Ruckus Wireless Review

Great performance, easy to set up and simple to configure


What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for its performance, compatibility, and general capabilities. We do a lot of schools, colleges, large civic centers, large arenas, etc. That kind of stuff. We know how to deploy this so that the clients get great client connectivity.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of COVID, we've deployed external access points to the outside of a lot of the buildings. These are very weather-resistant, all-metal enclosures. The students have been able to do assignments and schoolwork and that kind of stuff from the parking lots of the schools. They can drive up in their car, get their assignments, or do work that they need to while they're connected to the school. It made social distancing in this way pretty seamless as everything was already set up on their laptops. Most of the schools are what they call the one-to-one initiative, where every student gets a laptop and they've been able to work through COVID from their cars in parking lots when they needed to be at the school for something. It's really benefited a lot of the schools to be able to do that.

What is most valuable?

The performance of the product is amazing.

The ease of configuration that's on offer is very good.

The product is very compatible with other solutions.

The guest onboarding is so simple. We can onboard guests really easily. Each guest that connects has a pre-shared key that they get which are all unique. We have some great control over the guest and corporate traffic. We can control how much bandwidth a guest user gets versus a corporate user, and who gets priority on there. 

Ruckus is way ahead of the game on a lot of stuff like Wi-Fi 6. They're already rolling out the second version of Wi-Fi 6, which is a huge improvement over even Wi-Fi 5. The way wireless started is you had 802.11b, 802.11a, then 802.11g and 802.11n, then 802.11ac, then AC wave to 802.11ax which is the first version of Wi-Fi 6. The next version of Wi-Fi 6 is rolling out already.

The product has some very awesome patents on their radios and their antennas and antenna patterns and how their signaling works. That's why nobody can touch them. If they go head to head with anybody. They blow Cisco and Aruba out of the water and even Mist for radio plant connectivity. On top of that, they have very good engineering. If I ever need help with engineering stuff, I can call on them. The company does a really good job, which is why we've stayed with them.

What needs improvement?

They're leaders in what they're doing. I don't know what they can do to improve what they're doing currently. 

The cost could be slightly improved. It's not on the low end, and it's not in the high end. It's in that middle area, which can be a deciding factor between someone going with this solution versus another one.

They've got a rotation or a life expectancy of about four years for the radio. Not that radio is going to die right hten. I've got some that are way older than that, that the customers are still using. However, they take them and they end the life of them at four years. Any of their wireless products are end of life by year four. Most of it's because technology has changed so much that those old videos can't do stuff that is now available for PCs to connect or phones to connect to that kind of stuff. 

What they do is they force you into a Cloud controller. We've got a couple of them. If I've got a Cloud controller there and it's on version 5.1, and I want to go to version 5.2, bdue to the fact that I need to support the new radios coming out, I can't if I have some older radios on that controller. I can't upgrade that controller to the latest software to support the new radios as I've got some end of life radios on there that go into life when I upgrade the software. They need to be able to allow us to keep some of the older products on the Cloud controllers or any of their controllers longer, and just start supporting the new controllers. They force you into an upgrade unnecessarily.

We have some customers that have just a few APs. There are some small businesses that don't want to, or don't need to upgrade their controllers and they're crushing their access points. For us to be able to work with the latest access points, we've got to upgrade our controller, however, we can't. That bites us every year. We'll have customers that have APs that are going end of life that still work fine, but we can't manage them anymore.

I know the reasoning behind it is it could be security features or it's something that the access points don't support that newer devices do. They'll support this new Wi-Fi 6 coming out, however, I can't run the same types of radios on this particular controller software anymore. That kind of puts me off a little bit, however, that's the only thing that the company has done that's made me mad.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for the past six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the product is rock solid. We haven't had any issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is extremely scalable. I can have up to three controllers with each one housing 10,000 APS. I can have a cluster of controllers controlling 30,000 different APS. I don't have anything that big. One is close to a thousand and that's the biggest I have. Still, it's nice to be able to build in more redundancy. 

How are customer service and technical support?

As a Ruckus partner, I've got access to Ruckus. I've got access to tech support, and it makes things a lot easier for the end-users and businesses I work with. If they have an issue, they can come directly to me or they can go directly to Ruckus, it doesn't matter. I'll be happy to help them. If I can't answer the question or get them fixed, then we'll get with tech support. I don't call tech support very often. Maybe once a year, if that. They make a good product and offer good training. Once you learn it, it's pretty easy to manage. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to have Cisco's products for one or two years. I don't know the last time I had to turn in an RMA for a Ruckus radio. They're a solid product.

How was the initial setup?

I've been doing implementations for a long time. If it's brand new to the system, like any system, it can be fairly complex. However, they have great documentation on their website on how to set it up. If a client needs complexity, however, they need help. That's where I come in.

I can go in and configure things securely for guest access and BYOB devices and corporate laptops with 802.1X. I have a stand-alone AP, I just got one office with one AP. I don't need it to be controlled by anything. If I've got one or two SSID, it can still be configured. It's just that you're doing it on the AP or, alternatively, they have what's called Unleashed, which is controller-less. The AP is the controller that can do up to 50 APs all controlled by one AP. If that AP was to die, it doesn't matter, that configuration is saved on all of them. 

There are several different interfaces you may run into, to be able to configure everything. However, they're all very similar in how they work and react. The full controller has much more capability than Unleashed and at least has more capability on the stand-alone. In any case, it's all well documented, and all straightforward.

In terms of deployment times, we figure for AP it's an hour and a half, so you can just figure in that as the base amount of time you need for each AP and that includes configuration and installation. Therefore, if you have 20 APs, it's about 30 hours for 25 APs and that's setting up the controller virtual, or Cloud-based, setting up the AP, the SSIDs, passwords, 802.1X., and then physically mounting them.

What was our ROI?

The solution definitely offers my clients a good ROI after they implement it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They don't really need to be cheaper. They're not the most expensive, and they're not the least expensive. They're right there in the middle.

What other advice do I have?

We're a reseller as well as a customer.

We're running the latest software. We deploy through a controller and we use 802.1X. There're multiple ways to deploy to customers. There's a cloud controller, for example. We typically do a virtual controller on their systems.

If a company is new to Ruckus, it's best to work with a partner. You need somebody that knows what they're doing, and knows what questions to ask so that you're getting the right information. When I go to do an implementation, I've got a list of 50 different questions. I'll ask somebody, what about this? What about this? What about this? It will help with the implementation process if someone has a complete view of what to ask for and what to do.

You get what you pay for. People will throw in Linksys, and this other stuff. If you're a business, say you're a coffee shop and you have 50 customers sitting there. You want all of them to get the same performance all the time. I want to make sure everybody gets an equal amount of time without anybody getting any interruptions.

With Linksys and Ubiquiti and all these other brands, you don't get that. When it comes to the head-to-head competition, the Ruckus far out-shines them. Ten to one, you just can't compete. When they say it's going to do something, it does it. They don't put documentation out that is misleading. If it says it'll do 1,024 clients it'll do 1,024 clients. If it says it'll do 4.3 gigabytes, it'll do 4.3 gigabytes. It's great.

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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