The simplest multi-access point wireless installation that I have ever installed was to install Ruckus Wireless gear. I stumbled across Ruckus by reading comments in spiceworks forums , and from those who used it for their own network. So, I thought that I would investigate. The first company where I installed Ruckus gear had an entirely outdated wireless system. It was only wireless g and only 2.4Ghz at that. There were deadspots behind every obstacle, the guest network options did not work properly, and it was hard to manage incoming and outgoing personal devices on the company network.
The company had found itself in a lease with more office space than they needed (50,000 sqft). There were lots of open spaces and their employees would go into unused spaces looking for a quiet place to work. Frustration mounted when the wireless was weak in these areas. Additionally, everybody was bringing their own personal devices and wanting to add them on the network. In the old system, they took down every MAC address that had to be added, then when somebody left, they tried to find it and eliminate it from the list. The list had grown and was unmanageable.
The Ruckus Solution
We suggested a simple 4 access point (ZoneFlex7363’s) system with a single Zone Director 1106 to manage them. The Zone Director would manage up to 6 access points and would find, and add them to the wireless configuration automatically. To make things even easier, they had an available POE switch to power the access points when we mounted them in the ceiling meaning we didn’t need to run power cables or add electrical outlets to power the access points. The system supported wireless a-n and 2.4 and/or 5Ghz.
The Zone Director 1106
Once we received the equipment, the first thing that we installed was the Zone Director. After assigning it an address, and logging in, we quickly made 2 WLANs. One for the employees and another for the guests.
The employee WLAN was configured to authenticate against the company’s Windows Server Active Directory. This allowed all employees to login with whichever wireless device they needed to as long as their active directory account was in good standing. If an employee left the organization, the Active Directory account was eliminated and wireless access was then denied.
Ruckus Zoneflex 7363
We purchased four Ruckus Zoneflex 7363 access points and mounted them on the ceiling. They are all running using POE run from the communication room to their locations on the ceiling tiles.
Separate Guest Network
The guest network was the best part. The decision was made to grant guests access directly to the internet only. This was done by configuring it for full isolation mode. This permitted guests to connect to the internet as needed, but did not allow them to connect to any internal servers or workstations. This was perfect for their vendors who would come in to demo products, their annual accounting auditors and even the board of directors when they came for their quarterly meetings. With the Zone Director, the receptionists could now create guest user accounts on the wireless system that had access for anywhere from 1 hour to as many days as they wanted. This took the entire burden of helping company visitors out of the IT teams hands and made a very professional impression on the guests.
Create a Heat Map with SWAT
What pleased the IT staff the most, however, was the free Ruckus SWAT or S.W.A.T. iPad app that allowed them to go around their building and measure the wireless performance throughout the office. The app then created a report complete with a heat map that helped to find any dead zones and then to move the access points around to get the optimal coverage throughout the building.
The Ruckus system provided all of the features that the company needed with a few extras. The IT staff’s wireless headache was gone and the receptionists were handling all of the guest access.
Installing a Ruckus Wireless system in a small business is pretty much a DIY project. The hardest part is just deciding which of their various access points, zone directors to get and whether or not you need a POE switch to power them.
If you would like help installing a Ruckus or other wireless system, make a comment or send your question through the Contact Us page and I will get back to you.