Archive for the ‘Ruckus Wireless’ Category

Multiple Paths to Multigigabit Connectivity

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

We recently announced the expansion of our multigigabit portfolio with the addition of the new R750 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access point (AP) and ICX 7150-C10ZP multigigabit switch. More specifically, the R750 is a dual-band, 4×4:4 (5GHz) + 4×4:4 (2.4GHz) AP with embedded IoT radios (BLE, Zigbee) and 2.5GbE support. In addition, the R750 is optimized for high client-density environments and supports the latest WPA3 Wi-Fi security standard.

As we’ve previously discussed on The Ruckus Room, the migration to Wi-Fi 6 is driving companies to upgrade their network infrastructure to support multigigabit infrastructure. As with all new technology, the initial multigigabit switches to hit the market were high-priced entries targeting early adopters. The technology has matured and sales shipments of Wi-Fi 6 APs have begun to ramp, though multigigabit switch options have been slower to expand.

Ruckus Networks (now part of CommScope) is pleased to be leading the charge by offering a range of multigigabit switch options that offer customers a choice of how they want to “dip their toes” into multigigabit and choose their level of investment. With our most recent announcement, Ruckus now offers:

High-performance Multigigabit
The ICX 7650-48ZP features 2.5/5/10 GbE access ports paired with 100 GbE uplinks to deliver top-of-line performance for high-density Wi-Fi 6 deployments where performance is essential. The switch provides customers the performance and capacity that they’ll need for the next 7-10 years.

Affordable Multigigabit
The ICX 7150-48ZP offers 1/2.5 GbE access ports for most Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 deployments. Based on our entry-level switch series, it delivers more than double the performance of gigabit switches at a surprisingly affordable price.

Mini-Multigigabit
The ICX 7150-C10ZP features multigigabit access ports (both 2.5/5/10 GbE and 1/2.5 GbE) in a small form factor that’s fanless for silent operation. Four ports are PoE-enabled with up to an industry-best 90W. Like all Ruckus ICX switches, the ICX 7150-C10ZP can be stacked with other ICX 7150-family switches within a single wiring closet or across closets or classrooms. This switch is ideal for deployments where only a few multigigabit ports are needed. See my companion blog about uses for this compact multigigabit switch.

What’s the right switch for you? Contact Net-Ctrl on 01473 281 211, or email sales@net-ctrl.com.

Is there such a thing as too much Wi-Fi?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Ever gone into a store and looked up? You’d be surprised what you can find hanging off the ceilings.

Like where I’m hanging out now—one of those tiny mobile phone stores. It’s not a large space but there are three Wi-Fi APs hanging off the ceiling in a retail space of about 400 sq. ft. (37 m2). That’s roughly equal to one AP for every 133 sq. ft. (12 m2).  Does such a small place really need three APs?

Is Three a Crowd?

People who study crowd density have rules of thumb to estimate the number of people that can occupy a given space. A loose crowd, where everyone is about an arm’s length from their neighbor, requires roughly 10 square feet (1 square meter) per person.

At that density, you could pack forty people in this store. It would be uncomfortable and leave no room for shelves, tables, or check-out counters. Anyone who has shopped around a major holiday knows what it’s like to look inside a jam-packed retail store and say “Hard pass”.

Back to those APs blinking above me. Let’s assume everyone here has a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone. At our maximum crowd capacity, that’s 40 devices, plus a few more if the store uses Wi-Fi for point-of-sale (POS) devices. Let’s round up to 60.

You might think to yourself, “60 devices divided by three APs is only 20 devices per AP. That’s great!” Except most APs have dual radios. The actual number will be 10 devices per radio.

I can hear you now. You’re probably the person behind me in the check-out line wondering why this woman is muttering to herself about APs. “Isn’t fewer devices per radio better?” you’d say.

Maaaybe.

First, is everyone really going to be using all of those devices at the same time? The answer is almost certainly no. Let’s assume 50% of these devices are actively used at any given time for email, web surfing,  cat videos, writing blogs, and so on. Everyone else is shopping, paying at the register or wondering if they have time for a Starbucks run later.

