Ruckus Product Upgrades Target Mobility, Larger Wireless Deployments

It's a move that Ruckus says will take its products into higher-end accounts and also help solution providers tackle an explosion of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices.

The new product is Ruckus' ZoneDirector 5000, a controller-based system that can be deployed either in-line or out of a data path. The 5000 supports up to 20,000 clients, 1,000 access points, 2,048 wireless LANs and 1,000 tunneled connections.

Ruckus' highly regarded ZoneFlex line was initially targeted at SMBs, but in 2009, Ruckus began to expand its focus to midmarket and larger customers as well. On the Ruckus line card, the ZoneDirector 5000 is now Ruckus' high-end product.

David Callisch, Ruckus' vice president of marketing, said the 5000 was needed to address demand from wireless-hungry, mobility-savvy businesses with higher capacity needs.

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"We're going upmarket, but not upmarket in terms of enterprise -- we mean bigger installations," Callisch told CRN. "We're getting pulled into schools and hotels that have at ton of access point needs, so we need a new platform that has the same software base and is still very simple to use, but has much more memory and much more capacity."

The demand, he said, came from the VARs.

"They've gotten their experience with us in [customers requiring] 50 to 60 APs, but now they're seeing 600, 700 and 1,000 APs in a 50-school school district or a major resort," he said. "So scale is becoming a big issue and capacity is becoming a big issue."

Among other updates, Ruckus' ZoneFlex dual-ban 802.11n APs can now support 512 concurrent devices, or 256 clients per radio. Ruckus also updated its ZoneFlex operating system, and version 9.2 offers such capabilities as IPv6 support, remote packet capture, automatic proxy configuration, and configurable timeouts for idle clients as a way of boosting network capacity and providing "grace periods" so users don't have to constantly re-authenticate.

"We haven't abandoned any of the software architecture stuff we're pretty well known for, but we have a new build of the software as density and capacity become a big issue for us," Callisch explained.

ZoneFlex 802.11n APs also now have Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) roaming and L2TP tunneling support.

Ruckus is positioning the ZoneFlex 5000 against big guns in the space like Cisco's 5508 wireless controller line and Aruba's 6000 Mobility Controller. The ZoneFlex 5000 system starts at about $35,000, Callisch said, and the version 9.2 software upgrade is free to existing Ruckus customers. ZoneFlex 5000 will be available in October.

Ruckus has continued to add solution providers and gain channel credibility in the cutthroat wireless LAN space, and now has about 2,500 partners worldwide. It's adding about 200 new partners a month, Callisch said.

Ruckus recently turned heads by winning the overall SMB networking hardware category of Everything Channel's 2011 Annual Report Card -- something Callisch said validates the company's channel approach.

"Our goal is to make the channel feel like they have a stake in our company," Callisch said. "We want to help them and we recognize that and how important [partners] are."