Ruckus Wireless, Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) has unveiled the first Cloud-based Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service (SAMS) that combines the scale, efficiencies and cost-effectiveness of Cloud-based services with best-in-class Smart Wi-Fi products and technology to give organisations the power to now easily design, manage and monetise Wi-Fi services from an intuitive ‘point-and-click’ Cloud-based portal.
The first of a new breed of Ruckus Smart Wireless Services (SWS), SAMS enhances the guest experience by letting businesses quickly create and customise wireless hotspots for single or multiple sites without building extensive data centers, or deploying expensive and cumbersome infrastructure typically required for offering managed Wi-Fi access services. SWS is a flexible framework for layering value-added software services such as Cloud-based wireless access (SAMS) and Ruckus SPoT location services, as well as virtualised management software over carrier-class Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure products and platforms to give organisations unprecedented flexibility to build reliable, scalable and robust Smart Wi-Fi solutions based on their specific requirements, and to enable channel partners to easily migrate to recurring revenue-based service models.
Unlike other public wireless access alternatives, SAMS combines all the necessary infrastructure components and service elements into a single solution. Ideal for any organisation or venue offering managed public wireless access, such as shopping malls, stadiums, convention centers, airports and retail outlets, SAMS transforms the traditional model for offering managed Wi-Fi services by moving local network infrastructure, such as WLAN controllers, authentication servers, captive portals, advertising engines and content filtering into the Cloud as a service.
“The benefits the Cloud brings to the wireless access market is undeniable,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “Beyond delivering world-class Wi-Fi infrastructure solutions, with SAMS, Ruckus continues to give its partners and customers the ability to realise greater value from Wi-Fi through innovative new services such as Cloud-based access, location services, rich analytics and the ability to begin monetising their networks.”
In a new report¹, IDC estimates that the worldwide enterprise market for Cloud-managed WLAN infrastructure and managed services is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2018. The report states that “Cloud computing has shifted the paradigm of enterprise IT from being hardware driven to service driven. As more enterprises seek new ways to optimise existing resources and build capacity at the network edge, expect to see the rise in Cloud-managed Wi-Fi adoption continue for years to come.”
According to the report, Enterprises are searching for increasingly sophisticated network functionalities despite continually tight budgets and limitations around infrastructure, space, and staffing. Moreover, many Enterprises need a singular, centrally managed and controlled network for branch locations that are geographically dispersed.
As WLAN management shifts to the Cloud, venue owners now have access to cost-effective, easy to manage enterprise grade wireless at a lower total cost ownership (TCO). SAMS delivers flexible deployment and management options through a simple, Web-based portal that allows highly customised Wi-Fi access services to be defined and created in a matter of minutes, and provided at a low TCO.
Customers simply define the attributes of the wireless access service required at a given venue, and then have an authorised Ruckus Big Dog channel partner turn on the services for them, either for existing Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi customers and/or those who desire to keep a traditional wireless LAN (WLAN) configuration (onsite subscription) or after just installing the requisite number of Ruckus ZoneFlex access points (APs) onsite (hosted subscription). SAMS does the rest. In turn, the venue benefits from best-in-class wireless connectivity at each site, supported by an easy-to-use Cloud-based platform that scales on demand within a ‘pay as you grow,’ fully managed Cloud service.
Opening the Door to Recurring Revenue Services for Valued Added Resellers
Tailored for venues looking to more easily and conveniently offer users a better wireless access experience without the need for multiple services from multiple vendors and extensive IT staff or infrastructure equipment at every site, SAMS also represents a compelling new managed services opportunity for channel partners looking to become managed service providers (MSPs), by creating recurring service revenues with minimal investment.
From a single, easy-to-navigate Web-based console in SAMS, channel partners can now easily create, customise and manage a wireless access service on behalf of a wide range of customers. SAMS can be set up and managed either by the channel partner or the customer’s own staff with a minimum level of IT expertise, through the use of intuitive Web-based management tools, including flexible and customisable advertising tools that are simple and easy to create and set-up.
Once the service is configured through a simple wizard driven setup, Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi access points automatically “phone home” to register with the Cloud controller. However, unlike other Cloud-based Wi-Fi services, if the access points can’t reach the Cloud controller, local access services are not disrupted. Ongoing management of SAMS and monitoring of access points and clients, along with historical reporting, is provided through a comprehensive network portal that gives administrators a wide range of controls, such as creating AP zones, templates and management domains for different customers.
At the heart of SAMS is the Ruckus SmartCel Gateway (SCG), key Ruckus controller technology hosted within the Cloud in partnership with Global Reach (see related release). The Ruckus SCG is a carrier-class wireless management platform that provides unprecedented scalability and secure multi-tenancy support.
Unmatched Deployment Flexibility and Remote Control Over Wireless Access Services
SAMS works transparently with Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi access points and/or on-premises Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controllers for unmatched deployment flexibility, compared with existing hotspot services. All requisite authentication services, WLAN administration and service management tools are integrated directly within SAMS.
When configuring SAMS, customers have complete control over service branding and functionality, such as the ability to enable authentication with popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Service enforcement controls can be used to limit the length and number of sessions, restrict bandwidth consumption or filter access to specific content.
To further customise access services and enrich the user experience, SAMS provides a rich set of user analytics that can be collected over periods of time. Each venue is provided with a view into their wireless access service from a single Web-based dashboard. From this dashboard, customers have at-a-glance information such as popular registration methods, total user sessions and visits, new and returning users visits, registration by device type, age group and gender, and the most popular devices being used on the network, as well as the average duration of user sessions.
Managed Wireless Access Simplified
The process to enable managed wireless access with SAMS is simple. Once logged into the service portal, customers simply create a new site, configure access settings, customise the registration page and user journey and upload any ads or message to be displayed.
¹Source: IDC, Cloud-Managed WiFi Set to Grow to $2.5 Billion by 2018, Doc #247738, Mar 2014