Part of what separates Ruckus Access Point solutions from other AP installations is the patented technology that creates unique benefits and features for the Ruckus line. The first, and often most consequential in terms of wireless connectivity, is BeamFlex.
What is BeamFlex? Put succinctly, BeamFlex is the strategic combination of Ruckus engineered high-gain antennas elements and proprietary patented software.
Now, that’s a lot to digest, especially for those unfamiliar with the hardware terminology. Imagine, if you will, a giant water balloon sitting on a table. This will be our analog for the wireless energy that comes out of your average AP.
The balloon's natural inclination is to spread out evenly, creating an orb of water and rubber. This is akin to how your average omnidirectional antenna would radiate wireless signals in all directions.
In our balloon example, suppose you squeeze the balloon on one side. Well, in this case, the water in the balloon would push to the opposite side, concentrating the water pressure to one side of the balloon. In a similar way, BeamFlex focuses the signal from the access point toward a particular direction. Instead of a random squeeze, however, BeamFlex directs that energy toward the best path to devices that receive the signal.
This happens dynamically, meaning that Ruckus Access Points re-configure the antenna pattern to focus coverage. With BeamFlex’s directional performance, a given environment has the potential for increased signal gain.
Still a bit in the dark? Instead of a water balloon on a table, think about cupping your ears to hear a sound better. Creating a cone around your ears helps concentrate the sound information in front of you while mitigating the signal from behind you. The result is that you hear better. In the case of BeamFlex, you can expect a signal gain of up to 10 dBi as RF energy extends.
This coincides with the cutting of noise from interference from other sources:
Using BeamFlex, Ruckus Wireless Access Points can mitigate up to 15 dBi of noise interference.
The main benefit of BeamFlex technology is better consistency, reliability and higher throughput gained through the use of this patented software and engineered high-gain antennas. Campuses can also benefit from the increased range of Ruckus Access Points using BeamFlex.
Devices also see improvement from BeamFlex antennas and their dual polarization. In other, non-BeamFlex access points, a problem occurs when the physical orientation of a device changes. With other access points, just holding a smartphone in a horizontal positioning can reduce performance by up to 30%.
As you can imagine, this limits the usability of a device. Let’s say you put your smartphone down to create a solid base to accomplish your daily tasks. If you’re not using a Ruckus Access Point with BeamFlex, you can expect a reduction in overall connectivity and performance.
BeamFlex can have a massive impact on how effective and optimized your wireless network operates. But it's not the only feature built into Ruckus Access Points that can affect how well devices interact with a wireless network.
Alongside BeamFlex, Ruckus Access Points feature:
ChannelFly helps Ruckus Access Points search for the best RF channel to use during operation. For example, the 2.4 GHz frequency has non-overlapping channels of one, six and eleven.
A problem occurs when RF environments are using these three channels all the time — which happens quite often in busy work areas. The result is oversaturated channels and less than reliable wireless access. Before 802.11ax coloring (link to coloring whitepaper), ChannelFly helps mitigate the ill effects of oversaturation by searching for the most efficient channel for connected clients.
It will move the AP to that particular channel and, as a result, clients will have better access to that AP. ChannelFly finds the most effective communication path for the client — reducing connection slowness and network dropouts. With ChannelFly, the overall performance of client connectivity can improve up to 50%.
SmartCast is all about creating a smoother experience for clients connected to an AP. Basically, it identifies and prioritizes applications. This feature intelligently optimizes voice and video reliability and consistency. It will push application traffic ahead of normal HTTP traffic, like web browsing or emails.
Next is SmartMesh. Instead of manually connecting access points together using a switch, SmartMesh connects access points wirelessly. Why is this important?
Imagine a rapid response team needs a network extended across an entire parking lot quickly. Using SmartMesh, we can deploy several access points before cables and switches are ready to deploy. One AP is connected to a hardline (the root) while the rest connect to the root and each other to create a wireless mesh network. We can have a fully wireless network in minutes while teams stand up the critical wired infrastructure that make up the rapid response area.
Well, imagine that two access points are working together to provide reliable network access.
In this scenario, both access points have a wired connection. Suppose one hard-wired connection goes out and brings down the AP. Well, SmartMesh can recognize this fault and sniff out the neighboring AP to create a wireless connection that connects the failed AP. The result is optimal network performance even when hard-wired connections fail.
Last is Airtime Fairness (ATF). The advanced ATF algorithm helps organize network traffic by speed. Think of Airtime Fairness as a policeman directing traffic. It can allow faster connections to pass by slower clients and vice versa. With Airtime Fairness, clients experience a much more reliable and overall better experience when connecting to Ruckus access points.
Those are a few standouts in terms of Ruckus exclusive patented technologies. All in all, these features perform behind the scenes to create seamless and uninterrupted wireless access. They each represent a significant effort to develop more sustainable solutions for environments where minor errors cause serious problems.
