January 31, 2013, 1:05 PM — The number of Wi-Fi capable devices has increased steeply over the last couple of years, fueled by the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon on one end and the ubiquity of laptops with built-in wireless capabilities on the other. As CIOs and IT managers rush to redesign corporate networks to support the influx of wireless devices that workers are bringing into the office-sometimes even two or three per person-Wi-Fi vendors are enjoying a burgeoning market.
One such vendor, Ruckus Wireless, began operations in 2004. With 60 patents under its belt and more than 80 pending, the publicly listed company has a comprehensive portfolio of products for building wireless networks. For this review, I deployed two top Ruckus access points (APs) to determine if they are suited for deployment for a typical SMB.
The Ruckus Wireless Hardware: Two APs, One Controller
To simulate real-world deployment conditions, I set up a wireless network with two APs.
- The ZoneFlex 7982 is Ruckus' current top-end indoor AP. It offers three-stream performance of 450Mbps per radio for a total throughput of 900Mbps over 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) is $1,099.
- The ZoneFlex 7962, another indoor dual-band AP, offers up to 300Mbps per radio or up to 600Mbps over both bands. MSRP is $999.
In this instance, both APs are centrally managed with a ZoneDirector 1100 controller. This network appliance from Ruckus offers capabilities such as smart wireless meshing and will intelligently load balance wireless clients across multiple Aps, the company says. For larger Wi-Fi deployments, the ZoneDirector can also integrate with an external Authentication, Accounting, Auditing (AAA) server. Alternatively, it's equally at home working off an internal database of user accounts.
The ZoneDirector 1100 has base price of $1,200. This includes the requisite licenses to manage up to six APs. The device will scale up to 50 APs, though in that case additional licenses would be needed.