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Ruckus SmartZone wireless access points: Product overview

Ruckus SmartZone wireless access points and controllers are designed for a wide range of environments, including indoor and outdoor AP deployments.

Editor's note: This Ruckus SmartZone wireless access point product overview is part of a series on buying wireless LAN technologies for the enterprise that compares cloud-controlled WLAN versus locally managed WLAN. We look at the buying criteria for cloud-managed WLAN products and the criteria for buying locally managed WLAN solutions. We also compare the top cloud-controlled wireless LAN vendors in the market and the leading vendors in the locally managed WLAN market.

The Ruckus wireless access point (AP) product line, called Ruckus SmartZone, focuses on locally controlled wireless options. Ruckus has two primary on-premises controllers and several access point products, depending on the needs of your environment and users.

On-premises controller options

The ZoneDirector series of on-premises controllers is designed for small to medium-sized, single-site enterprise deployments. The controllers are available in three sizes. The 1200 series is for deployments of up to 75 Ruckus APs. The next largest ZoneDirector is the 3000 Series, which scales from 25 to 500 managed APs. Finally, the 5000 series can manage up to 1,000 APs.

The Ruckus SmartZone series caters to large-scale single or multisite enterprise and carrier deployments. Ruckus offers both appliance and virtual machine installation options for greater flexibility. The SmartZone 100 series appliance scales up to 1,024 managed APs, while the much larger SmartCell 200 series scales up to 10,000 managed APs. The two virtualized options -- the E series and the H series -- mimic the capabilities of the 100 and 200 series appliances. The beauty of the SmartZone platform is its ability to cluster with other SmartZone systems, creating a uniform and highly scalable controller that can handle up to 30,000 APs by clustering up to three of the 200 series appliances or H series virtual machines.

Cloud-controlled WLAN

This series focuses on "cloud-controlled" wireless LANs, which are configured and managed entirely from the cloud, and only the access points remain on location. By contrast, "cloud-managed" WLANs are managed partly from the cloud and partly through on-site equipment.

Ruckus SmartZone AP options

Ruckus has a large AP product line -- mostly due to the fact that it continues to offer older AP hardware to large enterprise or service provider/carrier customers that require it for compatibility reasons. In this article, we'll focus on the ZoneFlex R series for indoor use and the ZoneFlex T series for outdoor use. All indoor models utilize internal antenna arrays and cannot use external antennas. Outdoor models can be ordered with internal antennas or with external 5 GHz antenna connectors.

Indoor APs

The ZoneFlex R300 series is a two-stream 802.11n AP that delivers up to 300 Mbps throughput. This is Ruckus's entry-level AP that is most commonly used in areas where users require only basic wireless access. The beamforming antenna can support up to 250 simultaneously connected client devices.

The ZoneFlex R500 series is a mid-range Ruckus Zone 802.11ac Wave 1 AP. It utilizes a three-stream, 802.11ac radio that delivers up to 1.3 Gbps throughput. The beamforming antenna can support up to 500 simultaneously connected client devices.

The ZoneFlex R600 series is a two-stream 802.11n AP that delivers up to 300 Mbps throughput. This is Ruckus's entry-level AP that is most commonly used in areas where users only require basic wireless access. The beamforming antenna can support over 500 simultaneously connected client devices before performance begins to degrade.

The ZoneFlex R700 series offers the same 802.11ac Wave 1 performance as the R600 series, but with a more advanced antenna system that provides ultra-high performance in areas that either have many physical obstructions or a great deal of wireless interference.

The ZoneFlex R710 series is Ruckus's 802.11ac Wave 2 AP that boasts four streams and throughput up to 1.7 Gbps at 5 GHz. The R710 also includes Bluetooth low energy support to connect Bluetooth devices for various tracking and monetization services.

The R300 series has one 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port. All other models have two ports.

Outdoor APs

The ZoneFlex T300 series is a weatherproof 802.11ac AP that offers two spatial streams that delivers up to 867 Mbps of throughput in harsh environments. The units are offered with either internal onmidirectional antennas, directed internal antennas, or two type-N connectors to install an external 5 GHz antenna.

Licensing/support options

Ruckus Wireless uses standard support contracts for their controllers and APs. Support includes phone/email support, remote troubleshooting, firmware upgrades and defective hardware replacement.

Purchasing and demo gear

Pricing for Ruckus SmartZone products is confidential, but Ruckus hardware and support is purchased through Ruckus Wireless partners. Customers can also fill out this form to request a demonstration from a local Ruckus partner.

Next Steps

Learn how to defend your wireless APs.

Learn more about moving between APs.

Know what to look for when buying an AP.

Prepare your network for the 802.11ac standard.

This was last published in September 2015

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What advantages do you think the SmartZone AP family brings to the table over other competitors for enterprise wireless business?
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This looks like a good solution; we need more access points for many local businesses and even open spaces. Kudos for that - we have to start treating Wi-Fi as we would any other commodity (like water or electricity or even air conditioning). But I'm stopped by one statement: "Pricing for Ruckus Zone products is confidential." Now how is that going to drive business? Other than far away...?
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