NetMotion Wireless Brings Order to Mobility Chaos

NetMotion’s Locality cellular network performance management suite offers visibility into mobile workforce connectivity issues.

By Frank Ohlhorst | Posted Mar 27, 2014
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Mobile workforces need advanced support. When connected via a cellular network, connectivity and performance issues can create productivity challenges for workers using smartphones, tablets, and laptops. In other words, smart devices must be effectively managed to provide an acceptable level of service. They need a unified management platform with a single point of management across a range of devices and connectivity options. That's where NetMotion Wireless is positioning Locality V2.0.

Seattle-based NetMotion Wireless's Locality 2.0 is a cellular network performance management suite that offers the control and visibility needed to support, troubleshoot and optimize mission-critical mobile deployments across a multitude of common smart devices.

A Closer Look at NetMotion Wireless Locality V2

I tested Locality V2 in a pre-deployed environment set up by NetMotion Wireless. The test environment was an actual production environment used for all of NetMotion Wireless's own staff and mobile workers. Review screen captures have been sanitized to protect personal information.

Accessing the product took little more than logging into the NetMotion Locality cloud service. Once logged in, I was presented with a coverage map, which consisted of a whole-world view of the coverage area and supported zoom and drill-down into specific areas. I was able to quickly drill down to the Bellevue/Seattle area to identify areas of access.

NetMotion Wireless Locality coverage map

The coverage map is populated with color-coded blocks that show available coverage based on date range, as well as active usage data demonstrating signal strength, type of service (3g, 4g, LTE, etc), radios and carriers in use, and so on, making the Locality Coverage Map an excellent visual representation of mobile device activity and probably the best starting point to troubleshoot a given problem.

For example, I was able to quickly drill down into problems that a particular user (in this case, Chris) was having. I selected the Device Map, zoomed into the area, and filtered the map by device. That showed me the signal strength Chris encountered during his travels and at what locations he encountered performance problems.

NetMotion Wireless Locality device map

With the Locality map on the screen, I filtered the results further, zeroing in on a specific date, radio type, and carrier used. From that, I determined that poor reception caused the mobile application problem Chris encountered. That proves important, because I can present that information to the carrier and ask for a resolution.

Of course, there is a lot more to Locality that just identifying poor signal strength. It also helps determine device usage, for example by identifying top device users and what they used the devices for.

 I quickly gathered that information by selecting the Network Usage Chart and then filtering by date range. The service stores as much as 6 months of data. Once I created the chart, I could quickly figure out who the top data users were, what the most used applications were, and the amount of time and data usage associated with the applications.

This can yield some valuable data, for example by detecting employees violating company policy with excessive data usage for non-business tasks. Finding unused and therefore unnecessary devices to drop from a plan also becomes easy. What’s more, the top applications can be identified and the usage data correlated with performance data, allowing an administrator to better determine bandwidth allocation or device assignments to maximize productivity.

NetMotion Wireless Locality dropped connections

Some other Locality charts also improve device troubleshooting or carrier management. For example, the purpose-built Dropped Connections Chart allows administrators to filter by time stamp, device, user and other factors, giving insight into what devices (or carriers) are dropping connections most frequently. That information ties directly into troubleshooting usage problems, as well as trending the viability of a particular location for a mobile device. Administrators may also find the information useful in deciding if one carrier is better than another for a primary location, or whether a particular device/carrier combination is more resilient that another.

NetMotion Wireless Locality device 2

I was very impressed with the ability to drill down into particular data elements. Take, for example, the ability to track a device’s connectivity in motion, which can be accomplished using the Device Map and filtering on a single device through a date range. This showed me the signal strengths offered based upon each cell tower and carrier. Once again, the visual representation offered by the Device Map made it quick and easy to identify problems, highlight concerns and establish a historical view.

Locality makes other useful information readily available too, such as inventory reporting, device configuration reporting, and trending reports that allow administrators to analyze and potentially predict coverage problems or issues.

NetMotion Wireless Locality inventory

All things considered, Locality brings an impressive toolset to the table for enterprises with large, mobile workforces. Service organizations, insurance companies, oil and gas ventures, cable providers, and healthcare come to mind.

Locality excels in its ability to provide the core information needed to troubleshoot mobile workforce concerns and provide data for enterprises to negotiate with carriers on coverage, data plans and even costs. The product's trending capabilities and inventory reporting can be readily translated into productivity gains by ensuring that those workers that need mobile data services are provided with the technology to be most productive.

On the flipside, I found what I thought to be either a missed opportunity or a glaring omission. Even though Locality can gather information from tens of thousands of devices and users across multiple enterprises, the data is kept isolated. While that may prove effective for securing information that should be kept private, that data has value. Perhaps if the data were sanitized and used for trending, NetMotion could provide predictive analytics as well as "what if" scenarios for customers adding new territories for their mobile workforce.

NetMotion Wireless Locality V 2.0 will be available March 31st, 2014. On-site pricing is based upon number of devices, level of support, and other factors, and is best determined by contacting the company directly for a specific use scenario. Locality V2 can be also be deployed via the cloud, where it is available through a subscription-based pricing model and delivers the same capabilities of the on-site version. Pricing starts at $4.50 per month, per license. 

This review has been updated to include additional deployment and pricing information.

Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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