Raising a Ruckus with Wireless
We recently had the opportunity for a little “hands on” with the wireless networking solutions from our friends at Ruckus Wireless.
We are excited about the possibilities that Ruckus ZoneFlex brings to our customers, many of whom are small or medium sized businesses.
Until recently, a company looking to install a wireless network had two possible strategies.
One was install a full enterprise wireless system, using products from companies such as Cisco or Motorola. These networks were expensive to purchase, install and maintain. While they were fine for larger companies with big budgets and plenty of network admins, they made little sense for the smaller organization.
The only other option was to install consumer grade equipment, the kind we would use for our wireless networks at home. While this can get the job done, it is hardly likely to impress, especially when security and performance are always important – regardless of the size of organization.
The strength of the Ruckus system is to provide smaller companies with the opportunity to install robust wireless networks that provide all the features needed, without needing a high level of support.
So when Mike from Ruckus came to show us the system, we were interested to see if everything lived up to our expectations.
Mike brought in a couple of the latest 802.11n access points, along with a WLAN controller.
It is quite possible to use the access points as stand alone units, but Mike suggested that most users will want the higher level of control that is offered by the controller. The ZoneDirector 1000 that we checked out can handle up to 50 access points – plenty for most small or medium companies. If that is not enough, a more power version can control up to 250.
The access points themselves are really interesting. They are certainly not as robust looking as the industrial Cisco and Motorola products, but they are designed to be able to handle the conditions in most warehouses and light industrial environments.
Taking off the cover to look inside, the antenna array is really futuristic looking. Ruckus uses a technology called BeamFlex that actually shapes the radio beams in way to concentrate power in the location of client devices and avoid areas of RF interference. The cool looking antennas are the key to this technology (along with some clever software) that increases performance as well as reduces the total number of access points needed. There is much more information about BeamFlex here.
Quite apart from all the fancy technology, John and I were really interested in the claim that Ruckus networks can be set up without needing huge IT resources.
This does indeed seem to be the case. Mike took us through the system setup using the browser on his laptop. The configuration tools are indeed simple to use (actually reminding me of the setup for my 802.11n network at home) and logically set out.
Don’t think that this simplicity means that there is lack of features. The Ruckus system has everything you would expect in a high end wireless system including Smart Mesh network to reduce the amount of Ethernet cable that needs to be run as well as a comprehensive portfolio of security options.
So we were very impressed with the Ruckus Wireless system and we feel it offers a lot for our customers.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact me at 603-598-1553 x237.
Oh – they have a really cool logo as well!