July 26, 2016

Wi-Fi and Cloud: A Pairing Worth the Wait, Like a Great Wine

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By: Dan Rabinobitsj, COO

 

Remember Orson Welles quoting Paul Masson in the famous commercial? “We will sell no wine before it is time.” It is such a great line. If only he hadn’t crashed and burned later! But the notion remains strong. Some good things take a while to make. And that’s true for us at Ruckus.

Today, we announced the general availability of Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi, which pairs our awesome Wi-Fi with the public cloud. Although Ruckus is not first-to-market, we’re confident that we are “best-to-market” for those lean IT organizations small and large that want an affordable, intuitive WLAN and don’t want to sacrifice performance to get it.

Two years ago, Ruckus introduced the Virtual SmartZone (vSZ) to address an important market segment and enable large scale sophisticated WLAN deployments without a physical controller appliance. Today vSZ is deployed by more than a thousand customers that are managing over a quarter of a million APs in aggregate. On the SOHO and SMB end of the scale, Ruckus provides the Xclaim and Unleashed product lines. Pairing_blog_OneAP

Now we’re introducing Cloud Wi-Fi—based on a public cloud architecture—to support organizations of all shapes and sizes, at any scale. It pairs the high performance of Ruckus APs with public cloud for simple set-up and management. As we were planning and designing, we knew the ideal cloud offering from Ruckus would have the following attributes:

  • Scale – we took the same virtualized controller architecture of vSZ and made it the foundation for our public cloud offering.
  • Simplicity – we interviewed dozens of customers and developed a user experience (UX) design so easy to use that an untrained technician can easily set up and manage even a sophisticated WLAN architecture.
  • Open extensibility – In our network functions virtualization (NFV)-inspired architecture, capabilities are added to the cloud platform in the form of virtual network functions (VNFs) that can be built using any software architecture or programming language, as long as they have the requisite APIs. So neither we nor third-party vendors need to start from scratch.

The result of this two-year journey is what we call the Ruckus Cloud. Today, we’ve made available Cloud Wi-Fi, the first service enabled by the Ruckus Cloud. But there is more to come. In the future, we intend to bring Brocade switches, OpenG and Cloudpath into this platform for complete integration.

With that, I’d like to toast a great new pairing – Ruckus high-performance Wi-Fi and the simplicity of cloud.

#BetterTogether

July 20, 2016

K-12 Wi-Fi: One AP Per Classroom, Is It Necessary?

Phal Nanda

 

By: Phal Nanda, Director Product Line Management

 

Is it even recommended? Better Wi-Fi depends on some key elements (1) static factors such as coverage area, materials used for constructions, and planning, (2) known dynamic factors such as typical devices per room (20 to 30 devices), apps used during classroom and online testing, as well as (3) unpredictable dynamic factors such as sticky clients, networking gear failures (a part of the network, APs, switches), recent configuration changes impacting service, etc. Let’s look at each of those parameters more closely and determine the reasoning behind whether or not one AP per classroom has merit.

First of all, let’s look at cost. More APs per classroom means more APs of course, but there is more. More wiring - sometimes wiring cost is as high or more than cost of APs - more PoE switches (to power the APs), and more subscriptions in the cloud or more licenses for your Wi-Fi controller. There is cost everywhere, and these additional costs can add up.

Alternatively, less APs usually require a pre-deployment RF planning (some cost) and smarter Wi-Fi technology that can handle both static and dynamic variability of the environment. BlogCloud_OneAP

K-12 class rooms are small – about 35ftx35ft (or 1,225 sq.ft.). Walls between classrooms can be anything from accordion room dividers to drywall to concrete - though most are wooden structures with studs and drywall separating linearly constructed U.S. elementary and middle school classrooms. Rooms themselves are quite open. RF propagation would have minimal impact in covering upwards of 60-90 feet or more. All of those without even considering the value some Wi-Fi vendors bring with their RF innovations (such as Beamflex, ChannelFly, etc.).

In the classroom, kids are typically given one device each, for mobile learning as well as online testing, and we can expect to have 30 devices active per classroom at any time (not to mention connected devices in a backpack, purse or on a wrist.) The most taxing online traffic would likely be downloading video streaming services (between 2-5Mbps) during e-learning sessions.

With the unpredictable network conditions , such as class time running late and more kids waiting outside who are now connected to the same APs. In addition,  all APs are designed for classrooms; auditoriums and cafeterias require “stadium-like” client density handling.

The overwhelming simplicity of cloud management has provided school’s IT teams with the dilemma: while some controller-based Wi-Fi technologies provide better RF, the simplicity of Cloud is a decent compromise.

