Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Can Ruckus Redefine How Enterprise WLANs are Deployed?

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Ruckus Wireless has released its new Smart Wi-Fi meshing plug-n-play technology, SmartMesh, which enables simple, cost-effective deployments of high-performance enterprise-grade wireless LANs.

“SmartMesh redefines how wireless LANs are deployed in the enterprise,” says David Callisch, vice president of Marketing for Ruckus. “The message here is that we can now help enterprises deploy a robust, high-performance wireless LAN in half the time, at half the cost, and with three times the performance of typical wireless LANs.”

The Smart Wi-Fi technology makes it unnecessary to run cable to every AP, which significantly reduces costs and virtually eliminates the need for complex, labor-intensive RF planning.

“SmartMesh is an extension of our patented technology that allows us to adapt to changes in a Wi-Fi environment. It sits on top of a chipset and has a smart antenna system, which focuses RF energy toward a client and it steers it in real-time if it experiences interference. You don’t have to do anything other than plug it in. You get a longer range signal, in some cases two to four times the distance; you get a more consistent performance, and less interference,” says Callisch.

The almighty dollar

Ruckus estimates that the cost of a typical 500-user WLAN using the industry’s most popular enterprise 802.11g WLAN system (a Cisco 4402 controller, plus 25 Cisco 1131 802.11g APs, plus 150 Ethernet drops) is approximately $35,000. 

In contrast, the Ruckus SmartMesh solution (15 APs, five Ethernet drops, and a Smart WLAN controller) comes in under $15,000, offers faster 802.11n, and can be installed in roughly half the time, since extensive wiring and site planning are not needed.

“We are giving them the ability to deploy robust wireless LANs at a very low cost point and very quickly,” says Callisch. “And we’ve got some proof points, in terms of the customers who have done that, that can prove it. We think it will fundamentally change the economics of wireless LAN deployments by giving the enterprise managers a much easier and quicker way to build hi-performance wireless LANs without the high cost associated with wired wireless LANS. There’s a lot of hospitals and hotels and schools where there’s not a lot of IT guys and money is an issue, but they still have students and guests with Wi-Fi devices and they need a robust wireless LAN that provides coverage. If there’s power, we can work. Adding wireless capacity is as easy as plugging in a light bulb.”

Other offerings

In addition to SmartMesh, Ruckus Wireless also announced, the ZoneDirector 3000, a new line of scalable enterprise-class Smart WLAN controllers. With support for up to 250 ZoneFlex APs, the ZoneDirector 3000 provides a Smart WLAN controller option for large enterprise environments.

All ZoneDirectors and/or ZoneFlex APs are also now manageable through the Ruckus FlexMaster Wi-Fi management system. Using FlexMaster, enterprises can securely manage remote smart WLANs and APs in regional or branch offices from a single point over the Internet or private IP networks.

“If you had 50 hotels, and each has a WLAN, but not an IT staff, you can troubleshoot from a distance. You can see how many users, reboot, reconfigure, change access IDs–it’s super granular control,” says Callisch.

Ruckus in the middle

“We sell primarily to the middle market, the big chasm of the market not served by Cisco, Aruba, and Trapeze or the low-end served by consumer products like Netgear and D-Link. We target the middle: schools, hotels, hospitals. They require an affordable solution that’s easy to use,” says Callisch.

The first Ruckus customer to deploy the SmartMesh 802.11n system is Lodgian, Inc., one of the largest independent owners and operators of full-service hotels in the United States, which deployed the new Smart Wi-Fi Ruckus solution at its Crowne Plaza Beach Oceanfront Resort Hotel in Melbourne, Florida two months ago.

Prior to the deployment, the hotel received roughly four customer complaints per day about the quality if Lodgian’s legacy Wi-Fi network. Callisch says that number has been reduced to four every two weeks.

“Our access points reach really, really far,” says Callisch. “Hops are bad in mesh, and we can eliminate the needless hops that you would normally get with a meshing system. That gives the client better coverage and performance. It’s an easy-to-use, scaleable system. We have taken the best concepts from enterprise-grade and stripped out all of the complexity and made it simple to use at the middle end of the market.”

Availability and pricing

SmartMesh is currently available as a free software upgrade (ZoneDirector 6.0 software) to premium support customers with Ruckus ZoneDirector Smart WLAN controllers. It can be used with the entire family of Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11g/n Smart Wi-Fi access points. ZoneDirector 3000 ($6,000 for 25 APs), will be available in July. The FlexMaster management system is available now for ZoneFlex APs ($5,000 for 100 APs). FlexMaster managing ZoneDirectors will be available in July.

This article was first published on

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