September 26, 2016

802.11ac and BeamFlex Are a Match Made In Heaven

Richard Watson

 

By: Richard Watson, Product Marketing Manager

 

Which RF technology do you choose?

One of Ruckus’ strong benefits has always been BeamFlex™, our adaptive antenna solution. Instead of a general purpose omnidirectional antenna, Ruckus found that using an intelligent antenna design clients could receive a more reliable signal from the access point AND interference could be mitigated in areas to improve overall performance. Beamflex post

With the advent of 802.11ac, a standardized, chip-level transmit beamforming (TxBF) is supported. A popular misconception, spread by our competitors, is that TxBF accomplishes the same end goals as BeamFlex, rendering BeamFlex useless. They are wrong.

While the chip-level beamforming is beneficial, it does not provide the same benefit set as Ruckus BeamFlex. The 802.11ac standard TxBF is designed to address the issue of strengthening the client SNR through constructive interference. Based on feedback from client devices, TxBF involves minuscule adjustments to the timing (phase) of signals transmitted by the different radio chains of the AP.

However, to provide a maximized customer wireless experience, this is only half the story. With the Ruckus solutions, BeamFlex manipulates the electrical properties of the AP antennas in order to adaptively control the direction in which transmissions are sent from the AP. The software algorithm behind BeamFlex makes its antenna control decisions to optimize throughput on a packet-by-packet basis. Since BeamFlex ensures that signals are transmitted in directions that optimize throughput, it also means that signals are directed away from areas in the network where they would be seen as interference. In other words, BeamFlex delivers the added benefit of interference mitigation. This compounds any benefit you might get from an omnidirectional antenna that is typically used in competitive access points.

The assumption that the standard 802.11ac beamforming support obviates any benefit of BeamFlex is not correct. TxBF maximizes signal-to-noise at the client device by manipulating signal timing, whereas BeamFlex maximizes throughput by manipulating signal direction. These are very different and complimentary technologies.

So, what is the answer as to which technology to choose? Both!

September 23, 2016

Common Criteria: Certified Products Galore!

Abhi

 

By: Abhi Maras, Product Line Manager

 

If you track the WLAN security oriented certifications closely, you may have noticed that Ruckus was recently certified for Common Criteria.  (You can find the certification here.) For those who are not familiar, let me give a quick insight into what it means and why it is important.

What is Common Criteria?

The Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation (abbreviated as Common Criteria or CC) is an international standard for computer security certification.

Through the use of Protection Profiles (PPs) and Security Target (ST), vendors can implement and/or make claims about the security attributes of their products, and testing laboratories can evaluate the products to determine if they actually meet the claims. In other words, Common Criteria provides assurance that the process of specification, implementation and evaluation of a computer security product has been conducted in a rigorous, standard and repeatable manner at a level that is commensurate with the target environment for use.

There are member nations that are classified as Certificate Authorizing Members and Certificate Consuming Members. They have the authority to issue and consume a CC certification, and only consume (not authorize) certification given by any authorizing member, respectively.

At the time of this writing, there were 17 authorizing members and 8 consuming members.

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If the product is certified does it mean it is secure?

Common Criteria certification is primarily specified for IT procurement. Typically, an Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) or type of Protection Profile (PP) is specified. Common Criteria certification cannot guarantee security, but it can ensure that claims about the security attributes of the evaluated product were independently verified. In other words, products evaluated against a Common Criteria standard exhibit a clear chain of evidence that the process of specification, implementation, and evaluation has been conducted in a rigorous and standard manner. In general, getting a product CC certified shows a vendor’s commitment towards getting their product thoroughly examined against the claims they make. So, it’s a good thing!

Wait a minute, isn’t EAL is going to be obsolete?

Well, yes but then again….

In the EAL process, vendors create the ST and evaluate their products against it versus an existing PP that an under-certification product has to evaluate against in the PP world. This is great but the latter also took away the ability for two similar products to differentiate from each other, as this is a must have set of requirements. While PP is new and possibly the future, EAL is still very much alive and still being issued. At the time of starting the CC certification journey back in 2014, for various reasons EAL made more sense to us and some of the product enhancements to comply were applicable to PP as well. PP also has undergone quite a bit of evolutionary change in the past couple of years. You can read all about the evolution here.

