Ruckus Seeks to Simplify Smart Mesh Wi-Fi Deployment

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Wireless vendor Ruckus says its channel partners are finding success selling the new version of Wi-Fi, 802.11n, to the hotel market.

While your typical office that's already wired for Ethernet may not be scrambling to get in on the first wave of 802.11n deployment, some vertical end customers may be good candidates for the new version of Wi-Fi technology.

Ruckus Wireless, which introduced a channel program six months ago and now works with 200 VAR partners, said that health care facilities and hotels are among the best candidates for the deployment of such wireless technology, particularly the new Smart Mesh offering introduced by the company April 21.

"This Smart Mesh system we are introducing delivers a new economic model for deploying wireless LANs for partners at half the cost and in half the time," said David Callisch, vice president of marketing at the company. "VARs are too busy selling to be Wi-Fi experts, so this system is designed to configure itself."

And the company has met with some success selling through its VARs in the hotel space.

"There are lots of hotels with in-room, modem-based hardwire connections where the data traffic goes over the phone line infrastructure—typically Cat 5 cabling—of the hotel," said Michael Gompers, president of systems integrator One Media Wireless, which is a Ruckus channel partner.

"And there are a lot of properties that have that installed, but don't have any wireless coverage, and that's a big market," he said.

Gompers said that those hotels are looking to get on the wireless bandwagon. But it's been a challenge because to drop access points into the hotel has historically required cabling.

"How do I get from behind the front desk to the seventh floor halfway down the hall?" he asked. "It's a physical challenge." 

Gompers said that Smart Mesh technology in Ruckus' 802.11n implementation allows him to deploy a full wireless solution in the hotel without the need for much cable installation.  That's the system he used to deploy wireless at the Crowne Plaza Omni in New York City, he said. It's a 19-story building with two conference floors, and he was able to cover the space with wireless connectivity with just 20 access points, he said.

"Now access points can mesh with each other and provide multiple paths to the Internet," he said.  So Gompers can just plug the access points into a power source and they will connect to each other, working like repeaters to take the traffic to and from the hotel's Internet access point.

Ruckus' access points cost a little more—$259 to $359 list price—compared with the cost to drop a Cat 5 connection at about $250, Gompers said, but you don't have to pay the costs of the physical challenges that go with ripping the walls open to install cabling.

Ruckus's Callisch said the industry has not offered many wireless LAN products for midmarket companies—those with 100 to 1,000 employees.

Ruckus is working with Synnex as its national distributor to provide fulfillment and credit check services. Callisch said VARs receive 30 to 40 points of margin built into its products. The company offers online training free of charge, and additional classes at its offices for a fee.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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