Page 1 of 2
It doesn't have the name recognition of its biggest competitors, nor the breadth of channel partners and resources. It's in one of the most competitive markets within the broader networking segment -- wireless LAN -- that's getting more crowded all the time. And there are plenty of observers who are encouraged by its IPO aspirations but still believe the company's going to be acquired before that day comes.
But darn if it isn't a great time to be a Ruckus Wireless solution provider. Products, margins, quirks and all -- the company has become one of the WLAN channel's hottest plays in the past two years, and it's getting stronger still.
"We sell two or three different wireless technologies, and the way we've been handled by Ruckus is superior to how we've been handled in the past," said Dave Casey, principal at Westron, Carrollton, Texas. "They help us drive business, define business and get creative about the ways to differentiate the product. It's been a good thing for us: They're a combination of the technical and the personal."
"What gets me here is the passion," said Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Atrion Communications Resources, Branchburg, N.J. "It took them a year-plus of meeting with me and getting me to move away from my previous wireless vendor, but what made it easy was meeting Selina [Lo, Ruckus' president and CEO] and the team and the excitement they bring. Then when their technical people came in to meet with our technical people, my people told me that this was so much better than what we were working with."
Tim Hebert, president and CEO of Atrion Networking, Warwick, R.I., added Ruckus earlier this year. Though primarily a Cisco shop, the value Ruckus products could present to certain customers proved too compelling to ignore, he said.
"This is a very crowded space, and everyone says a lot of the same things, and what excited me about Ruckus was the passion and energy they brought," said Hebert. "We deal prominently with Cisco, and Cisco is big and wireless is a priority for them but a small market overall, so it doesn't get the same attention and energy you get from someone like Ruckus, where it’s a primary business."
Ruckus' major WLAN competitors, which include market leader Cisco, Aruba Networks, Meru Networks and a slew of others, have taken notice, not least for the fact that both IDC and Gartner have at various points in the past year named it the fastest-growing company in the space. According to Gartner, which in March 2010 ranked Ruckus No. 8 in the space, it was the largest gainer of share since 2009, with 105.8 percent gain year-over-year. In CRN's Annual Report Card (ARC), Ruckus' impressive showing in the SMB Networking Hardware category put it within spitting distance of category toppers Cisco and Adtran in nearly every criterion, and ahead of longer-established players like D-Link, Hewlett-Packard and Netgear.
Revenue gains also tell the story. Ruckus in 2009 grew to $56 million in product shipments, a 100 percent gain from 2008 -- and had hit that mark and passed it by the third quarter of 2010, expecting to post another year of volcanic growth.
So how did it get there? And why has Ruckus struck such a channel chord?