-tab, you can configure the typical basic settings: mode (802.11b/g/n), channel width, channel, and TX power.

On the SSIDs sub-tab you can enable/disable the SSIDs for that particular access point. On the Internet Connection sub-tab, you can configure how you want the SSIDs on the access point to be configured with the WAN connection. For instance, you could select bridged with WAN to offer access to the main network or select NATed with a DHCP server to create a segregated network.

On the TCP/IP sub-tab you can enable DHCP or set a static IP for the access point's LAN connection. On the Advanced sub-tab, you can configure the settings for remote syslog, local access point web server, and scheduled reboots.

On the SSID sub-tab of the Configure tab, you see a list of the SSIDs you’ve created. You can select an SSID to edit its settings or click the button to add a new SSID, which presents another set of sub-tabs. The first is Summary, which gives you an overview of the SSID configuration and the access points broadcasting it.

On the Wireless Security sub-tab, you can configure how you’d like to offer access to users. You can choose to utilize WEP, WPA2-PSK, an internal splash page, or an external splash page with or without RADIUS authentication. There you can also enable/disable SSID broadcasting and client isolation. On the Bandwidth sub-tab you can enable a simple bandwidth limit for users connected to that particular SSID.

If you utilize the internal splash page, you’ll see a few more sub-tabs when configuring the SSID to edit and configure the splash page. This includes an integrated splash page editor, optional landing page, client timeouts and login limits, and white lists/walled gardens.

Throughout the GUI we found small question mark icons next to many of the settings, which you can hover over to get a better explanation. You can also access the Support Center with full documentation via the drop-down menu in the upper-right of the GUI. There you also find a shortcut to the Social Dashboard, where you can view the user reports on social logins if you pay for it. Though the Social Dashboard provides some great stats and demographics on social logins, it would be more user-friendly if they were added to the main GUI.

Overall, we found Tanaza to be feature-rich and useful for managing both public and private Wi-Fi access (WPA2-PSK only). Although the social login features add extra cost, they do provide more social functionality than the other solutions.

Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer—keep up with his writings on Facebook or Twitter. He’s also the founder of NoWiresSecurity providing a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service, and On Spot Techs providing RF site surveying and other IT services.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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