For the US Military and Federal organizations, wireless access is mission critical. can be a significant hindrance to daily operations. Not to be too dramatic, but mission success or failure could mean lives saved or lost. Devices and clients require clean and clear access to perform their duties, and the Ruckus line of access points provides that reliability in almost every situation.
When an individual fails to access the network to use an app, send an email or join a video chat, the lack of a reliable connection can be all too apparent. The first thing that often carries the weight of the blame is the wireless network. But Wi-Fi doesn't suck. It is more likely a lack of intelligent design and engineering.
The reality is that each environment may require a different approach for optimal network performance. You can’t use the same design for a hangar as you would an office. So, why do we approach and design wireless networks in a cookie-cutter fashion so that both of these environments get the same treatment?
While Wi-Fi is invisible to the naked eye, you’ll find that a lot is happening in the radio waves to ensure devices have unparalleled access to a network. We’ve already explored some of the standout features of the Ruckus line. All those patented technologies help mitigate the risk of interference and help concentrate the signal for better performance.
Unfortunately, that’s only part of the equation. The environment, and the intended use, will all play a role in how well a deployment will function. For the decision-makers in organizations, taking an intelligent approach to Wi-Fi means understanding the intricacies in each deployment. Bad Wi-Fi is less about the equipment and more about implementation to meet mission objectives.
First and foremost, let’s expel the notion that all Wi-Fi is the same. Most people believe all wireless is equal. Go to Staples or Best Buy, grab an access point, and plug it in. Because Wi-Fi is such a forgiving medium, it works right out of the box. And because of this out-of-the-box functionality, most people believe all wireless is equal. This is far from reality. Not only is it that an AP from Staples is different from Cisco, Aruba, or Ruckus, but implementing a wireless network is not as simple as opening a box from BestBuy.
The remedy comes from integrated product solutions. You can’t stick an AP in the corner of each room and hope for the best. That’s exactly why ID Technologies assesses your team’s needs and the space to design a network that works with your environment and not against it.
Looking at the Open Systems Interconnection stack (OSI) and you’ll see technologies that all work together to provide our connected world the access required to get the job done. That first layer, the physical layer, is the most essential piece to any network; the connection
Without Layer 1, you won’t be able to connect and communicate, you cannot be successful in your mission. It's that important. When we talk about engineering and designing solutions, we mean solutions for optimizing this Layer 1 physical connection. It’s the bedrock of any network. Without a solid foundation, network connectivity issues will be a regular nuisance.
For large deployments, like Military campuses, you can’t expect reliability without taking Layer 1 seriously.
What works for a small room of 15 people won’t work for a massive campus with hundreds of connected devices. An experienced wireless engineer will understand the fundamentals of network architecture to meet the demands of the environment. In most cases, they might even be able to use the exact same hardware but engineer it in a way to maximize performance. This means that the hardware isn’t the issue at all.
Here’s the thing; you could, if you wanted to, outright buy an AP and set it up yourself — no problem. In many cases, this might provide a basic connection that would be useful in many situations. For small coverage areas, this kind of approach may work. For large campuses, it won’t.
Remember, what works for your home won’t work for a large space with lots of interference issues. In almost every situation, you’ll want a service provider to come in and configure your access points. They will work with the design developed from the wireless architect’s site assessment. During this assessment, the wireless architect will use both predictive analysis and a walk-through of the space to determine the actual layout of the access points and other network equipment.
It's a dense process that includes looking at the impact of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands in an environment. It also includes a thorough inspection of what interference issues might look like in a particular space — and there may be quite a few.
When we talk about engineered solutions, this is what we mean. Cookie-cutter deployments do not work in many instances. For the most part they fail to meet the demands of modern workspaces and US Military operations.
Wi-Fi gets a bad reputation for being faulty. But that blame is misplaced. It should rest on the lazy cookie-cutter approach taken by other manufacturers and wireless installers. It's not to say that using a general template for a deployment is bad practice; it’s just not the right choice for every environment. Using Ruckus access points with BeamFlex and an intelligent approach to design, networks can benefit from optimized connectivity that allows for better productivity in the workplace. That doesn't happen by haphazardly placing access points in every room. That kind of approach won’t fly in sensitive network environments where performance is the name of the game.
Let’s say you opt for a quick and painless one-size-fits-all installation. While it might seem like the preferred choice on paper, it will create some issues down the road. For example, if access points are too close to each other, they can interrupt and interfere with each other's signal. It’s a common problem you see in spaces where intelligent designs haven't been taken into consideration.
It’s easy to opt-out of an engineered design, even if you’re fully aware of the benefits. Cookie-cutter wireless deployments are seen as more cost-effective when compared to having to adjust the budget to accommodate a full assessment and design from an expert. In many cases, though, you’re getting much more than an efficient and reliable installation, you will save money on access points and switch port count.
An intelligent design means the wireless architect is taking the time to see what equipment you need and what equipment you don’t. Looking at access points specifically, designing a wireless deployment means creating an environment where access points won’t interfere with each other. In many cases, this means using fewer access points and placing them in strategic locations.
