Small business equipment vendor Ruckus Wireless has moved into the big league with enterprise-scale WLAN kit, and produced fast power-efficient dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi access points to compete with Cisco.
Wireless network maker Ruckus, till now a small-business supplier, has fired a shot across Cisco’s with a controller that can manage up to 500 wireless access points. The company also – after years of only using the 2.4GHz radio band – announced an access point that delivers fast 802.11n wireless that also use the 5GHz band.
“Our ZoneDirector 3500 controller can handle 500 access points – that’s equivalent to 1000 Cisco APs,” said European technical director Scott Reeves, adding that previous Ruckus controllers could handle 250 access points. Speaking to eWEEK Europe in London, he contrasted other aspects of the system with the market leader.
Ruckus’ equipment uses smart antennas to direct beams to clients, making wireless links faster and more reliable. More-or-less unique in the industry, the concept recently got an endorsement as Cisco’s latest 802.11n access point, the 1140, included beam-forming, but Cisco’s version is inferior, said Reeves.
“Cisco does beam-forming in a way that switches off all the benefits of 802.11n,” Reeves said, explaining that Cisco’s beamforming is performed in software, using the access point’s two omnidirectional antennas, which are spaced for 802.11n “spatial diversity”, not for beamforming.
By contrast, Ruskus has an intelligent array of 19 close-packed antennas, which can position a beam very precisely, said Reeves. The system is also more power-efficient, operating over the IEEE 802.3af power-over-Ethernet standard, with multiple data streams in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHGz wave bands.
This power achievement (which a few other WLAN vendors have equalled, but not with 3×3 MIMO equipment and beamforming) may reduce the energy footprint of a LAN, but is mainly of benefit in making it cheaper and easier to install – standard power-over-Ethernet means the network manager does not have to install extra power cables, or install non-standard power injectors.
Overall, the network provides WLAN coverage for a 5000 employee company for £50 per employee, compared with £160 for Cisco, said Reeves, who also claimed similar benefits over other wireless LAN vendors, Meru, Aruba and Trapeze-Belden.
In Europe, an 802.11n dual-band Ruckus wireless LAN is being installed at the university of Lausanne in Switzerland – it serves 15,000 students, in fifteen buildings, and is replacing a 200 access point network based on Cisco’s first generation 802.11n access point, the 1200.