Jigsaw: Solving the Puzzle of Enterprise 802.11 Analysis

Yu-Chung Cheng, John Bellardo, Peter Benko, Alex Snoeren, Geoff Voelker and Stefan Savage
February 21, 2006

The combination of unlicensed spectrum, cheap wireless interfaces and the inherent convenience of untethered computing has made 802.11-based networks ubiquitous in the enterprise. Modern universities, corporate campuses and government offices routinely deploy scores of access points to blanket their sites with wireless Internet access. However, while the fine-grained behavior of the 802.11 protocol itself has been well studied, our understanding of how large 802.11 networks behave in their full empirical complexity is surprisingly limited. In this paper, we present a system called Jigsaw that uses multiple monitors to provide a single unified view of all physical, link, network and transport-layer activity on an 802.11 network. To drive this analysis, we have deployed an infrastructure of over 150 radio monitors that simultaneously capture all 802.11b and 802.11g activity in a large university building (1M+ cubic feet). We describe the challenges posed by both the scale and ambiguity inherent in such an architecture, and explain the algorithms and inference techniques we developed to address them. Finally, using a 24-hour distributed trace containing more than 1.5 billion events, we use Jigsaw's global cross-layer viewpoint to isolate performance artifacts, both explicit, such as management inefficiencies, and implicit, such as co-channel interference. We believe this is the first analysis combining this scale and level of detail for a real production network.

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