That leaves us with 30 active Wi-Fi devices: 5 per AP radio, or 10 per AP.

If that’s the case, why, you might ask, would someone put not one, or two, but three APs on their ceiling? This is not a physics or math problem. The answer, I suspect, lies in an intuitive understanding everyone shares: If a little bit of something is good, more is better.

But like ketchup on French fries or water in a bathtub, there is a limit after which more  makes things worse instead of better. Wi-Fi is like that. Flooding a space with more and more RF reaches a point where you’re gonna spend more time with a mop than enjoying a relaxing bath.

Here at Ruckus, we spend a lot of our hard-earned research dollars figuring out how to make Wi-Fi work even better and support more devices per AP. Not only does it give you more Wi-Fi for the dollars you spend, but it also reduces the potential for too much RF interference and the terrible troubles it would unleash on an unsuspecting IT network engineer. If you’re interested in learning more about RF interference and its impact on Wi-Fi capacity, check out this blog on the 3 myths of Wi-Fi – interference, capacity, and roaming. While you’re there, check out some other blogs written by really smart people who probably don’t stand in check-out lines staring at the ceiling and muttering to themselves.

In the meantime, keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to ask, “Is more really better?”


Continue reading:
3 Ways IT can be an OT Hero
Breaking up with old network paradigms

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

Are your wiring closets multi-gigabit capable?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Since the inception of ethernet switching back in the 1990s, the industry had normally introduced speed increments in variables of 10x. Over time we moved from 10 Megabits per Second (Mbps) to 100, 100 Mbps to 1 Gigabits per Second (Gbps), etc. So, when the new multi-gigabit standard was introduced in 2016 (802.3bz), many wondered why the industry would deviate from a tried and true system of growth to introduce 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) copper derivatives.

Truth is that the deviation from 10x increments actually started when the IEEE ratified the 100GbE standard back in 2010 (802.3ba). The addition of 40GbE as an option in that standard allowed the server virtualization and cloud phenomena boom to continue to grow, as many servers were capable of pushing much higher network data rates once they had multiple applications utilizing a much higher percentage of their capacity. The cost of a multiport 100GbE switch at the time would have been cost prohibitive to a majority of companies, so the move to 40GbE allowed manufacturers to produce a product that could meet the demands of the data center market at an affordable cost.

Fast forward five years to the current 2.5/5GbE addition and once again the industry is trying to assist customers in making the most out of what they have while keeping up with technological advances. With the eruption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the wireless industries continued advancement in WiFi speeds, there’s a need to be able to provide more than the current 1Gbps bandwidth that older WiFi access points required. As an example, the WiFi 6 standard (802.11ax) is capable of providing 1Gbps per spatial stream to wireless end-user devices. Most high-end access points have four spatial streams, so the theoretical ethernet requirement from a WiFi 6 access point upstream to the switch would be more than 4Gbps. Ruckus even sells an eight spatial stream access point that doubles that requirement to 8Gbps. These are theoretical maximums, and you should engineer your network to expect fifty to seventy-five percent of actual throughput from these devices in real-world situations, so the 2.5 and 5GbE standards are required to utilize the newest access points, without making them a bottleneck in your environment.

Another issue is that if we stayed with the 10x progression of the past, you’d be required to provide 10GbE to these access points, moving from 1GbE to 10GbE over copper. But 10GbE over copper requires you to have Category 6A copper installed in your infrastructure. The majority of older wiring closets and data jack cable runs are still Category 5e, which would not be able to handle the 10GbE speeds…but they could handle the 2.5GbE speeds at the same 100-meter limits that applied to the 1GbE devices. If you’re blessed and have Category 6 installed (the predecessor to 6A), you can actually run 5GbE 100 meters as well, maximizing the cabling that you already have, to provide a better networking experience to your WiFi and power users.