While we at Ruckus enjoy working alongside the good folks at CC, I am glad this was completed at the intended stroke of the clock (how many times does that happen in software lifecycle!?) For more details on the certified products and versions please take a look at the Common Criteria website.

September 22, 2016

In WiFi Too, It Pays To Work Hard

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By: Tom Clavel, Enterprise Product Marketing

 

When I was a kid, my parents would tell me “Do your job well, make a difference, and everything else will follow.” Well, that’s exactly what we at Ruckus have been doing: focusing on delivering a superior Wi-Fi experience to customers around the world. And the world is taking notice.

Ruckus, now a business unit within Brocade, was just recognized by industry analyst firm, IHS Markit, as a Leader in its annual “2016 Wireless LAN Infrastructure Vendor Scorecard”. Earlier in January, IDC also named Ruckus as a Leader in its annual “MarketScape: Worldwide Enterprise WLAN 2016-2016 Vendor Assessment”, where we were recognized for our RF innovation and portfolio enhancements. 2016-SC-WL-Graph

The recognition from IHS and IDC is a testimonial to what our customers and partners already know – Ruckus is constantly looking for innovative ways to deliver a simply better wireless solution with flexible offerings and a focus on RF performance. Patented Ruckus technologies such as BeamFlex+ and ChannelFly provide more reliable wireless connectivity and higher device density per access point in the most challenging environments.

This past year, we streamlined our focus to deliver superior RF functionality and added new architecture options such as virtual, controller-less, and even cloud-based management platforms. We’ve expanded our access points with the most advanced 802.11ac Wave 2 offering now indoor and outdoor, from the entry-level to the high-density offering.

Though analyst opinions matter (a lot!), we wouldn’t be anywhere without our customers. Kudos come directly from users worldwide, from many industries. Our customers can now benefit from superior Wi-Fi with any type of deployment and architecture, offering the utmost flexibility and a solid user experience.

All of us at Ruckus are excited to continue this journey and offer a powerful access portfolio and high-performing wireless technology for our customers. We’ve taken some considerable steps in the enterprise WLAN infrastructure market. We are glad IHS and IDC have taken notice. But even more important to us, we are glad our customers are happy too.

September 08, 2016

The Art of Good Beer and Wi-Fi

Wendy

 

By: Wendy Stanton, Marketing Manager

 

Whether you’re browsing Facebook, Instagram or Yelp, it’s pretty easy to find a great brewery online. Grab a group of friends and head down to the local brewery to experience some new tastes. It’s always fun to learn how the beer is made and then order a flight to taste test all the different flavors. And just to be clear— the art of pouring beer is similar to receiving good Wi-Fi.

Let me explain. Pouring a beer is an art and definitely part of the overall tasting experience. You always want to drink a beer out of a clean glass, so there are no residuals from a previous beer. The glass should be held at a 45 degree angle targeting the middle of the slope of the glass. Half way through the pour, bring the glass to a 90-degree angle and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head. Too many people think there should be no foam; however, with no foam the carbonation goes straight to your stomach, causing a stomach ache. When poured correctly, the foam releases the carbonation and you can enjoy your beer pain free.   IMG_2040

Just like pouring beer correctly, deploying the right Wi-Fi also enhances the user experience. There is nothing more aggravating than not being able to connect to Wi-Fi, no matter where you are. Customers like to share their experience via social media and employees often times rely on the Internet to complete their job. Without Wi-Fi coverage they both become upset — what a headache! Some suppliers suggest that you add more access points to get the needed coverage. Not true. That’s like saying pour the beer straight into a glass—without an angle—and just drink the foam. Yuck.