What if they had a choice? The best Wi-Fi and cloud management, would result in half the number of APs needed per school district, half the number of cloud subscriptions to buy and renew, half the number of PoE switch ports needed, and half the cost of cabling, half as many devices to fail… you get the idea. All of those, without compromising on cloud simplicity? Would you try it? What would your district do with a ‘Wi-Fi tax refund’ this year?

July 18, 2016

Ms. Lo Goes to Washington

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By: Laurie Falconer, Director of Integrated Communications

 

On Friday, Ruckus Wireless Business Unit CEO Selina Lo was in Washington, D.C. speaking alongside White House administrators and industry leaders at an event marking the launch of the Advanced Wireless Industry Consortium, a $400 million initiative announced by the Obama Administration and led by the National Science Foundation. In addition to Selina, speakers included FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. John P. Holdren, National Science Foundation Assistant Director Dr. Jim Kurose and US Ignite Executive Director William Wallace.

While the event did not require a 24-hour filibuster, Selina spoke about the importance of public/private partnerships to provide city- and community-wide technology to improve citizens’ lives, not to mention business. Selina talked about the smart city installations Ruckus is involved in, including those in San Jose, Paris, Hamburg, Singapore, Ghandinagar (India) and Tshwane (South Africa), and how Wi-Fi is an affordable public wireless technology capable of operating at speeds of up to a gigabit per second. White-House

Highlighting the biggest challenge as dependability (or lack thereof) in radio-frequency challenged environments, which characterize most urban communities, Selina shared the history of Ruckus aggressively going after this problem. Ruckus’ innovation in adaptive antenna technology has allowed the company to deliver optimum coverage and throughput in RF-challenged locations throughout the world. These include smart city deployments which are government funded, but increasingly, bankrolled by public/private partnerships.

Governments may provide right-of-way and power in exchange for giving their citizens and visitors free Wi-Fi access, while private enterprises might supply fiber, hardware, software and services in exchange for marketing promotion, analytics or the opportunity to sell other chargeable services. The ecosystem for the smart city industry is vast, including governments and policy makers, service providers, system integrators, applications developers, street furniture suppliers and owners, advertising companies, analytics companies, so on.

Highlighting that the work the NSF and US Ignite are doing will greatly ease the twists and turns for smart city researchers and entrepreneurs, Selina said, “I have personally benefitted from great research from our universities, access to venture capital, a vast network of people with experience and expertise I can draw on, as well as an ecosystem of companies that I can partner with. Along with federal R&D investment, our government’s innovative spectrum policy to provide more unlicensed spectrum access, and its support of programs such as US Ignite, will further fuel innovation and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs that dare to change our communities, our cities and our world.”

July 15, 2016

Having Trouble Keeping Up with the Pokémon Go Ruckus Without Wi-Fi? We’ve Got You Covered.

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By: Sundar Sankaran, Chief Wireless Architect

 

You might have read about it in the newspaper. You might have heard about it on the radio. You might have watched the pundits exalt about the 25% surge in stock price. You might have event talked about it at the water cooler or come across the charts showing its explosive growth. But ultimately, you need to experience it for yourself to understand what all the hoopla is about. In fact, that chart doesn't even capture it all.  It is just a small fraction of the teenagers I saw earlier this evening near the Mountain View Library and City Hall -- almost every one of them staring intensely at their smartphone with occasional bursts of excitement and joy. They are on a mission to catch them all. On a mission to catch Pokémon. MtView

What attracts these pocket monsters to the Mountain View City Hall of all places, I wondered? And why are so many of the Pokéstops close to or inside these buildings? Is the adjacent park too wide open for them to hide? What is so special about that location? Then it dawned on me. All those monster busters -- Pokémon Goers -- needed Wi-Fi. The newest and fastest Wi-Fi. Now that Mountain View made the smart move to Ruckus, this helps teens catch them all and advance to the next level.

But let’s back up a bit. Looking into it a bit more, we found that Pokémon Go uses a combination of local Wi-Fi and GPS satellites. But because most of the game requires you to step outside, you often step away from a Wi-Fi connection and have to rely on using your cellular data. As a result, you can say goodbye to your data plan faster than you can say ‘Bulbasaur.’

The fact is that Pokémon Go is just the latest in a string of mobile apps to suck your data plan dry. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that consumers were complaining about Snapchat’s heavy data consumption. Fortunately, mobile carriers are starting to recognize the need to keep up with their customers’ insatiable demand for data intensive applications and are adopting Smart Wi-Fi systems that make the process of connecting to Wi-Fi as easy as connecting to a 3G/4G service.

In the same vein, many cities across the U.S. today are implementing free public Wi-Fi networks, similar the one Ruckus deployed in Mountain View, as a way to attract more businesses into the community, increase tourism, enable new public services, and support internal city operations. The good news is that at the same time as cities are trying to benefit local businesses, they are also unintentionally benefitting your growing Pokédex.

Now go out into the world and keep throwing those Poké Balls!