I’m not advocating that you go out and replace every switch in every closet with multi-gigabit switches today, although there are plenty of vendors, Ruckus included who would love to help you with that. I am advocating that you find out what your options are for adding multi-gigabit capabilities to your existing closet today, before you have to do it at the same time as your next wireless upgrade, or when the computer industry starts shipping 2.5GbE ports in the back of every CPU and your power users are demanding the additional bandwidth.

Given that the typical lifecycle of a wireless network is three to five years, and the typical lifecycle of a wired network is five to seven years (ten years in the education verticals), there’s a high probability that you’ll be implementing WiFi 6 in your network long before you have the opportunity to upgrade the switching infrastructure that it needs to run on. Is your wiring closet ready for a device that requires more bandwidth, and more Power over Ethernet (PoE) than any port on your current switch or stack of switches can provide? Does the switching vendor you currently use provide flexibility to mix and match your current 1GbE switches with some newer multi-gigabit (2.5/5GbE) switches in the same stack, or do you have to upgrade the entire stack to a new, higher-end model line? There are switch vendors who offer multi-gigabit capabilities in their lowest end stackable switches. Does your current switch vendor allow you to grow your wiring closet stack size above eight switches, allowing you to insert additional multi-gigabit switches in those higher-density closets where you may be maxed out at eight already? There are vendors out there that will let you grow your wiring closet stack well past eight, some as high as twelve switches.

The bottom line is that the requirement for higher speed wired networking at the edge is already here, and it’s only going to grow as the computer industry adds multi-gigabit as the default network interface on desktop computers, and WiFi 6 as the default wireless specification on laptops. If you’ve got a project planned to upgrade your wiring closets, heed my warning, since the switches you buy now have to get you through the next one or two generations of WiFi that are coming, and your wired power users as they start to get workstations with these higher speed capabilities built-in. As always, the entire Ruckus Technical Family is here to help you with any questions or requirements you may have concerning your next wired or wireless project.


Continue reading:
Using outdated Wi-Fi security procedures is like buying a blast door and leaving the key in the lock
Are you ready for a Network-as-a-Service model?

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

Using outdated Wi-Fi security procedures is like buying a blast door and leaving the key in the lock

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Simple, everyday connectivity mistakes can be more damaging than expected. More shockingly, they often go unidentified.

When meeting a prospect in the cafeteria I overheard an employee asking a colleague how to connect his new phone to the Wi-Fi and was shocked to hear the mention of inputting AD (active directory) credentials. In a company, like this, which invests significantly in security, surely these outdated mistakes should have been put to rest long ago.

When I asked this employee if he knew who he was providing his credential to it became clear that the question had never even crossed his mind. He explained to me that he was accustomed to the dialog box on his screen, having encountered it using his previous phone which had required him to update Wi-Fi client settings each time his company’s passwords were changed every three months.

There are several security risks to be aware of in this case. Let me explain why.

Protocols such as PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol) and TTLS (Tunnelled Transport Layer Security) were developed to provide enhanced security in Wi-Fi environments with minimal impact on the client (user) provisioning side, introducing username and password authentication. The principle is the following:

The client communicates with the authentication server by sending EAPoL (Extensible Authentication Protocol over Local Area Network) traffic to the AP that forwards it to the AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) server by encapsulating it into RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) packets.

There are various EAP methods that specify the ‘language’ used to connect the client to the AAA server; PEAP and TTLS are just two examples of these languages. The principle is to facilitate the client to authenticate the server by verifying a digital certificate, establishing a secure tunnel with the AAA server. Once this tunnel has been established, user credentials can be sent securely.

This method has the advantage of offering secure authentication without having to deploy a certificate on each individual client, an expensive and time-consuming exercise. PEAP or TTLS were defined when mobile device management or device onboarding solutions were still in their infancy in the early 2000’s.

The issue with mechanisms of this kind is that they rely on the client side to decide which server certificate to accept. Most operating systems will allow users to select or configure preferred certificates, and some might also accept untrusted certificates providing appropriate user warnings. The user may not necessarily be familiar with the implications or the consequent risks of making the wrong decision, more often concerned with getting connected as soon as possible. If the AP (authentication protocol) and the AAA server were rogue devices, making the wrong choice could allow a malicious a person to obtain the user credentials needed to access network connectivity or any other IT system used by that company.