Reliable Wi-Fi is a must when running a business. Retailer, Boulevard Brewery located in Kansas City, Missouri, is one of the largest specialty brewers in the Midwest and hosts 6,000 people a month for corporate events, business meetings, weddings and receptions, along with accommodating tours at the venue. Its legacy network couldn’t handle the amount of mobile devices hitting the network so the search was on for an infrastructure that could provide ease of use, central management, solid coverage and fast Wi-Fi. That’s where Ruckus Wireless comes in.

Ruckus Wireless access points have a patented smart Wi-Fi antenna array technology called BeamFlex that provides extended range and adaptive signal steering. Hence, you get the coverage needed using less APs. Just like beer—perfect foam head providing you just the flavors to enjoy. Managing the AP's are two virtual SmartZone (vSZ) for redundancy. The vSZ platform gives the network the capability to grow and adapt to the changing needs of the business.

So when beer is poured correctly, you’ll avoid getting a stomach ache. And when Wi-Fi is deployed correctly, you’ll escape headaches. They both hurt and make you feel awful but with the right solution, you will have the perfect beer and Wi-Fi.

 

September 01, 2016

Back to 21st Century School: Some Things Never Change

Richard Nedwich

 

By: Richard Nedwich, Global Director of Education 

 

It's that time of year again, back to school season!  As always, summer came and went too fast.  For those who work in a school’s IT department, it's time to see if all those summer technology upgrades, network expansions, fork-lift changes, patches, device provisions, policy updates and application licenses will actually work as intended when students and faculty return.  Whoever said, "Hope is not a strategy," likely never had to manage a school network! 6a00d8341ea9ee53ef01bb09211ba8970d-800wi

If you are in Primary Education, hopefully your district found the money, or used E-Rate funding, to modernize your network over the summer.  Last year, EdWeek surveyed teachers and discovered they graded their schools' 'wireless GPA' with only a 'C' average - not acceptable.

According to the Consortium of School Networks, who surveyed school IT leadership in 2016, their top 3 findings were:

  1. Broadband & network capacity are the top priority for IT Leaders
  2. Privacy and security of student data is an increasing concern for IT Leaders, with 64% saying it is more important than last year.
  3. Digital Learning is a top priority, with nearly 90% of respondents expect their instructional materials to be at least 50% digital within the next three years.

Broadband & network capacity

Was your summer focused on speeds, feeds and connectivity?  If you're one of the lucky ones, maybe your school upgraded your network to 802.11ac Wave 2
for wicked fast download speeds and the capacity to support 1:1 digital learning.  Or maybe this was the year to clean out the switch closet and upgrade from 1Gbps to 40Gbps edge switches; furthermore, was this the year you were 'cloud-curious' and decided to upgrade to high-performing Cloud-managed Wi-Fi.

Privacy and security of student data

Did you focus on securing student data privacy this summer?  Maybe you were one of the districts that finally put a secure BYOD policy in place; or implemented an onboarding or SSO solution to avoid password hassles or inappropriate password sharing?  Perhaps you searched for a way to enable effective content filtering despite Google moving to encrypted search?

Digital Learning

Did you attend ISTE 2016 and check out all the cool new applications and toys on display to enable Digital Learning?  Will this be the year you support Virtual Reality in the classroom, for virtual field trips?  Or buy a 3D printer?  Or deploy 1:1 Chromebooks with GAFE?

Now, in all honesty, my own children attend a well-funded middle school here in California, which deploys Chromebooks and iPads to students (but they cannot take them home).  So back to school included resetting old accounts, creating new accounts, restoring passwords, and making sure our home laptops could access Powerschool, IXL, teacher websites, and make sure our print drivers were up to date.

So, why is it, in this 21st century teaching and learning environment, we parents still spend frantic hours rushing up and down office supply store aisles purchasing backpacks, pencils, pens, college-ruled paper, erasers, highlighters, calculators, rulers and more?  Isn't all the work online?  Aren't our students using Chromebooks, iPads and laptops?  Apparently 'Blended Learning' means, "buy school supplies AND learn new passwords."

Class is in session.

