Ruckus Wireless – Scaling for service provider Wi-Fi

One of the biggest thing that struck me as the overall theme of the Ruckus Wireless presentation at Wireless Field Day 8 was how they have found a niche in the service provider business and were working hard to expand their footprint there. Although I was aware of their presence in this market before, and that they were one of the major Wi-Fi businesses in it, it wasn’t until this week I saw how much focus their business had in this space. To me Ruckus has always been a vision of a very sharp technically focused firm who excelled in antenna technology with their APs. As I do most of my work in the enterprise, I thought their focus was mainly on SMB customers and so I didn’t run into their technology a lot, as much as I admired it. At this Wireless Field Day, Ruckus presented on their new virtual SmartZone products and the presentation showed just how much they were getting ready to be able to managed at huge scale Wi-Fi deployments and especially to make themselves attractive to managed services businesses. As we see the business become about massive deployments of APs, this kind of thinking is needed to make it easier to manage and provide reliability for end users.

MU-MIMO

Ruckus presented on their antenna technology and showed off their new ZoneFlex 710 AP running an MU-MIMO stream between two APs. This is the first time I have seen an actual demonstration of MU-MIMO working and saw that although there wasn’t a huge gain (40%), it was still a significant increase in overall throughput. This is one technology I’ve been particularly skeptical about that it would work in the real world and it was good to see that even in a particularly noisy (they had dozens of SSIDs) environment it was able to work. There was much in depth technical discussion (you really should watch the video below) about how different factors will affect MU-MIMO deployments and it seems to be particularly important that the algorithm used to group the APs for a MU-MIMO transmission be able to correctly find clients able to receive the transmission. The antenna technology that Ruckus has, beamflex, is crucial to them being able to properly aim the antennas so that they isolate the clients to form the grouping.

###Ruckus presents on MU-MIMO using ZoneFlex 710

###Notes;

  • MU-MIMO – ZoneFlex 710
  • Allows use of spectrum to transmit to multiple clients
  • Demo of MU-MIMO running compared to client with 4 antennas
  • Differentiation and grouping algorithms will be biggest factor in implementations

Smartzone Virtual Solutions

As more and more businesses move to using the cloud we have seen an upswing in cloud based management of wireless deployments and APs. Having a ‘cloud’ version of your management platform (be it controller based or independent AP based) meets many business requirements and can bring many advantages for certain customer segments. Part of the challenge of this is being able to scale the platform and make it usable in situations where there are thousands of APs. Ruckus presented their Smartzone offerings to Wireless Field Day with it’s take on these platforms and where it saw the pain points as being for companies utilizing Ruckus for their businesses. It was great to hear some of the technical details such as how they had different appliances for managing the control plane and data planes and how they were thinking about the networking integration and how outages would affect customers.

###Ruckus presents on SmartZone and their virtual solutions

###Notes;

  • Virtual Solution Offerings;
    • Virtual Smartzone
    • Virtual Smartzone Data
    • Virtual Networking Integration
  • Smartzone is carrier class platform/appliance
  • Can scale up to 30K APs, redundancy and manageability (RESTful APIs)
  • Distributed deployments, AP survivability
  • Enterprise or Managed services
  • Uses virtual data plane as separate from controller.
  • Can be moved between different environments.
  • Allows for different deployment options

SPoT real time locationing solution

Recently using different methods of finding where people are in a wireless environment has found favor again by various wireless manufacturers and Ruckus presented their particular take on the new developments in this technology. The new developments in this part of the wireless landscape has been to bring more analysis into more traditional location methods and to try to narrow down the range that a particular system could be off on a particular users location but using more advanced wireless methods (either with bluetooth, or some of the later 802.11 standards that gets information directly from clients). The main difference that Ruckus seems to be doing here is to use a cloud based platform to enable their service to be dynamically scalable. Once again this emphasizes to me of the focus Ruckus has in the service provider space, as they would likely be prime customers for this kind of service. This ties in neatly to the SmartZone solutions described previously.

###Ruckus presents on SPoT

###Notes

  • Dynamically scalable platform to go from small to large deployments
  • No active engagement with clients, just uses whatever data the client is sending
  • You have to do calibration to improve accuracy.

LTE in Unlicensed 5GHz

The last presentation from Ruckus was on recent developments in using LTE in the unlicensed 5GHz band. Ruckus has been doing the industry a service by keeping a close watch on the developments in the 3GPP and have taken the approach that it will happen if we like it or not and we therefore should be involved in shaping what it looks like. This presentation clearly pointed out what the major ‘flavors’ of LTE were that could affect Wi-Fi and what the likelihood for disruption is from them. It’s significant here that the one being talked about most in the press, LTE-U, is also the most likely to cause W-Fi disruption. I would encourage Wi-Fi professionals to become aware of what this could look like in their environments, however I also believe that commercially these types of deployments will be a hard sell in enterprises, especially if they have existing WLANs. It remains to be seen which of these technologies will take hold and become a common feature that needs to be dealt with in wireless deployments. My take on this right now is watch, wait and see.

###Ruckus presents on LTE in unlicensed 5GHz bands

###Notes;

  • LTE-U, LAA, LWA are main programs
  • LTE-U – Significant risk of WiFi disruption, duty cycle approach
  • LAA – More promising for WiFi co-existance, Listen before talk (needs more work to prove)
  • LWA – Most promising WiFi co-existance. Tunnels LTE data within 802.11 frames
  • Linked to indoor small cell deployments of LTE

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