Today many solutions are available to centrally automate this process and prevent human error from causing potential security risks. While some are OS specific such as Apple Mobile Configurator or Microsoft Group Policy Manager there are others available which support a wide variety of operating systems such as Cloudpath Enrollment System or other Mobile Device Management solutions. Additionally, some of those solutions can create a device certificate on the fly and install them on the user equipment immediately. This allows certificate authentication to be achieved on the mobile device as well as previously connected equipment without the need for user credentials, allowing the network to identify the device and not just its user.

A centrally automated process could allow IT departments to implement different network access policies based on the device being used (accommodating both personal mobile devices and company-owned laptops). Not only does this type of differentiation achieve more convenient data access controls for the user, it significantly reduces the risk of data breaches in Wi-Fi security.

View the original press release The Ruckus Room.

3 Ways a Mini-Multigig Provides a Big Boost

Friday, June 21st, 2019

New Compact Multigigabit Switch Adds Big Boost for High-Performance Use Cases

Ruckus Networks (now part of CommScope via acquisition) just introduced a compact multigigabit switch, the ICX 7150-C10ZP. It’s a small form factor 10-port switch, all of which are multigigabit ports. The new multigigabit switch has two ports that support 1/2.5/5/10 GbE and the other 8 are 1/2.5 GbE ports. The switch also includes two 1/10 GbE SFP/SFP+ port for uplinks and stacking. Its Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) budget is double that of our 1 GbE compact switch – and can deliver up to 90 watts of PoE per port. The switch is fanless for silent operation, making it ideal for use in classrooms, offices or retail environments, as well as in a switch closet (with the optional rack-mount kit).

When I first heard about the new switch, I scratched my head, wondering why this switch might become popular. Upon further consideration of the requirements for multigigabit connections, I see now that this switch has some extremely interesting prospects.

Multigigabit connectivity, 2.5 GbE and 5 GbE over standard Cat 5E (or Cat 6/6A) Ethernet cables, is just now starting to gain interest and popularity. Some of the high-end Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and most of the new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless access points coming to market over the past year have multigigabit Ethernet ports.

While these new APs are capable of more than 1 Gbps throughput, this rate is generally only required when there are large numbers of data-intensive, or video-intensive, users. The top scenarios for this are in large public venues. We see high demand for Wi-Fi 6 access points and multigigabit switches in arenas, convention centers, auditoriums, ballrooms and stadiums. These customers have been early adopters for Wi-Fi 6 APs and our high-end multigigabit switches.

We’ve also seen a steady increase in sales of our multigigabit switches, although many customers and reselling partners are still on the fence as to whether it’s worth the investment to upgrade their infrastructure from the current standard 1 GbE switches to multigigabit. It’s particularly for this latter group of customers that our new compact multigigabit switch opens up some exciting opportunities:

Multigigabit Sampler

Not sure if you really need multigigabit throughout your company or institution? 
Want to try out Wi-Fi 6 without overhauling your infrastructure or breaking the bank?
Just want Wi-Fi 6 in a few select [high-density] areas?

Our new compact multigigabit switch allows customers to “try out” multigigabit connectivity for a nominal investment. It offers a couple of ports with 10 GbE and 8 ports of 2.5 GbE. It’s a great test bed to see if the promise of multigigabit ports will really make a difference in the network. This switch is part of our entry-level, ICX 7150 series and is far less expensive than almost every other enterprise-class multigigabit switch on the market.

Furthermore, the ICX 7150-C10ZP can stack with other ICX 7150 switches. So, customers can easily deploy Wi-Fi 5 APs throughout their organization, connected to 1 GbE ports on standard ICX 7150 switches and use this new compact switch to deploy a limited number of Wi-Fi 6 APs in high-density locations, such as auditoriums, conferences rooms, etc.

High-Performance Mobile Network, or ”Pop-up” Network

Just need Multigigabit connectivity for a specific event or for a short time?

