A development more or less related to the new generation of mobile internet (5G) is the Internet of Things (IoT). This is one of the areas in which Ruckus Networks wants to distinguish itself in the network market, by means of its IoT Suite. We discussed the IoT management platform and associated components with Greg Beach, Vice President of Wireless Products at Ruckus Networks.

It is important for Ruckus Networks to distinguish itself in several areas, just as it should be a starting point for every other network party. After all, in recent years, the network market has had to deal with suppliers who fell or went together.

Ruckus Networks is in a position where it regularly changes ownership. In less than three years it had become somehow related to Brocade, Broadcom, Arris and most recently CommScope. Although these changes seem a bit messy to the outside world, Ruckus Networks has managed to stay calm internally as much as possible and has continued to look for ways to distinguish itself.

Support for enterprise protocols

The IoT Suite is one of the products that the company puts on the market as distinctive. This is to support the growing number of devices. With all these new devices, however, new protocols and standards are added. Of course, IoT devices will use well-known standards such as wifi and Bluetooth, but Zigbee and Z-Wave are also part of the IoT protocols.

With the IoT Suite, Ruckus Networks has a central platform that makes it possible to use the various wireless protocols within the same hardware infrastructure. The company focused on which protocols should be supported for enterprise scenarios and decided to go for Zigbee and Bluetooth. Both have very specific user applications in themselves, but communication between them is not possible. The purpose of the IoT Suite is to guide this specific traffic through the existing network.

The choice for Zigbee is logical, as this standard is mainly used in industrial applications. When asked why Z-Wave is missing, which despite its smart-home character really comes into its own in smart offices, Beach argues that there are plans to expand the support of the IoT Suite further. However, he did not go into much more detail.

Strong in the hotel sector

By means of an example, Beach also makes it clear why the two protocols mentioned above were chosen. There is a cooperation with Assa Abloy, a worldwide supplier of door locks for hotels. The IoT ensures that this supplier’s door locks are also connected to the Internet. For example, as a guest, you can use your mobile to unlock the door, or as an IT administrator, you can reset the door lock. This, of course, offers some extra advantages such as being able to extend the check-out time as a guest without the need for a trip to the reception desk.

Ruckus Networks, therefore, helped Assa Abloy to make the locks smart. However, when several smart door locks are rolled out in hotels, in theory, several Zigbee gateways should also be rolled out. Beach indicates that the cooperation makes such gateways superfluous because Ruckus Networks uses its access points directly as a Zigbee gateway. In addition, Bluetooth can also be used for the locks.

According to Beach, coverage is not a problem in this situation, despite the fact that Zigbee sometimes experiences this as problematic. Beach says that the range of the standard in some cases even goes beyond wifi. What helps Ruckus Networks in this is that it has targeted solutions for different industries. Many of these products are therefore tailored to the hotel sector since Ruckus Networks has many customers there. In this sector, access points are often hung up in every room, so that the loss of reach is less of an issue.

Steps to relieve the burden

Eventually, Ruckus Networks wants to have as many access points as possible connected to the IoT platform. That is why the company has chosen to equip its newer access points as standard with the necessary IoT technology, which is built into the radio. However, many customers will not plan to replace all their access points. For such companies, Ruckus Networks offers a special adapter so that these devices can also support the aforementioned protocols. The user only has to plug this adapter into the USB port of his access point. Of course, plugging in such an adapter does not deserve a beauty prize, but it is certainly simpler and cheaper than setting up an IoT network as a company itself.

The IoT Suite is, therefore, a portfolio with several components to take away as many worries as possible about the IoT. One of the things that also forms part of this is the so-called IoT controller. In short, it means that networks with associated IoT endpoints can be managed, coordinated and connected to IoT cloud services. From this panel, all kinds of things can be arranged around the IoT, such as configuring ‘if-this-then-that’ rules. The controller is quite versatile, and the most important thing is to read and manage third-party products and services.

Continue innovating to differentiate

For Ruckus Networks, it is important to keep the IoT Suite distinctive. Other network parties are also looking at setting up an IoT portfolio and have also seen how Ruckus Networks has been working on its IoT Suite for almost a year now. The company introduced it a year ago at the Mobile World Congress and has been updating it ever since, for example by adding extra functionality to the IoT Controller. The company thought their portfolio was good enough for an actual launch in mid-2018, which it did.

As mentioned before, there is a lot of competition in the network market, which means that regular updates will continue for the IoT Suite. In addition, they are also looking at differentiating in other areas. This includes, for example, the 3.5 GHz band in the United States, also known as CBRS, for which the FCC authority previously granted permission. Ruckus Networks has tailored access points for this.

It remains interesting to see that a company like Ruckus Networks is working hard to bring innovative solutions to the market. That way, it will be able to maintain its position. Hotel chains, to stick to a target group, will certainly benefit from the IoT Suite. Just like certain other sectors will do. We are curious about how this will continue to develop.