July 13, 2016

The Theory of Wi-Fi Evolution and IEEE 802.11 Selection

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By: Sundar Sankaran, Chief Wireless Architect

 

September 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of IEEE 802.11, commonly referred to as Wi-Fi. Over these 25 years, Wi-Fi has ascended from a technology that enabled computers to wirelessly transfer data at 2 Mbps to winning a spot in Maslow’s pyramid as the most basic human need.

IEEE 802.11 got here, as Lewis Carroll suggested, by running twice as fast. The standard has continuously advanced itself by introducing amendments, such as 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ax. These amendments support higher data rates to meet ever-increasing application demands through the adoption of higher-order modulation schemes such as 64-, 256-, and 1024-QAM, by supporting channel bonding up to 160 MHz and by employing MIMO techniques to transmit multiple streams to single client. In addition to increasing the peak data rate, efforts have been made to improve the spectral efficiency, which characterizes how well the system uses the available spectrum (how many bits of data can be pumped per second in 1 Hz of spectrum). Multi-user techniques such as MU-MIMO and OFDMA have been introduced in 802.11ac and 802.11ax to improve spectral efficiency and network capacity.

The following table summarizes the key ingredients of various IEEE 802.11 amendments ranging from 802.11b to the recently ratified 802.11ac to the upcoming 802.11ax. As evident from this table, peak PHY data rate supported by IEEE 802.11 has gone up by a factor of 5000, and spectral efficiency has improved by a factor of 625. Enhancements like this have enabled Wi-Fi to become one of the basic needs of life on par with water, air and fire.

WiFi Evolution

July 05, 2016

Cities Get Super with Ruckus

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By: Wendy Stanton, Marketing Communications Manager

What happened to the days of pay phone booths where Superman used to change his clothes, manual cash registers with the comforting “brrrring!” and parking lots where employees collected cash instead of automated pay machines? Those days are long gone. Remember watching the cartoon, The Jetsons, and thinking how great it would be to live in that era? Guess what? We’re there! Technology is not just in our homes, but throughout our communities. Smart Cities are popping up all over the globe, which employ new technologies that integrate urban infrastructure with powerful data analytics.

Relying on digital technology, Ruckus Wireless enables cities to become smart to help improve the quality of its citizen’s lives. By deploying broadband wireless connectivity, cities will attract more businesses to the community, increase tourism, enable a host of new public services and support municipal operations. A great example of this is the town of Vail in Colorado. With 20,000 guests a day, accessing information such as maps and local amenities brings peace of mind to their guests.

 

Smart Cities start with a smart plan. Using Ruckus Wi-Fi as an overlay is a great way to get started. It supports the anchor tenants and applications that have immediate impact to the community. It also provides the infrastructure that future applications can build on and links through cellular and fiber connections to the world. Wi-Fi affects the entire community so why not provide the best? Smart City possibilities are virtually endless, and together with Ruckus and Brocade, a complete solution is achieved. Superman may no longer be able to save the day, but Ruckus certainly can!

June 29, 2016

Delivering a Seamless Guest Experience

Diana

 

Author: Diana Shtil, Product Marketing Manager

 

The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) 2016 took place in New Orleans last week, bringing together over 300 companies who all specialize in products, services, and solutions for the hospitality industry. From pay management systems, robots that deliver room service, and even high-resolution televisions, HITEC showcased true innovation that any hotel guest would wish to have. HITEC

So what is all the hype about? Isn’t a robot a little bit over the top? Well, HITEC and the broader hospitality community would argue no, it is just what is needed! Hotels are becoming an extension of the home and when traveling for a day or a month, customers want an unforgettable experience. A clean bed and mint on the pillow are no longer enough. Hoteliers are finding new ways of going above and beyond, whether it is shorter check-in times, additional in-room amenities, or personalized promotions.

Sure, not all hotels can afford to offer an unlimited amount of amenities, so it is key that they provide what all travelers are looking for. And this is food, shelter, electricity, and reliable Wi-Fi. When people are on the go, they carry multiple devices; a phone, tablet, and laptop to name a few. And they expect to connect seamlessly, especially when not at home. Hotels have to provide wireless connectivity that delivers reliable service despite interference from neighboring devices and high-density surges. ACCOR Hotels knew this challenge all to well, and partnered with Ruckus Wireless to deploy reliable connectivity at over 4,000 properties world-wide. It is more than just connecting your guests, but connecting with your guests to provide an unforgettable experience that makes them come back again and again.

June 22, 2016

Insight and Control: Solving the ‘Wi-Fi Everywhere’ Problem

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Since the first networks were invented, and even up until now, systems administrators needed insight to identify when things went wrong and control to make it right. It’s a known fact that the reason a modern racecar can be driven so fast is because of better brakes. In networking, the insight and control provided by a single management console are the brakes that drive high performance.