The ICX 7150-C10ZP switch provides customers with a mobile infrastructure for high-performance connections – either to connect a few Wi-Fi 6 APs or a few high-performance workstations. Uplinks from the switch can be either over fiber optics or copper Ethernet cables (up to 100m with Cat 6A).

Imagine bringing in the switch to deploy a few Wi-Fi 6 APs in an auditorium or gymnasium to deliver high-performance, high-density Wi-Fi for a special event. Perhaps an eSports event where the participants require low-latency high-speed Wi-Fi or high-speed connections for gaming workstations — all over existing Ethernet cabling. All without a complex, costly infrastructure overhaul.

High-Performance Classroom

Deliver the classroom of tomorrow, today

Network demands in schools are growing exponentially due to the growth of digital learning applications such as 4K video streaming and video collaboration, as well as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Further strain is placed on school networks by eSports league play, along with safety and wellness infrastructure such as CCTV cameras, smart locks and thermostats, as well as vaping and anti-bullying detection systems. The ICX 7150-C10ZP can deliver high-speed connectivity to support both digital learning and safety infrastructure. Moreover, the switch’s silent operation won’t be disruptive to the students. Last, but certainly not least, the Ethernet ports provide connections and high-power PoE for Wi-Fi 6 APs and high-end devices in the classroom such as workstations, VR stations, PTZ cameras and other devices.

These are just a few examples of new, cost-effective ways to deploy multigigabit technologies. How else could you see using this switch to save time and money? I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

Wi-Fi at 20: Bridging the performance gap towards ten-gigabit speeds

Monday, June 17th, 2019

The Wi-Fi Alliance recently interviewed Intel’s Doron Tal (General Manager, Wireless Infrastructure Group, Connected Home Division) about the past, present, and future of Wi-Fi. As we’ve previously discussed in The Ruckus Room, 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the popular and ever-evolving wireless standard.

According to Tal, the average home today has approximately 10-20 devices, a number that Intel expects to increase to 30-50 devices over the next year or so.

“Those devices are connecting over Wi-Fi and need fast, responsive and reliable connections to ensure the best experiences,” he explains. “Whether you are streaming HD video or creating and editing content or immersed in an online experience like gaming and virtual reality (VR), Wi-Fi is really important.”

The emergence of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), says Tal, is a significant step forward to deliver home connectivity that is faster, more responsive and more reliable.

“With Wi-Fi 6, you’re now able to control the traffic from the access point (AP) to the client in a very managed and provisioned manner that can actually be monetized in new ways,” he states. “We see a clear trend on the infrastructure side that deployments are shifting from a single AP to a multi-node architecture with different types of extenders.”

In the future says, Tal, the market will see reliable, smart and seamless Wi-Fi that supports immersive 3D video and augmented reality in very high definition, as well as new use cases in broadcasting, IoT, sensing and machine learning.

“The key to realizing the highly impactful Wi-Fi of the future, as these new and more diverse device types get introduced to the network, will be a lot of focus on making these networks self-organizing and self-healing so that they can be optimized for different experiences,” he adds. 

Commenting on the above, Ruckus’ Jeanette Lee, Sr. Director, Product Solutions and Technical Marketing, Ruckus Networks at CommScope, tells us that that Wi-Fi 6 is well on its way to bridging the performance gap towards ten-gigabit speeds. 

“Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster network performance, connects more devices simultaneously and effectively transitions Wi-Fi from a best-effort endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology,” she explains. “Designed for high-density connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 offers up to a four-fold capacity increase over its Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) predecessor. This further solidifies Wi-Fi’s position as the de-facto medium for internet connectivity.”

The advancements of Wi-Fi 6, says Lee, will benefit a wide range of consumer use cases, although they are particularly important for dense environments in which large numbers of users and devices are connecting to the network. Some specific scenarios that will benefit from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard include large public venues (LPVs) such as stadiums, convention centers and transportation hubs.

