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Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector 1000 review


Ruckus makes light work of secure wireless network deployment with a well-featured and affordable solution

Review Date: 20 Apr 2010

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £800 (£940 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

There may be lots of managed wireless network solutions available, but most are priced way beyond the means of SMBs, and many are complex to install and manage. Ruckus aims to offer an alternative that is affordable and easy to deploy and manage.

The ZoneDirector 1000 desktop unit supports up to 50 of Ruckus's ZoneFlex APs. For these you have a wide choice and in this exclusive review we looked at the new 802.11n dual-band 7363 APs.

The older ZoneFlex APs had to be big to accommodate Ruckus's smart array, which includes 12 high-gain aerials for improved range and signal quality. In response to customer requests, Ruckus has redesigned the aerial array to produce a smaller AP and also added more Ethernet ports at the back.

Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector 1000

Installation is swift. The ZoneDirector supports UPnP so you can access to its web interface from Windows Networks. This then runs a wizard for IP address assignment, creating SSIDs and securing administrative access.

The APs are deployed next. For testing we used a pair of the new 7363 models. As with all Ruckus APs, these support an external power supply and PoE and we had no problems powering them from an HP ProCurve 2626-PWR switch.

Deployment is quick. Once the APs come online, they find the ZoneDirector appliance, link up with it and, if required, update their firmware automatically. They then broadcast the SSIDs that have been configured on the appliance.

From the tidy dashboard you can see all detected ZoneFlex APs and their statuses, plus wireless clients and rogue APs. It considers all unknown APs as rogues and requires you to clear them manually. This is easy to do as you just view all rogues and mark selected ones as known. Note that Ruckus doesn't provide any containment features so won't block access to rogue APs.

A mapping facility helps locate rogue APs using triangulation, and we imported a JPEG of our office floor plan without any problems. The heat maps will also be useful for positioning your APs to get maximum coverage.

Each Ruckus AP supports up to 32 WLANs. During creation you provide an SSID, select a WEP or WPA/WPA2 encryption scheme and decide whether clients should be isolated from each other. Web authentication requires users to authenticate with the appliance's local database or an external AD or Radius server before they can access the network.

New features in the 8.2 appliance firmware bring in band-steering, which allows the APs to detect dual-band clients and direct them to either 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands to ensure they get the best reception. Ruckus's new SmartCast QoS will appeal more to enterprises with large user bases as it prioritises their airtime based on queues and credits.

Ruckus's ZoneDirector and ZoneFlex combo takes the pain out of deploying secure wireless networks. It's easy to set up, packed with useful features and priced just right for SMBs.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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