The proliferation of mobile devices and BYOD requires any enterprise network to have top performing Wi-Fi. But it is a myth that you can use Wi-Fi everywhere, and the fact is that you need a high performing wired/wireless solution.

If you want a high-performance network – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – you cannot achieve it with a single wired or wireless solution. In fact, you cannot achieve it with a single vendor solution. Having a better dashboard is required to keep you on the road.

With the release of Brocade Network Advisor 14.0 (BNA), you have the insight and control needed to manage a top performing wired/wireless network. Within a single-site or multi-site campus, Ruckus Wireless controllers and access points can now be discovered and monitored by BNA 14.0 from Brocade.

BNA provides a single pane of glass for the highest performing networks in the enterprise. Brocade wired and Ruckus wireless solutions are now combined into a tightly integrated end-to-end solution. With this single management console, customers quickly collect metrics and traffic flows to detect issues and expedite trouble-shooting.

For more information visit Brocade’s Community Forums or reach out to your local Brocade or Ruckus account team.  

May 31, 2016

Expanding the Options for Wave 2

Richard Watson By: Richard Watson, Product Marketing Manager

 
802.11ac has promised us a lot: faster data rates, more efficient use of RF spectra and transmission to multiple clients in the same instance. Now, 802.11ac’s full promise has come in the Wave 2 products. But, have we reached nirvana yet? No. To fulfill the “ac” promise, all the right elements need to be in place. CatchTheWave

By now, most Wi-Fi vendors have announced their indoor Wave 2 APs. Ruckus was first to market with the R710, which also incorporated BeamFlex+ and ChannelFly services for an optimized WLAN experience.

But was anything else missing? Yes. A wider selection of Wave 2 APs supporting different deployment environments. Robust Wave 2 APs were needed for not just indoor operation but also for outdoor and special indoor locations such as mid-market opportunities. Today, Ruckus announced the T710 and R510 products to address these segments. With a broad solution portfolio, a Wave 2 experience can be provided in almost any conceived wireless environment. But, is this enough?

Having a broad base of Wave 2 APs to deploy is only half the solution for expanding Wave 2 adoption. The critical element is having access to Wave 2 clients, and the flood of clients has just begun. Without integrating Wave 2 clients into a network, there would be no MU-MIMO benefit. The MU-MIMO benefit not only impacts Wave 2 clients but, because the realized RF efficiency, also benefits the non-Wave 2 devices as well. Today, there are more than 60 commercially available Wave 2 devices with unit sales beginning to skyrocket. Samsung announced its Wave 2 V6 Android early in 2016 and was able to sell more than 10 million units in a single quarter.

The expansion of the Wave 2 market is inevitable. With enterprise-class APs available in multiple deployment options and Wave 2 clients rapidly becoming the majority of sales, it is easy to project the successful expansion of Wave 2-based wireless solutions. Check our Wave 2 summary.

May 10, 2016

Just Like Yoga… WLAN Flexibility is Good

39d8040 By: Richard Watson, Product Marketing Manager 

Would you like to make your network provisioning and management simpler? How do you feel about going against common convention? Like yoga for healthy living, a flexible strategy for the WLAN can be healthy for the enterprise.

When WLANs made the transition from fat access points to a controller-based architecture, there was a lot good to say about them but a fundamental flaw soon surfaced. All the traffic from the APs passed through the controller (“tunneling”). Yes, this provided for the expansion of features and capabilities, but it ensured that there was an unacceptable built-in latency imposed on all applications running on the WLAN.  WLAN-Flexibility

“Tunneling” became a technology tainted by its legacy. But there was a conundrum: for certain applications, aggregating like traffic made sense, but how could one do so without overloading IT and slowing down the network? Standard virtual LAN (VLAN) infrastructures could meet these needs by tagging the client on a single VLAN so that traffic would be routed to a specific processing destination. This approach worked but it was a configuration nightmare, requiring VLAN management whenever devices came and went, or new switches were added. What a headache!

What about implementing a flexible, secure, VLAN-based tunneled architecture that accomplishes the goals of a traditional VLAN approach but is much simpler, more secure and scalable, and minimizes the impact on IT? What if the WLAN itself can provide this? Such a concept complements existing configuration options, but now provides a means to flexibly add a new, in-line “smart” tunneling service. With this approach, SSIDs are selected to act as “aggregation” points to securely tunnel traffic across to the network distribution point.

Perhaps the simplest example of an application that can take advantage of this approach is a generic commercial “hotspot.” Using a secure tunnel for all the traffic from a location can simplify management of the link and minimize the problem of data hacking as it traverses a network. You can have it all – plus secure tunneled traffic with a “set-and-forget” simplicity. If you’re interested in learning more about this flexible approach, check out virtual SmartZone-D (vSZ-D).