“Stadiums and convention centers offer high-speed Wi-Fi to improve the fan experience, increase customer interaction and create value-added services such as showing instant replays on smartphones and tablets or allowing attendees to order food from their seats,” she states. “However, stadiums and convention centers with tens of thousands of users simultaneously connecting to Wi-Fi pose definite scale and density challenges. The Wi-Fi 6 advancements around OFDMA, 1024 QAM, OBSS coloring, as well as faster PHY rates, will make it easier for LPV owners to create new business opportunities by offering enhanced services for guests.” 

In addition, says Lee, public transportation hubs are increasingly offering high-speed public Wi-Fi to passengers waiting for trains, buses, taxis and ride-sharing services.  

“Like stadiums, transportation hubs have high densities of people attempting to connect to the networks simultaneously. However, these hubs face the unique challenge posed by transient devices that are not connecting to the Wi-Fi network but are still sending management traffic that congests it. OFDMA and BSS coloring, both of which are part of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, provide the tools to manage and mitigate these challenges,” she concludes.

To view the original press release, visit The Ruckus Room.

Why you need 90 watts of PoE power

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) eliminates the need for an additional power source and a second set of cables to each device. The very first Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standard was ratified by the IEEE in 2003. The nascent standard delivered up to 15 watts of power for devices such as VoIP phones, Wi-Fi access points (APs) and IP cameras. In 2009, the IEEE ratified a new standard for PoE+ that delivered up to 30 watts at the switch. 

PoE

Two new standards in one – 60 watts and 90 watts

The unceasing demand for power in the enterprise has only increased over the past decade. As such, PoE is now standard for enterprise networks that support wireless access points (APs), VoIP phones and other devices. However, it should be noted that a new generation of power-hungry APs, video displays, pan-tilt-zoom cameras and many other devices require more than 30 watts. In recent years, individual vendors responded to this demand by creating protocols such as UPoE (60 watts) and PoH (95 watts). These protocols effectively formed the basis of the IEEE’s most recent 802.3bt standard. Ratified in 2018, the new standard defines two levels of PoE power: 60 watts (Type 3) and 90 watts (type 4).

Do I need more than 30 watts of PoE?

Devices that consumed more than 30 watts of PoE were hitting the market even before the 802.3bt standard was officially ratified. The most common devices were new generations of wireless Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access points. Although most of these APs operate at 30 watts, some require more power to drive the 4, 8 or 12 wireless radios to full power – and provide power for devices connected via their USB ports. Put simply, more than 30 watts is needed to take full advantage of certain Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 access points. In many cases, 40-45 watts is enough for optimal AP performance. Additional devices powered by PoE that can benefit from more than 30 watts include HD/4K video displays, point-tilt-zoom cameras, POS systems and smart LED lighting. Of course, this list is only growing.

Isn’t 60 watts more than enough?

As noted above, there are several devices that can take advantage of more than 60 watts of PoE at the switch. Much like Wi-Fi 6 APs operating with only 30 watts, many devices are designed to operate with less than optimal power – but only deliver their full capabilities when maximum power is available. One such example is smart LED lighting. Another is a wide range of IoT devices for office and building automation. We expect this trend to continue in the future for next-generation IoT sensors, access points, and video, as well as AR/VR infrastructure. 

If you build it, they will come

The recently ratified IEEE 802.3bt standard is serving as a catalyst for the design of high-powered devices and switches capable of delivering 60-90 watts. Ultimately, we expect the industry to clamor for even higher PoE levels. It should be noted that switch PoE capabilities are an important consideration when purchasing and future-proofing network infrastructure. Currently, the useful life of a switch is typically 5-7 years, although, in some deployment scenarios, the life-span can stretch up to 10 years. This means customers will have to determine how capable their switch purchases are of supporting both current and future PoE requirements.

Buyer Beware

Network vendors have united around the single 802.3bt standard described above. Most vendors advertise their compatibility with this standard, but only deliver the lower power level (60W).  Ruckus Networks (now part of CommScope via acquisition) is one of the few that has implemented the 802.3bt standard to the full 90 watts. While it is often challenging to accurately predict future requirements, having more power available now will significantly increase the odds of being ready for a new generation of energy-hungry devices.

View the original post by The Ruckus Room.

