Ruckus Goes High And Low With New Wireless Access Points

Ruckus Wireless Monday confirmed the addition of two new access points, including a high-end AP that marks a new "big iron" in the Ruckus portfolio and is the company's first three-stream AP.

New to Ruckus' portfolio is the ZoneFlex 7982, a dual-band three-stream 802.11n AP leveraging Ruckus' patented adaptive antenna array. Ruckus said the AP can deliver up to 9 dB of signal-to-interference and noise improvement and up to 15 dB of interference mitigation, and that the device is ideal for high-traffic locations such as airports, schools, hotels and stadiums.

The ZoneFlex 7982 can support up to 500 concurrent clients, said David Stiff, Ruckus director of product management, which is necessary for heavily trafficked areas where many users are carrying more than one wireless device.

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"In high-density areas, you have all these devices that, while not always in use, might be connecting to the AP but not doing any traffic," Stiff explained. "Having a high client count prevents passive devices from filling up your connection."

The other new AP is the entry-level compact ZoneFlex 7321, which measures 5 x 5 x 1 inches and can support up to 256 concurrent users. Like all of Ruckus' newer ZoneFlex products, it includes advanced Ruckus technology such as ChannelFly, which automatically "learns" and selects, based on the actual capacity of the channels at the time, the best RF channel for a wireless transmission to offer the highest throughput.

Both new APs are available now, with the ZoneFlex 7982 listed at $1,099 and the ZoneFlex 7321 listed at $349. Each supports 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) and is deployable as a stand-alone wireless router or as part of a centrally managed WLAN system.

Combined with Ruckus' ZoneDirector, both APs also leverage Ruckus applications such as smart-mesh networking, client load-balancing, hot-spot authentication and wireless intrusion prevention.

NEXT: Ruckus Targets 'Persuasive Performance'

Ruckus' Stiff said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is designing products with an eye toward so-called persuasive performance, an emerging benchmark for measuring wireless AP products and their ability to deliver high-speed performance under any conditions. Throughput and coverage are essential to that benchmark, but Ruckus, Stiff said, prides itself on Wi-Fi products that can offer adaptive signal control, capacity-driven channel assignment and capacity optimization among other next-level features.

Several other vendors already offer three-stream APs -- Aruba's AP-135 and Cisco's 3602i are some of the best known -- but Ruckus claims its advantage with the new ZoneFlex is a dual-polarized antenna array for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz transmissions and the use of a later chipset, the Atheros Peacock, vs. a first-generation Atheros Osprey chipset. Three-stream-capable clients, such as Apple's newest MacBook Pro, are starting to hit the market in greater numbers.

Ruckus, which is preparing for a long-awaited IPO and did about $120 million in revenue in 2011, has cultivated a devoted enterprise channel partner base and last year won the SMB Networking Hardware category in CRN's 2011 Annual Report Card. It also has become a dominant force in the expanding market for carrier-grade Wi-Fi, commanding a 27 percent market share in service provider Wi-Fi mesh node shipments, according to the Dell'Oro Group.

Stiff said Ruckus will continue to focus on how to make wireless deployments easy for channel partners and customers. Among other small, but not insignificant tweaks to its APs, Ruckus has started to ship new APs with T-bar mounts and integrated keyholes for placement on different wall jacks.

The ZoneFlex 7982 is now Ruckus' high-end AP, Stiff said. While Ruckus doesn't plan to blitz the market for larger enterprises seeking wireless, Stiff said Ruckus partners continue to bring the company in on deals that reflect a push upmarket.

"Customers that have about 20 to 100 APs are still really our sweet spot, but we have many ways to grow," Stiff said. "Our partners keep taking us into [larger] enterprise deals."