Ruckus' Little Dog

Ruckus' Little Dog

By CWNP On 03/15/2010 - 20 Comments

The title of this article aside, I have a deep deep distaste for little dogs. They’re either yapping annoyingly or showing their teeth while snarling (that is not cute, or funny, BTW). In sum, I really do not like little dogs, and I have two words: alligator food. Sorry to little dog owners everywhere.

OK, now that my own personal issues have been addressed, I’d like to take note of Ruckus’ new little dogs, their 7300 series ZoneFlex APs. In the past 6 months or so, we’ve seen at least 4 vendors release low-priced dual-radio 2x2 APs targeted at the small to medium enterprise customer. So far, we have Aruba’s AP 105, Aerohive’s AP 120, Meraki’s MR14, Motorola’s AP 650 (2x3, but fits the same market segment), Trapeze’s MP-82 (2x3), and probably others that I can’t remember off the top of my head. While I didn’t write a blog about it (I’m hoping for provide a more thorough review of their new branch solution in Q2), Motorola’s entry into this segment with the AP 650 marked the lowest price point we’ve seen thus far at $495 list for dual-radio 802.11n. Other than Cisco, it seems that everyone is playing here. Not to pick on Cisco, as I’d wager a steak dinner that theirs is coming along sometime soon.

Anyway, Ruckus has just jumped into the same game with their ZoneFlex 7300 APs. To rehash the basics, we’re talking about a 2x2:2 AP, which puts the data rate cap at 300 Mbps. Ruckus comes to market with a few notable additions in their product. Trying to provide the greatest role flexibility for a low-cost device, they’ve included 3 Ethernet ports. One is a Gigabit interface, designed for AP connectivity to the network infrastructure, and supplies the AP with 802.3af power. The other two are 10/100 and were included to support wired nodes in different implementations. This is handy for hospitality where some folks want to wire in to the network or the owner of the network may want to connect IP phones or other networked services. Remote kiosks or PoS locations requiring local wired connectivity while using mesh backhaul would also be an ideal use case of the extra ports. Further providing differentiation, Ruckus added a USB port for those cases when WAN backhaul redundancy is desirable.

The hardware looks to be pretty thin from the pictures, and specs say 3.6 cm, which is about 1.5 inches. This little guy joins the other small form-factor, internal antenna, beautiful-looking APs out there today, but puts a new emphasis on the 802.11n price war. Price has been a calling card for Ruckus from the start, so they’re sticking to their guns here by staying near the head of the pack. The dual-radio model (7363) lists for $599, while the single-radio unit comes in at ($499), which is on par with Aerohive’s recent release of a single-radio 2x2 (AP 110).

I have to imagine that the antenna array received some modifications to fit into this little box…actually, I am sure it did. This is confirmed by the fact that this antenna has only 300+ unique combinations, which is down from the 4000+ of their high end APs. I say “only” and laugh at myself for the word choice, as 300+ is at least 299 more than everyone else. The preliminary stats look good, and for those customers who are cost-conscious (that’s the whole point of this market segment, right?) and like the benefits of added range from the AP, these guys will be tough to beat. Plus, I have a hunch that their performance metrics will compare favorably as well. Testing shall follow.

As summary, Ruckus joins the crowded low-priced enterprise sandbox with a few differentiators. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but a strong competitive entry no less.

Tagged with: 2x2, ZoneFlex 7300, Ruckus Wireless

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