Breaking up with old network paradigms

Friday, June 7th, 2019

We’ve all seen it.

You walk into a switch closet and look around. Dust lies thick upon ancient switches—enough to dim LED lights in some cases. A herd of dust bunnies has taken up residence near the fan vents. Nobody has seen the power outlets in years, buried under grime and cobwebs.

The soft hum of equipment fills the air as the tech next to you beams. “It may be old, but it works!”

And if it doesn’t?

“At least we know all of the bugs and have workarounds,” says our new IT friend.

Of course, they do. But what if they absolutely must upgrade? Then what?

Anyone who has ever worked in IT knows the drill. You don’t upgrade firmware unless absolutely necessary. And you never, ever reboot. Why?

“It might not come back,” whispers the network engineer with a shiver. “You never know what will happen if you reboot or upgrade equipment.”

It almost sounds like superstition, but it’s plain practical sense and the reason so many IT departments put off upgrades—hardware and software—as long as possible. The purpose of IT is to deliver network and computing services and anything that takes that down, or puts it at risk, is a Big Problem.

Nobody Wants Downtime: Unless It’s in Hawaii

IT is about maximizing services and minimizing risk of downtime. Why take a chance with new and exciting bugs that will keep you late at the office or working through an extended maintenance period over the weekend?

Which brings us back to those packs of dust bunnies roaming wild and free through switching closets everywhere.

Eventually, time runs out and you need to upgrade for a new capability required by the business. We get that and we understand you because many of us have lived in that world. That’s why here at Ruckus we’ve spent so much time building products that minimize risk without sacrificing new capabilities:

  • Technologies like campus fabric and RF innovations in access points designed to optimize network performance and increase reliability
  • Switches with plenty of POE budget for any application need
  • The most scalable network controller architecture which, in virtualized form, SmartZone is almost limitless in its ability to be upgraded without a rip-and-replace
  • In-service stack updates (ISSU) for switches or multi-image AP deployments allow in-place upgrades without slowing down the network

How to Make a 1Gbps Connection Go Faster than 1Gbps

An age-old problem. You’ve got switches in the closets with 1Gbps uplinks, but you need something faster.

“Here we go,” sighs my IT tech guide. “I spent all this time building the network and now we’re going to change just for a little speed boost.”

What if you could make a 1 Gbps uplink port go faster? With the ICX 7150 switch Ruckus did just that. Buy it with 1 Gbps uplinks today and, when you’re ready, a simple command and license will upgrade to 10 Gbps uplinks. No new hardware.

My network engineer pauses to consider, eyes narrowed. “No hardware swap? What about a reboot? I bet there’s a reboot.”

Nope. No new hardware. No new software. No reboots.

This is why when we ask our customers what they like about their Ruckus network the answer is unanimous: “It just works.”

And we like that just fine.

View the original post at the Ruckus Room.

Ruckus takes on the competition with the R730 Wi-Fi 6 AP

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

The Ruckus Technical Marketing Engineering team recently pitted the company’s flagship R730 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access point against competing Wi-Fi 6 APs from vendor 1 and vendor 2. All tests were performed in a classroom with 60 MacBook Pro clients (802.11ac) connected to the 5GHz radio of each AP. It should be noted that one of the APs from a competing vendor had its second software defined radio turned off for these tests as well.

data-id=”4801

The AP Contenders

All APs were powered up using multi-gig ports of the ICX 7650 switch. WPA2-PSK encryption was enabled for the tests with an encrypted SSID. The Ixia Chariot testing software was used with endpoint software installed on each client device. TCP frame size was set at a standard 1460. 

The results? The R730 beat the competition by as much as 33% in downlink tests and 25% to 33% for uplink. These tests are with 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) devices, so results are expected to be even better when Wi-Fi 6 clients begin shipping in volume this year.

data-id=”4802

TCP-DL/UP Results

This test is useful when looking at performance with maximum frame size. However not all traffic uses large frame sizes. As a matter of fact, most applications don’t. What happens when we use smaller frame sizes?

