Ruckus unveils cloud-based Wi-Fi management

Ruckus Wireless' new Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service (SAMS) shifts local network infrastructure--such as WLAN controllers, authentication servers, captive portals, advertising engines and content filtering--into the cloud, a move the company claims will enable businesses to more quickly and easily roll out public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The two existing go-to-market models for public Wi-Fi access "are missing the mark," Salah Nassar, senior manager of enterprise product marketing at Ruckus, told FierceWirelessTech.

He said low-end, consumer-grade Wi-Fi hardware is often deployed, which cannot support advertising or data analytics regarding end users. Alternatively, high-end Wi-Fi equipment currently provided by managed services providers or value-added resellers "tends to be very expensive, very challenging to support, configure and deploy," Nassar added.

Ruckus' answer is to offer SAMS. "The big story behind SAMS is the simplification of deploying a high-end hotspot service, and the ability to allow our channel partners to enter this new market by providing a managed service. What was typically a solution provided by larger ISPs or managed service providers, with a big army of IT resources, now can be done by smaller resellers that only have a handful of IT guys," Nassar said.

SAMS is part of the vendor's new portfolio of Smart Wireless Services (SWS), a growing framework for layering value-added software services and virtualized management software over the company's Wi-Fi infrastructure products. Also included in the SWS portfolio are Ruckus' SPoT location services.

"We can deploy carrier-grade hotspots with our products and provide our partners a recurring revenue model, and that's very new for us as of this year, with the smart wireless services," Nassar added.

Ruckus set the stage for the introduction of SAMS during the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, when the company announced a strategic partnership with Global Reach Technology, which provides carrier-grade cloud-based Wi-Fi software solutions. The companies said they would bring together Ruckus' Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure solutions with Global Reach's cloud-based policy, management and authentication technology. That partnership formed the foundation for Ruckus' new SAMS offering.

Ruckus is positioning SAMS for any organization or venue offering managed public wireless access, such as shopping malls, stadiums, convention centers, airports and retail outlets. The venue can set and maintain its hotspots using web-based management tools.

Alternatively, channel partners can handle those functions. Ruckus is touting SAMS as an entry path for channel partners "looking to become managed service providers (MSPs), by creating recurring service revenues with minimal investment."

SAMS offers user analytics so venues can see how their Wi-Fi hotspots are being used. Data provided includes popular registration methods; total user sessions and visits; new and returning user visits; registration by device type, age group and gender; the most popular devices being used on the network; as well as the average duration of user sessions.

SAMS is priced on a yearly subscription basis per access point, with subscription periods running for one, three or five years.

Where WLAN management is required for either existing or newly deployed Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi access points, a SAMS hosted subscription is priced at $265.50 per access point per year. In cases where local WLAN management is already provided or desired through onsite Ruckus ZoneDirector controllers, SAMS cloud-based public access services are priced at $180 per access point per year.

Earlier this month, IDC predicted that worldwide cloud-managed infrastructure and managed services revenue will reach $653 million in 2014 and $2.5 billion by 2018. "Enterprises are seeing the big picture and definitely considering cloud-managed Wi-Fi for their remote sites when upgrading their networks," said Rohit Mehra, IDC vice president of network infrastructure.

For more:
- see this Ruckus release
- see this IDC release

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