Ruckus launches the virtual SmartCell Gateway for Carrier-Class WLAN management in the cloud

Ruckus Wireless, Inc. has unveiled the industry’s first carrier-class virtualised wireless LAN (WLAN) controller.

May 21, 2014

Industry’s first NFV WLAN Solution for Service Providers and Enterprises Requiring Faster Time-to-Market, Increased Service Agility, and a Lower TCO

Ruckus Wireless, Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) has unveiled the industry’s first carrier-class virtualised wireless LAN (WLAN) controller, the Ruckus virtual SmartCell Gateway (vSCG), designed to streamline the creation of highly scalable and resilient cloud-based wireless LAN (WLAN) services.

The virtual SCG is the industry’s first carrier-grade Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) solution for mobile network operators (MNOs), multiple system operators (MSOs), managed service providers (MSPs) and enterprises requiring a carrier-class solution for centralised management of WLAN services that runs in the cloud. The Ruckus vSCG supports all of the WLAN controller features of the industry-leading Ruckus SCG 200, while enabling operators to more cost-effectively build scalable and resilient WLAN cloud services.

Designed for use with Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi ZoneFlex access points (APs), the Ruckus vSCG runs as a virtual application within either the KVM (Kernel-base Virtual Machine) or VMware vSphere virtualisation environments. The Ruckus vSCG is the first component in a larger Ruckus solution based on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV architecture. In addition, Ruckus Wireless plans to provide a virtualised infrastructure and services manager that handles management of Ruckus virtualised appliances. The manager will integrate support for open-source OpenStack, providing a common platform to host the Ruckus virtual appliances from a single pane of glass.

Unlike controller-less cloud alternatives that require service providers to relinquish WLAN management to third-party cloud services not under their control, the Ruckus vSCG gives organisations complete control over their cloud-based WLAN service offerings, empowering them to easily deploy a highly scalable and flexible offering supported by their own service level agreements.

Managed WLAN services represent a major revenue opportunity for MSPs as businesses of all types are looking to outsource this function. The Ruckus vSCG is well suited for this as it can run in either a dedicated or multi-tenant mode. In a dedicated mode, each managed services customer is assigned its own instance of the Ruckus vSCG running on a dedicated virtual machine (VM). In a multi-tenant mode, a number of managed services customers can share one instance of the vSCG. This makes the vSCG an even more cost-effective model for service providers by enabling them to easily and effectively roll out managed services in the way they choose, and with the ability to quickly scale when needed.

“Mobile network operators are increasingly exploring and evaluating architectures based on the principles of cloud computing and network function virtualisation,” said Sathya Atreyam, research manager, Wireless Network Infrastructure, IDC. “Carrier class wireless LAN and the associated managed services model is experiencing a transformational shift from being viewed as vertically integrated hardware and software bundled architectures to solutions that offer the flexibility of a cloud based, scalable and flexible multi-tenant deployment model.”

The Ultimate in Virtualised WLAN Management for Managed Service Providers

The Ruckus virtual SmartCell Gateway was designed from the beginning for carrier-class deployments. In addition to being highly scalable, reliable, and easily manageable, the Ruckus vSCG can also support value added Smart Wireless Services such as location based services and analytics like Ruckus SPoT Smart Positioning Technology and Ruckus SmartCell Insight (SCI), provide data plane flexibility, and carrier-class features like Hotspot 2.0 and multi-tenant support. The WLAN control plane traffic is handled within the vSCG virtual appliance layer, while the WLAN data plane traffic may be forwarded via either centralised or distributed paths. This provides for some Wi-Fi user traffic to be forwarded directly from the AP to the Internet, while other traffic is forwarded to an operator, partner, or enterprise network for additional handling.

The Ruckus vSCG stands alone as the only virtual Wi-Fi controller optimised for and able to meet the demands of carrier-class networks. Service providers purchase a license for each instance of the vSCG deployed, and then need only purchase licenses for the number of APs that need to be supported. Additional licenses can be added for a ‘pay-as-you-grow’ model. As more instances of the vSCG are required, additional instances can be easily deployed through management or provisioning utilities. There is no need to order and install additional proprietary hardware appliances.

“One of the challenges of delivering wireless LAN services at scale is having a platform that enables us to turn-up new customers quickly and in a cost-effective manner,” said Allen Miu, CTO of Frontiir, a leader in managed Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services in Southeast Asia.

With the goal of transforming the Myanmar IT industry, Frontiir, founded by a group of MIT alumni with Ph.D.’s in wireless technology, has quickly become well known in the region, winning several high-profile projects. As the official ICT provider of the 27th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the oldest regional sporting event in Asia, Frontiir was entrusted by the Myanmar Ministry of Sports to deliver a critical and time sensitive Wi-Fi project for use at the SEA Games, which were held last December in Myanmar. Frontiir was an early adopter of the Ruckus vSCG, utilising it as part of a massive Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi network deployed at 24 SEA Games venues across four cities, which served 35,000 SEA Games delegates and athletes, and over 100,000 spectators.

“Cost is an extremely important factor in Southeast Asia, because the region is a very price-sensitive market. The Ruckus solution allows us to quickly bring up additional virtual SCG instances on the x86 servers in our data centers, which is much more manageable and cost-effective than using specialised hardware appliances. I’m simply not aware of any other platform available today that can provide the scalability and flexibility of the Ruckus virtual SCG,” concluded Miu.

Sam Beskur is co-founder and director of U.S. operations for Global Gossip, a global MSP headquartered in Sydney, Australia that operates Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi networks around the world. Beskur says they are keenly interested in using virtualised WLAN management tools like the Ruckus virtual SCG to streamline their Wi-Fi business, reduce time-to-market, dramatically lower their opex, and better enable them to go after new market opportunities.

“With the Ruckus virtual SCG, we can now quickly spin up additional instances of the platform as demand dictates without having rack and stack discrete WLAN controllers,” said Beskur, who is also one of the first users of the vSCG. “This radically reduces our time-to-market, giving us a distinct competitive advantage. As more and more of our operations are moving into the cloud, we see the virtual SCG as a critical component to attacking new markets, streamlining our operational management services and opening new revenue streams previously out of reach due to the cost and complexity of conventional enterprise-class wireless LAN management technology.”