The next benchmark test clearly illustrates Ruckus’ advantage with small packets.

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This test is notable because smaller packet sizes (65 bytes in this test) create higher CPU utilization on the AP. The reason vendor 1 and vendor 2 AP results flatline (or worse) is that they are hitting 100% CPU usage in the tests. Due to a superior CPU architecture, the R730 yields twice the throughput of the next best competitor. In real-world terms, this means the R730 delivers superior performance and user experience in deployments where smaller packet size is a crucial makeup in application traffic mix such as a large-scale VoIP deployment.

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A similar trend is seen with packet sizes of 256 bytes, 512 bytes, and 900 bytes. The Ruckus R730 consistently outperformed the vendor 2 by a considerable margin (200-400% higher throughput).

Summary

Although Wi-Fi 6 clients are just starting to hit the market, IT organizations looking to upgrade will still reap significant benefits with the Ruckus R730—even for their Wi-Fi 5 devices. As a matter of fact, they may see an improvement due to the R730’s superior architecture. These performance improvements will not only help existing applications, but they are also well-positioned to deliver on new technologies such as the greater demands of CPU-intensive WPA3 encryption.

You can visit the original blog on Ruckus’ website here.

Wi-Fi: $2 trillion and more than 13 billion devices

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Kevin Robinson, VP of marketing at the WiFi Alliance, recently noted that Wi-Fi has contributed approximately $2 trillion to the world’s economy – with more than 13 billion Wi-Fi devices in active use worldwide. According to Robinson, Wi-Fi is the primary medium for global Internet traffic, as more than 80% of traffic on the average smartphone is transferred via Wi-Fi.

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Today’s Wi-Fi: A victim of its own success

“While Wi-Fi has been incredibly successful, its success has brought a number of challenges,” he states.  “[Because] Wi-Fi [is] being used so broadly in different device types for different data applications, we see a very broad mix of data traversing Wi-Fi networks, which can ultimately lead to inefficiencies in how Wi-Fi is using a wireless medium.”

As Robinson explains, Wi-Fi is being utilized in ultra-dense deployments to provide coverage for stadiums and transportation hubs where the unscheduled, contention-based access paradigm of traditional Wi-Fi technologies can be problematic.

“We’re seeing Wi-Fi networks increasingly used to deliver connectivity between buildings in either enterprise or maybe city-wide deployments – and there are challenges that go along with that as well,” he adds.

Wi-Fi 6: Bridging the performance gap towards ten gigabit speeds

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), says Robinson, can help address the above-mentioned issues and limitations. 

“The benefits of Wi-Fi 6 become more pronounced as you add more devices to the network. This is important for dense deployments in the enterprise, university campuses, as well as residential areas,” he elaborates. “Wi-Fi 6 delivers diverse capabilities. Because of the ubiquity of Wi-Fi, it is the primary connectivity means in everything from AR and VR headsets to IoT devices… Wi-Fi 6 [also] delivers a more deterministic experience, meaning a more consistent user experience, regardless of the environment.”

Indeed, as we’ve previously discussed on the Ruckus Room, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has ratified five major iterations of the 802.11 Wi-Fi protocol, culminating with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) in 2013. However, despite a significant increase in speed, many organizations still find themselves limited by the Wi-Fi 5 standard, particularly in high-density venues such as stadiums, convention centers, transportation hubs, and auditoriums. To meet the challenges of high-density deployments, the IEEE recently introduced the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

From our perspective, Wi-Fi 6 will successfully bridge the performance gap towards ten-gigabit speeds. It delivers faster network performance, connects more devices simultaneously and effectively transitions Wi-Fi from a best-effort endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology, further solidifying its position as the de-facto medium for internet connectivity. Deployed in dense environments, Wi-Fi 6 supports higher service-level agreements (SLAs) to more concurrently connected users and devices with more diverse usage profiles. This is made possible by a range of features that optimize spectral efficiency, increase throughput and reduce power consumption. These include Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO)Target Wake Time (TWT)Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)BSS Coloring and 1024-QAM.

You can visit the original blog on Ruckus’ website here.