It's not the case that more is better. These are the kind of changes that are left out when taking a one-size-fits-all approach to access points and Wi-Fi network connectivity. Especially with Ruckus access points, you can expect better quality with less equipment. With BeamFlex, a wireless architect can design a system where access points located in specific areas concentrate the signal to allow clients sustained access.
Filling a space with access points isn’t the strategic solution. In many cases, you’ll be spending more on equipment and getting a lower-quality network. Every space is different. Only a trained wireless engineer can make the determinations necessary to create an intelligent design that gives you unparalleled access to a quality connection.
It’s kind of like having work done on your car. Sure, you could take your vehicle to any old auto shop, and they would probably take a one-size-fits-all approach to car maintenance. This works for many different types of vehicles — but not all.
Imagine that a US Military campus is a Ferrari. It’s complicated and nothing like the 1974 Chevy pickup. You wouldn’t want to take this vehicle to your average auto shop; you’d take it to a specialist who knows how to approach your specific vehicle. It's much the same with wireless deployments.
What works for your average office space won’t provide the same reliable wireless connection for a large military installation. The environments are vastly different — and for WiFi, that means quite a lot.
These days, all you hear in the Wi-Fi world is what’s coming next. But, as we’ve learned, even with the latest and greatest technology, you can still experience poor wireless connectivity. This means dropouts and interference.
Will the coming shift to Wi-Fi 7 solve these issues? The fact is, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels are oversaturated and under-engineered. Wi-Fi 7 will help eliminate some of these oversaturation and engineering issues by using the RF medium more efficiently, offering higher data rates through channel bonding and the introduction of 6GHz spectrum. Even so, you’ll still need intelligent network design to be successful.
The wireless networks of the future will combine all three Wi-Fi frequency spectrums to create efficient and powerful networks. It won’t happen with the hardware alone, though. The demand for engineered solutions will grow as more devices take advantage of Wi-Fi spectrum such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Without proper engineering, your Wi-Fi network will suffer.
It’s true that the WiFi Alliance is creating strategic solutions to help mitigate these risks. Even so, for large campuses and unique deployments, the importance of implementing intelligent network designs will be that much more critical.
If you’re taking a cookie-cutter approach to AP deployment, the only thing that really matters is the size of the space. Looking at something like an Air Force hangar, and you may only see a large square footprint. So, why not throw up a few access points and call it a day?
These spaces are not empty. In reality, the ground floor of a maintenance hangar is a mess of parts, storage and equipment. You’ll find all kinds of materials that can cause possible reflection and interference. Busy environments like this won’t benefit from an under-engineered approach.
This vast space filled with reflective material is a considerable menace to wireless connectivity and communication. All this material interferes with RF technology, like Wi-Fi. You’ll experience issues almost immediately.
With Ruckus and BeamFlex in particular, providing reliable WiFi access to Air Force hangars is not an issue. A wireless engineer can develop a thorough assessment of the space that includes everything within it. Other AP manufacturers rely on this level of reflection to glue their signals together for comprehensive coverage. With a space like a maintenance hangar, though, too much reflection exists to create reliable coverage. This is where BeamFlex from Ruckus is a game-changer. With the ability to direct RF energy to the client, there is no reliance on the reflective signal as with other OEMs. BeamFlex allows more consistent faster connection in these very noisy places.
When it comes to engineering, without assessing the space, you may never discover the other sources of RF interference that are causing connectivity problems. For instance, if your parts management system operates using RFID tags leveraging a proprietary wireless network, that will affect the reliability of the Wi-Fi signal. You will not find that during a predictive design effort.
As you can imagine, these are the kinds of problems that give Wi-Fi a bad reputation for being shoddy. But Wi-Fi isn't the issue here; it’s the fact that no time was taken to truly design a system that works with the environment. With Ruckus Access Points and a thorough assessment through IT Technologies of the space, problems like RF interference are no longer a pain in the side of daily operations.
Working with ID Technologies means your environment gets the attention it deserves. Utilizing the latest and greatest Ruckus Access Points is only part of the process. Our team of wireless professionals will take the time to understand your needs and your current problems.
Every environment will be different, and no one solution will work for everyone. That’s why we always strive to address the specific needs and challenges of our clients. To design a wireless deployment solution that works means examining every aspect of your business and your daily operations. How does wireless mesh with your job? What do you need reliable wireless access for?
What works for transferring files from a flight line to a desk in a building may not be the same solution for someone who needs to operate a drone with a five-mile range. Each situation is different, and that’s why we approach each of our clients in this way.
Once we understand what you need wireless access for, then we can move on to how the environment may affect the network. This is where the design aspect of our deployments comes into play. What does the environment look like? Is there a high density of devices? What about reflective materials?
Using predictive analysis and on the ground assessments, we can determine an order of magnitude and find the right Ruckus products to maximize worker productivity and network performance.
Some situations will call for special equipment, like the ID Technologies WEB Slinger. Others will require developing wireless mesh links utilizing node linking. The only way to know is through a thorough engineering assessment.