Enter our Back to School Contest September 1-14th- 
Be 1 of 3 lucky winners to win a stuffed Ruckus dog! Tweet us your back to school digital goals with hashtag #BTSGoals and @RuckusWireless 

August 30, 2016

Everybody Wins – Collectively Connected

Richard Watson

 

By: Richard Watson, Product Marketing Manager

 

Remember when you travelled for business and were lucky if you got to stay in a hotel that had good cable, much less, Wi-Fi?  Times have changed, and that’s no exaggeration. In today’s hotels, the Wi-Fi is free and much faster. This is perfect for your laptop, but what about when you have multiple devices—maybe your tablet and smartwatch, but definitely a smartphone? Wi-Fi connectivity is now more than a nice-to-have; it is mandatory. EveryBodyWins

Your requirements as a Wi-Fi user have increased considerably over the past few years. You use it for more than just email or messaging – it is an essential communication tool which places increasingly greater bandwidth demands on a Wi-Fi network. To meet this growing need, hotels initially installed access points (APs) in hallways with assumed penetration into the individual rooms. This was okay for a while, but client density and RF penetration of walls minimized the effectiveness of this approach. Often, hotel IT also had to lay Ethernet cables and power to each room to make these connections work. This was added pressure on their hospitality budgets.

At the worst point, customers were shortchanged on their Wi-Fi access and hotels were burdened with growing costs that were hard to manage. Not only was a network connection being run to each room, but other service terminators were being extended such as IP-TV, VoIP-phones, “smart” refrigerators, and room environment monitors. There was no convergence of services.

What’s needed are Wi-Fi APs with switch capability. These small devices are low profile, converged wired/wireless units that support the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless technology—for 800+ Mbps rates—and multiple Ethernet ports for driving other devices and services in the room through a single network connection. With this set-up, a guest can bring as many Wi-Fi devices as they wish, where the wireless connection is co-located in their room. Additionally, hotel services like phone, printers, air conditioning and service bars can be connected to that single Ethernet backhaul-link.

With this level of technology, everybody wins! The guest gets simple, fast and free accessibility to the Internet, phones, printers and other hotel amenities. A hotel (or dormitory or independent living unit) wins because a single Ethernet connection is required (sans accompanying power). An additional plus is that all the room services typically fall under a single pane-of-glass management service.

Go here for information on Ruckus’ new H510 AP/switch geared to meet these hotel requirements.

August 23, 2016

Can Constraints Drive Innovation?

Oren Binder

 

By: Oren Binder, Director – Service Provider Marketing

 

Demand for mobile connectivity is growing rapidly, and the required wireless spectrum is a finite resource. In 2015, the FCC took a groundbreaking new approach to spectrum allocation, establishing the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) for shared wireless broadband use of the 3550-3700 MHz band (3.5 GHz Band) in the U.S. You can read more about this straight from the FCC here.
 
Innovation band. Historic shift. Paradigm change. These are just a few of the superlatives used to describe the way the FCC chose to address the spectrum constraints with CBRS. Here at Ruckus we tend to agree. The promise of shared spectrum is to deliver the advantages of licensed LTE in performance without the vast associated spectrum costs. OpenG_Blog-01

At Ruckus we were really excited about the potential of this new spectrum allocation model and specifically with CBRS—see our OpenG announcement here. But we know that while the FCC took the first bold step, it will be up to the industry to make the innovation a reality.

And so, we worked with five other wireless technology leaders—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Federated Wireless, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm—and today together launched the official CBRS Alliance.

Our goal, in a nutshell, is to make LTE-based solutions in the CBRS band widely available. In order to achieve this, the Alliance has started the development efforts, is putting together a product certification program, and will soon start running LTE CBRS field trials. In parallel, we plan to expand our strong eco-system with more motivated entities that will continue to work together to achieve the organization’s goals.

To learn more about how the CBRS Alliance is turning constraints into innovation, go to www.cbrsalliance.org.

August 11, 2016

There’s a New Cloud in Town

Wendy

 

By: Wendy Stanton, Marketing Manager

 

Back in the day, we only thought of clouds as  big, white, fluffy objects in the sky that held a large collection of tiny droplets of water or ice crystals. When full, the clouds release those tiny droplets, known as rain. Obviously that kind of cloud still exists but that’s old news. For awhile now, there’s been a new type of Cloud in town, and instead of holding water, it holds data—lots of data!

