Ruckus Wireless is revamping its wireless network controller portfolio to help enterprises and service providers better deal with the bandwidth and scalability demands resulting from the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and the growth of business-critical mobile applications.
Ruckus for years had multiple product lines aimed at different customer segments, from smaller businesses to enterprises to carriers. Officials on May 19 announced that those various controller product lines were being brought under a single umbrella software platform called SmartZone that gives customers of all sizes the flexibility, high capacity and the ability to scale their networks in response to the pressures being put on their wireless LANs (WLANS).
With the growing adoption of 802.11ac WiFi products and devices like smartphones and tablets being used in business settings, it no longer made sense to offer separate products lines for enterprises and carriers, according to Tom Clavel, senior product marketing manager for Ruckus.
"Now, enterprise customers want carrier-level performance," Clavel told eWEEK. "Businesses now depend on wireless because it's become very critical to the day-to-day operation of the business. … We saw a huge hole that had not been addressed in the enterprise market."
Customers no longer are looking for point products for their wireless networks that require a lot of work if they need to scale or virtualize their infrastructures, he said. What they need is greater flexibility and capacity and the ability to quickly scale their networks as demands change. The ability to easily upgrade the infrastructure to meet new demands was a driving force behind the decision by Ruckus officials to bring together their various products into a single platform, Clavel said.
"SmartZone is a [software] platform," he said. "It offers service-level performance, platform flexibility and [a] 'WiFi-as-you-grow' [model]."
The software platform has a single management pane for everything from single controllers that run on a customer's premises to virtual controllers that run in the cloud. It offers a unified software architecture that spans physical and virtual environments that offer flexibility and scalability, and supports all of Ruckus' ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor wireless access points (APs).
The family of physical and virtual appliance controllers—which can scale from one to 300,000 devices—includes the new SmartZone 100 WLAN controller that can support up to 25,000 clients and manage up to 1,024 ZoneFlex APs with as much as 10G-bps data throughput. The controllers can be used in clusters of up to three units.
Ruckus also offers a virtualized WLAN controller—the virtual SmartZone (vSZ)—for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) as well as larger enterprises and service providers. A cluster of vSZ controllers can support up to 30,000 APS and 300,000 WiFi clients, and is designed to offer high levels of scalability and flexibility in network-functions virtualization (NFV) environments. NFV is designed to enable users to remove networking tasks from physical switches and put them into software that can run on less costly commodity hardware, increasing affordability as well as programmability.
Ruckus' virtual Data Plane (vSZ-D) offers a flexible and affordable technology for data tunneling that leverages NFV architectures, according to Ruckus officials. Meanwhile, Ruckus' SmartCell Gateway 200 is a highly scalable physical WLAN controller that can support up to 10,000 APs and 100,000 clients—with a capacity of up to 20G bps—in a cluster architecture. It also enables service providers and mobile network operators to more easily integrate Ruckus technology into their existing mobile infrastructures.
The SmartZone physical and virtual controllers are available immediately, and the vSZ-D will be available in the third quarter. The SmartZone 100 starts at $4,995 and $100 per user AP, while pricing for the vSZ starts at $995 per instance, plus $100 per AP license.