Network Management Suite
PRO APs support Edimax' Network Management Suite (NMS) to manage up to 8 Edimax Pro Access Points. NMS runs on an Edimax AP configured in Controller mode. Both the CAP1200 and WAP1750 support Controller mode.
NMS provides a single point for configuring Access Points and monitoring your network. The AP running in Controller mode can also serve as the RADIUS server for 802.1X authentication, be used to update firmware on the APs and used to tune and manage Wi-Fi channels and signal strength in a wireless network.
Interestingly, an AP running in Controller mode can also serve as an AP. But when you try to enable the AP, you are presented with a warning saying "To turn on the radio will influence NMS performance. Do you want to enable this?" I chose to leave the radio in the CAP1200 disabled when using it as a controller.
Setting the CAP1200 to Controller mode enables the Edimax NMS. Once in Controller mode, you'll see the NMS menus instead of the standalone AP menus.
To control other Edimax APs, the Controller needs to find them. The easiest method to make them discoverable by the Controller is to reset them to defaults. My previously configured WAP1750 was not initially detected by the NMS, so I set it to default, along with a second WAP1750, and both were quickly detected by the Controller.
The NMS menus include the same options available in AP mode as shown previously, plus a few more. I've listed the NMS specific configuration options below.
- Provides an overview of Managed APs, Managed AP Groups, and Active Clients
- Zone Plan
- Provides a graphical view of physical layouts with AP locations and signal coverage
- NMS Monitor
- Options to edit AP and AP Groups.
- Options to edit WLAN and WLAN Groups.
- Search tool for active Wi-Fi clients
- Search/Scan tool for Rogue networks.
- Event logs and graphs.
- NMS Settings
- Edit Access Points
- Edit WLANs
- Edit RADIUS
- Edit Access Control
- Guest Network Configuration
- Zone Edit
- AP Firmware Upgrade
- Advanced = Set system security and Date/Time
With both WAP1750s at factory defaults, the three-step NMS Wizard made it easy to discover the APs and set up a basic Wi-Fi network. The NMS Wizard automatically creates an AP group and WLAN group to get you started. Configuration delay, discussed in the previous section, seems to be shorter in Controller mode.
The Edimax NMS presents a useful dashboard, shown below, displaying system information, device counts, managed APs and AP Groups, and Active Client information.
Group configuration options are a handy efficiency in the Edimax NMS. An AP group can be created specifying network VLAN and radio configuration options. A WLAN group can be created with multiple SSIDs. Network, radio, and Wi-Fi settings can then be applied to multiple APs by assigning a WLAN group to an AP group, and then assigning APs to your AP group.
The Edimax NMS has a nice feature for uploading maps or floor plans and then placing access points in their actual physical location on the map. If you know the exact length of a section of the map or floor plan, you can drag a line on the map and enter its length. This allows Edimax to automatically set the appropriate scale.
I uploaded a JPG floor plan of my test area, set the scale, and placed the two access points in their physical locations on the plan as shown below. The concentric circles indicate signal strength, so you can see overlap between the two APs at the center of my home.
AP Floor Plan Tool
A feature on the Edimax APs is “fast roaming.” As Edimax describes it, fast roaming allows client devices to roam “smoothly between APs without lag or interruption, ensuring top performance for video and voice streaming applications” .
To test fast roaming, I ran a simple test by putting the two WAP1750s as far from each other as I could, as shown previously in my floor plan. I used a Windows 8 laptop with an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter as my roaming device.On my laptop, I ran inSSIDer, a Wi-Fi signal strength application, along with a continuous ping to Google's DNS server (ping 126.96.36.199 -t). inSSIDer shows real time Wi-Fi signal strength, the MACs of the surrounding Access Points, and identifies the AP I'm connected to. The continuous ping reflects network connectivity. The screenshot below shows inSSIDer on the left and the continuous ping on the right. The SSID I'm using is MDC11.
Fast Handoff Testing
For my test, I stood next to one access point, made sure I was connected to it, then walked toward the other access point. As I got closer to the other access point, the signal strength increased for the access point I was approaching and decreased for the access point I was originally connected to.
Eventually, my laptop “roamed” from one access point to the other. I walked back and forth between access points multiple times with the ping test running, and only once observed a single dropped ping as my laptop roamed from one access point to the other.
Any test of Wi-Fi roaming is going to vary based on building structures such as walls and doors and other obstacles in the area. It is also going to vary based on the Wi-Fi client device. Thus, this test can't indicate how all clients will behave, but it is a real world test. My conclusion from the test is my laptop was able to roam relatively smoothly, although the one dropped ping could have resulted in a brief degradation of a video or voice application.
The NMS also provides a Guest Network option. This option allows you to create a separate wireless network for external users and apply controls to keep them out of the internal network. As shown below, control options for Guest Networks include VLANs, Wireless Client Isolation, Load Balancing, Traffic Shaping, and IP Filtering.