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Ruckus unveils 'carrier-class' vWLAN controller

SmartCell Gateway the 'industry's first' carrier-class virtualised wireless LAN controller, vendor says

The vSCG is designed for use with its Smart Wi-Fi ZoneFlex access points, and runs as a virtual application
The vSCG is designed for use with its Smart Wi-Fi ZoneFlex access points, and runs as a virtual application

Ruckus Wireless has unveiled what it describes as the industry's first carrier-class virtualised wireless LAN (WLAN) controller, the SmartCell Gateway (vSCG).

The network functions virtualisation (NFV) solution is designed to streamline the creation of scalable and resilient cloud-based WLAN services, Ruckus said in a statement. It is aimed at mobile network operators (MNOs), multiple system operators (MSOs), managed service providers (MSPs) and enterprises, the vendor added.

Ruckus said that the vSCG is designed for use with its Smart Wi-Fi ZoneFlex access points, and runs as a virtual application within either the Kernel-based virtual machine or VMware environments.

Ruckus added that it plans to provide a virtualised infrastructure and services manager that handles the management of its virtualised products. The manager will integrate support for OpenStack, the vendor said.

According to Sathya Atreyam, research manager at IDC, the customers that Ruckus is targeting with its vSCG are experimenting with the types of capabilities that the solution provides.

"Mobile network operators are increasingly exploring and evaluating architectures based on the principles of cloud computing and network function virtualization," he said.

"Carrier-class wireless LAN and the associated managed services model is experiencing a transformational shift from being viewed as vertically integrated hardware and software bundled architectures to solutions that offer the flexibility of a cloud-based, scalable and flexible multi-tenant deployment model."

The vSCG can support "smart" wireless services, provide data plane flexibility, and carrier-class features like Hotspot 2.0 and multi-tenant support, Ruckus said. The WLAN control plane traffic is handled within the vSCG virtual appliance layer, while the WLAN data plane traffic can be forwarded via either centralised or distributed paths.

The solution has already been implemented by Frontiir, which provides managed ICT services in SouthEast Asia. The company's CTO said that he was not aware of any solution that provided the same scalability and flexibility as the vSCG.

Meanwhile, Global Gossip, an MSP headquartered in Sydney, Australia, that operates Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi networks around the world, has also implemented the vSCG. Its director and founder, Sam Beskur, said that the company is keen on using virtualised WLAN management tools like vSCG to streamline its Wi-Fi business.

"With the Ruckus virtual SCG, we can now quickly spin up additional instances of the platform as demand dictates without having rack and stack discrete WLAN controllers," he said.

"This radically reduces our time-to-market, giving us a distinct competitive advantage. As more and more of our operations are moving into the cloud, we see the virtual SCG as a critical component to attacking new markets, streamlining our operational management services and opening new revenue streams previously out of reach due to the cost and complexity of conventional enterprise-class wireless LAN management technology."

The Ruckus vSCG will be commercially available from June 2014, based on a perpetual software licence fee of $995 for each instance deployed.