Ruckus Upgrades Wireless LAN Wares

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Ruckus, which makes WLAN switches for small-to-medium businesses, has delivered a larger switch and upgraded its management software, to handle large sites with multiple buildings, entering the territory delivered of rivals such as Cisco and Aruba.

"We've had a number of customers needing wireless LAN coverage in lots of buildings, and we've had to sell them smaller controllers," said Scott Reeves, technical director EMEA for Ruckus. The company is now shipping the Zone Director 3000 switch, promised in April, and has extended its FlexMaster management software to handle multiple buildings and larger numbers of access points.

Improvements in FlexMaster version 7.0 include Layer 3 roaming, which allows client devices such as VoIP phones to move from building to building, changing their IP address on the way, without losing a call, said Reeves. The 3000 switch can handle up to 250 access points and 5,000 users.

FlexMaster can now manage multiple Zone Director switches, too, so customers who have multiple switches can manage all their access points from a separate workstation: "That lets users scale up to thousands of devices," said Reeves.

Ruckus includes secure fast roaming, giving Windows Mobile devices a dynamic pre-shared key, so each terminal has its own secure key, and pre-shared keys will not become known. "Voice security is paramount," said Reeves. The system can also cache keys to make 802.1x roaming faster.

Although features like this are long-established in products from rivals including Cisco Aruba and Meru, the Ruckus product is cheaper, because it does not include extraneous features which are demanded by very large companies, but can be provided elsewhere on the network by smaller ones, he explained. "Cisco and Aruba have focussed on the top of market, adding features like anti-virus and centralizing everything into the core, to sell to Fortune 500 companies."

The company also added a performance monitoring utility called SpeedFlex. All the new software features are available as an upgrade to existing Ruckus users, including those with the low-end box.

Ruckus continues to offer lower-cost 802.11n Wi-Fi by keeping to a single channel, 2.4GHz. The company says its beam-forming technology gets better performance out of this potentially crowded band than the competitors, so it can beat their dual-band equipment without having to use two radio frequencies. "We're half the price of competitive vendors, with twice the coverage," said Reeves.

Ruckus is doing well in the hospitality and educational markets, said Reeves. "Hotels don't require a complex network, just very good Wi-Fi, and colleges generally have a tight budget."

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