Ruckus Wireless Says New Cloud Wi-Fi Service Opens Doors For Partners

Ruckus Wireless Tuesday expanded its cloud services portfolio with the launch of a hosted Wi-Fi service it said will lead to new recurring revenue and upsell opportunities for partners.

The new offering, called the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service, lets customers consume Wi-Fi as a subscription-based service, rather than having to build out their own infrastructures on-site. Specifically, Ruckus said it will be hosting local network infrastructures, including WLAN controllers, authentication services and content filtering applications in the cloud.

The new Wi-Fi service represents an opportunity for Ruckus partners to not only grow their managed services arms, but to create a greater stickiness with their end customers, said David Callisch, vice president of corporate marketing at Ruckus.

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"[Partners] don't want to just sell infrastructure to a hotel or a school and just walk away and never see them again," Callisch said. "They want to have more of a relationship and more of an annuity- based business."

Ruckus is selling the service exclusively through the channel, and customers can choose to buy the service in one of two models. The first is the full hosted subscription model, which is priced at $265.50 per access point, per year, in either a one-, three- or five-year contract. The second model, designed for those customers who want to continue using their on-site Ruckus controllers, is $180 per access point, per year.

Callisch declined to give exact partner margins on the sale, but said they are "attractive" in both models.

Gary Berzack, CTO and COO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider specializing in wireless, said cloud-based Wi-Fi services such as the one Ruckus is offering are a solid alternative for customers who don't want to make a major up-front investment in their wireless infrastructures.

"A [smaller] hotel, they probably can't afford all of our services out of the box. But I have a selection of things I can offer them with cloud," Berzack told CRN. "It gives me the ability to say to a client, 'You don't really need my engineer to come on-site at the beginning of your purchase cycle.' What we have is a more rapid deployment capability and a perception from the customer that they are getting an increase in value."

The Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service comes with a Web-based management portal from which customers or partners can remotely monitor and manage all Ruckus access points in their environment. What's more, Ruckus said, the management portal comes with built-in analytics capabilities, allowing users to track customer dwell times, the type of device they carry, and even demographics such as gender and age.

These analytics, which were designed largely for vertical markets such as hospitality and retail, are made possible through the service's wireless authentication page, which prompts guests to access the Wi-Fi network by entering their Facebook or Twitter credentials. The authentication page also could require guests to specify their gender and age before being able to access the network.

Callisch said the authentication pages are completely customizable, meaning a retail store could embed its own logo or, for example, display a current marketing campaign. These customization services, Callisch said, also could represent an upsell opportunity for partners.

"[Customers] could negotiate a price for a partner to come in once a week and refresh their ads and refresh their login page," Callisch said. "It's another upsell opportunity for VARs that didn't previously exist."

The Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service is the second cloud service to launch from Ruckus, which earlier this year introduced its SpoT location-based services. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said both services are considered "the first of a new breed" of Ruckus Smart Wireless Services.

These services will compete against existing cloud-based Wi-Fi offerings, including those from Aruba, Meru and Cisco's Meraki line.

Ruckus' cloud push comes as it sees immense growth in its channel partner base. Callisch said the company has added approximately 700 new partners each quarter for the past 11 quarters, with Ruckus' total partner footprint now at 10,000 solution providers worldwide and 3,500 in North America.