A Growing Product Portfolio
If you work with Ruckus Wireless equipment and have been keeping up with the growth of the company’s product portfolio, you may have realized that they don’t just sell Wi-Fi Access Points and WLAN Controllers anymore. Several short years ago, you would have been forgiven for having just a ZoneDirector and some Access Points lying around that allowed you to test the latest code release in your environment for any specific bugs pertinent to your customers. Today, however, you may require a somewhat more capable environment to fully embrace what Ruckus has to offer. The Ruckus product portfolio has now grown to include:
- A comprehensive set of indoor, outdoor and specialist APs.
- ZoneDirector, Unleashed, SmartZone and Ruckus Cloud WLAN Controller Options
- SmartCell Insight – Network Intelligence, Wi-Fi Data Analytics and Reporting.
- SPoT – Wi-Fi Location Based Services Engine (Acquired, 2013)
- Cloudpath Enrollment System – client provisioning, security and policy management for client devices (Acquired, 2015)
- Ruckus ICX Switches – a result of the Brocade acquisition of Ruckus Wireless in 2016 followed by the acquisition of Brocade by Broadcom and the planned sale of Ruckus Wi-Fi and ICX switches to Arris once that deal completes.
If you want to work with the comprehensive set of products that Ruckus has to offer, it makes sense to be able to work with them all in a laboratory environment.
Network Function Virtualization to the Rescue
Thankfully, building such a laboratory today (circa 2017) is actually relatively cheap due to the benefits of NFV and the ability to place some network functions in the cloud if needs be. If this was 2012 or 2013, you’d probably catch yourself buying a whole bunch of second hand networking appliances and stringing them together whilst cajoling your friends with close ties to networking vendors into giving you free code upgrades. Shh, it doesn’t need to be that way.
Nowadays, you can simply get yourself some capable x86 hardware or an Amazon / Google Cloud / Microsoft Azure account along with some virtual appliances and you are good to go! The lower cost of x86 hardware, availability of free hypervisors like ESXi / KVM and cheap cloud services means that you can now run an extremely capable laboratory environment for a fraction of what it would cost for a pure hardware appliance based environment.
NFV & Cloud
Ruckus have developed ALL of their new software products to run entirely in virtualized or cloud environments. The SmartZone controller has been designed to use a single platform whether deployed as a physical or virtual appliance. This means that running a virtual instance of the SmartZone controller will allow you to test and understand just about every feature and facet of a SmartZone deployment the same as if you were using the hardware appliance. All other Ruckus software products are available as virtual machines capable of running on either VMWare or KVM and are also available on several cloud providers (check the specific product release notes and installation guides).