Chromebooks, iPads, laptops and smart phones are just a few of the devices that teachers, administrators and students are using in the education sector, and they are expecting these smart devices to be continuously connected inside and outside the classroom. To keep students engaged and focused in this digital era, teachers are looking for ways to leverage smart devices in classroom learning. What is the key? A reliable and high performance wireless network. 6a00d8341ea9ee53ef01b7c87fee2c970b-320wi

But schools need more than that. Once they have that high-performance, always on Wi-Fi network—which presumably has access points (APs) sophisticated enough to handle the amount of data connectivity required in a busy educational environment—they need an easy way to manage it. One great way to ensure schools have the Wi-Fi they need with a simple, easy-to-manage interface for their time-strapped IT administrators is cloud-managed Wi-Fi, a.k.a. Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi. Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi is a new WLAN management-as-a-service that enables enterprises with limited IT resources to easily set-up, monitor and manage a high-performance multi-site WLAN of any size, without compromising on Wi-Fi performance.

Schools like the Minooka School District in Minooka, Illinois, are thrilled with its new addition of the Ruckus Cloud, with its easy set up and simple management. No more figuring out which AP isn’t working—the cloud is in control. And when it comes to the students and teachers—the IT staff is no longer dealing with a stack of help tickets—the Cloud and great Wi-Fi work perfectly together. Also enjoying its new Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi is the Belleville School District. With its single interface and mobile app, the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere has made the IT team’s job so much easier.

Everybody’s talking about the new cloud in town—Ruckus Cloud.

60 Day FREE Trial!

 

August 04, 2016

Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi Opens The Door To New Customer Applications

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By: Devang Bhatt, Enterprise Product Marketing

 

It’s been an educational experience being a part of the Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi early access program (EAP). Sixteen customers across 10 states were included in the program, which kicked off six months ago.

After ripping-and-replacing previous non-Ruckus WLAN infrastructure, customers were ecstatic when they discovered blazingly fast Wi-Fi in high-density scenarios and an intuitive management interface. Compared to previous installations, customers found they only needed to deploy approximately half the number of APs. 

Since Cloud Wi-Fi could easily support dozens of active devices and equal level of throughput per user it opened the door for scenarios that just weren’t possible before.

Immersive Learning

One such scenario involved using an augmented reality mobile app (Aurasma) to enable immersive learning experiences at a K-12 school. Over 90 students gathered at the library roaming with their smartphones taking pictures scattered around the building. The app converts static images into augmented reality sessions, which included interactive video streams.

Students were excited about learning and more engaged. And when it was time for a break, they could finally enjoy a smooth Pokémon Go experience!  Cloud_Blog

Accelerated Deployment

One of the biggest challenges associated with deploying large-scale distributed wireless networks is the time-to-deployment. It can take several weeks for physical installation, provisioning and configuration of APs, switches and firewalls. To avoid that challenge, a number of customers took advantage of Cloud Wi-Fi mobile app, which significantly reduced AP install and provisioning time to a matter of days or even hours.  

With its scan-and-deploy functionality, users were able to scan serial numbers of APs to the desired venue in rapid succession prior to physical installation. One customer in particular was able to install 7 APs/hour including physical installation time and cloud onboarding of APs.

Satisfied Guests  

Another successful customer application was at a large car dealership. The dealership noticed that customer satisfaction ratings were dropping significantly, and surveys indicated that the difficulty of signing on to the captive portal and inconsistent Wi-Fi connectivity was the culprit.

After replacing the wireless network with Cloud Wi-Fi APs across 11 dealerships, customers can now quickly sign-on to a captive portal and surf the web from anywhere in the dealership. The dealerships are already seeing improvement in customer satisfaction across locations.

In just a short time, Cloud Wi-Fi has enabled customers to take advantage of new applications and experiences beyond what they thought were possible.  The journey has just begun…stay tuned.

#RuckusCloud

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. Get your 60 day FREE trial here.

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

#BetterTogether