Ruckus Wireless Review

Easy configuration with a good performance and good scalability

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for its performance, compatibility, and capability.

We do a lot of schools, some colleges, large civic centers, large arenas, that kind of stuff. We know how to deploy this so that they get great client connectivity and have easy guest onboarding. We can onboard guests really easily. Each guest that connects has a pre-shared key that they get. They're all unique. We have some great control over guest traffic, and great control over say, corporate traffic. We control how much bandwidth a guest user gets versus a corporate user, and who gets priority on the network.

How has it helped my organization?

When COVID happened, we deployed external access points to the outside of a lot of the buildings that are very weather-resistant, all-metal enclosures, and their 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 it pretty seamless as everything was already set up on their laptops. Most of the schools are what they call the one-to-one initiatives, where every student gets a laptop. They've been able to work through COVID from their cars in parking lots when they need 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 solution has an easy configuration.

The performance is good.

Ruckus is way ahead of the game on a lot of stuff, like Wi-Fi 6. They're already rolling out their 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 2, 802.11ax, which is Wi-Fi 6, the first version. Now, the next version of Wi-Fi 6 is rolling out already.

These guys are an engineering company that has some very awesome patterns on how their radios work and their antennas and antenna patterns, and how their signaling and stuff 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 Mist, for radio client connectivity. 

They compete head-to-head with all the big names.

What needs improvement?

As far as what they can improve, that's a good question, as they're leaders in what they do in my opinion. I don't know what they can do to improve what they're doing currently. 

They're not the most expensive, and they're not the least expensive. They're right there in the middle. Pricing might be a deciding factor for some companies. If they were cheaper, they might land more customers.

They've got a rotation or a life expectancy of about four years for the radio. Not that the radio is going to die. 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.

Many of their wireless products are end of life by year four. That's most of it as technology has changed so much that those old radios can't do stuff that is now available for PCs to connect or phones to connect to, etc. What they do is they force you into upgrading. We've got a couple of cloud controllers. If I've got a cloud controller that is in the same version 5.1, and I want to go to version 5.2, due 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. They make it so 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 end of life when I upgrade the software.

They need to be able to allow us to keep some of the older products on our 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, small businesses that don't want to or don't need to upgrade their controllers. For us to be able to work with their latest access points, we've got to upgrade their controller, but we can't as it's got some older ones on it, and that bites us every year.

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

There's a lot of new features coming out of Wi-Fi 6 that they don't even have the chips in the phones for yet. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for six years or so at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We don't have any issues with it at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is very scalable. I can have up to three controllers, each one housing 10,000 APs. Therefore, I can have a cluster of controllers controlling 30,000 different APs. I don't have anything that big. The closest one is close to 1000, however, still, it's nice to be able to have redundancy. I can build in more redundancy if I need to. 

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 our end-users and the businesses that 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 deal with tech support. I don't call tech support very often. Maybe once a year, if that. They make a good product and have good training. Once you learn it, it's pretty easy to manage. We used to have Cisco's products die on us every one or two years. I don't know the last time I had to turn in an RMA for a Ruckus radio. They have a solid product.

How was the initial setup?

I've been doing it a long time, so for me, the setup is straightforward. If a person is a 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. To do very complex things, that takes somebody who knows what they are doing. I've got a very complex scenario that I need to set up then that's what I get paid for - to help set that stuff up. I will go in and configure things securely for guest access and BYOD devices and corporate laptops with 802.1x. 

You can have a controller version, or it could be a controller-less. I have a standalone AP, I just got one office with one AP, I don't need it to be controlled by anything. I've got one or two SSIDs, and that can still be configured. It's just that you're doing it on the AP or they have what's called Unleashed, which is controller-less. The AP is the controller and that can do up to 50 APs all controlled by one AP. But if that AP was to die, it doesn't matter that configuration is saved on all of them and the next one in line will just take over as the controller AP. There are several different interfaces you may run into to be able to configure the things, however, they're all very similar in how they work and react. The full controller has much more capability than Unleashed, and Unleashed has more capability than the standalone. 

In terms of deployment, we figure for an AP it's about an hour and a half. That's for both configuration and installation. Therefore, if you have 20 APs, it's about 30 hours for 25 APs. That's setting up the controller, virtual or cloud-based, setting up the APs, your SSIDs, passwords, 802.1x, and then physically mounting them.

What was our ROI?

Our clients definitely get a return on investment when they purchase Ruckus.

What other advice do I have?

We are a customer and reseller.

I'm using the latest version of the solution.

Through a controller, we use 802.1x. There are multiple ways to deploy it to customers, including via a cloud controller. We typically do a virtual controller on our client's systems.

I would advise, if a company is new to Ruckus, to work with a partner. It's important to have 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?

You get what you pay for. People will throw in Lynksys and this other home stuff up. I'll say, that's great. If you're a business, it won't cut it. Say you're a coffee shop and I've got 50 customers sitting side. you want all of them to get the same performance all the time. If I've got three people, four people in that coffee shop streaming videos or watching movies or whatever it might be, 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. In head to head competition, Ruckus far outshines them 10 to one. You just can't compete. When they say it's going to do something, it'll do 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.

I'd 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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