The second presentation of day 2 of Network Field Day was from Ruckus wireless. Yes, a wireless company at a non-wireless Field Day event. I had known for a while that Ruckus wanted to present at Network Field Day and I was excited to see what they would bring. My previous experience with Ruckus was very enlightening. I wanted to see how they would do outside the comfort zone of a wireless event. Add in the fact that most networks are now becoming converged from the perspective of offering both wired and wireless access and you can see the appeal of being the only wireless company on the slate.
We started off with a talk from GT Hill (@GTHill). GT is one of those guys that started out very technical before jumping into the dark side of marketing. I think his presentation should be required viewing for those that think they may want to talk to any Tech Field Day group. GT had a lot of energy that he poured into his talk. I especially loved how he took a few minutes at the beginning to ask the delegates about their familiarity with wireless. That’s not something you typically see from a vertical-focused field day like NFD, but it does get back to the cross discipline aspect that makes the greater Tech Field Day events so great. Once GT had an idea of what we all knew he kept each and every one of the delegates engaged as he discussed why wireless was so hard to do compared to the “simplicity” of wired networking. Being a fan of explaining technical subjects with easy-to-understand examples, I loved GT using archery as a way to explain the relative difficulty of 802.11 broadcasts in 802.11n and 802.11ac.
The second part of the discussion from Sandip Patel about 802.11ac was great. I didn’t get a chance to hear the presentations from the other wireless vendors at Wireless Field Day 3 & 4. Picking up all the new information regarding things like channel bandwidth and multi-user spatial streams was very nice for me. There’s a lot of new technology being poured into 802.11ac right now. There’s also a lot that’s being prepped for the future as well. While I knew that 160 MHz channels were going to be necessary to get the full bandwidth rates out of 802.11ac, I was unaware that you could have two 80 MHz channels simultaneously working together to provide that. You learn something awesome at every Field Day event. I think 802.11ac is going to push a lot of lesser vendors out of the market before all is said and done. The huge leap forward for throughput comes with a great cost insofar as making sure that your wireless radios work correctly while at the same time accommodating noise and interference. Companies like Cisco and Aruba are going to come out okay just by virtue of being so large. Aerohive should come out fine as well. I think Ruckus has taken a unique approach with their antenna technology. That shows in these presentations, as Ruckus will be the first to tell you that their superior transmitting technology means that the signal will be cleaner between client and AP. I want to see a real 802.11ac from every wireless company put together in a room with various noise producers to see what happens. Maybe something for Wireless Field Day 5?
After we shut off the cameras, we got to take tour of the Ruckus testing facilities. Since Ruckus had moved buildings since Wireless Field Day 2 it was a brand new room. There was a lot more room than the previous testing area that we’d seen before. They still had a lot of the same strange containers and rooms designed to subject access point radios to the strangest RF environments imaginable. In the new building, there was just a lot more elbow room to walk around along with more tables to spread out and get down to the nuts and bolts of testing.
While the Ruckus presentation was geared more toward people who weren’t that familiar with the wireless space, I loved it nonetheless. GT Hill related to a group of non-wireless people in the best way I could imagine. Sandip brought a lot of info about 802.11ac to the table now that the vendors are starting to ramp up towards putting out enterprise APs. Ruckus wanted to show everyone that wireless is an important part of the conversation when it comes to the larger networking story. While we spend a lot of time at NFD talking about SDN or data centers or other lofty things, it’s important to remember that our tweets and discussion and even our video coverage is coming over a wireless network of some kind. Going to a vendor without some form of wireless access is a demerit in their case. I’ve always made a point of paying attention once I see that something is everywhere I go. Thankfully, Ruckus made the right kind of noise to make the delegates sit up and pay attention.
Tech Field Day Disclaimer
Ruckus was a sponsor of Network Field Day 5. As such, they were responsible for covering a portion of my travel and lodging expenses while attending Network Field Day 5. In addition, Ruckus provided me with lunch at their offices. They also provided a custom nameplate and a gift package containing a wireless access point and controller. At no time did they ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the writing of this review. The opinions and analysis provided within are my own and any errors or omissions are mine and mine alone.
Additional Network Field Day 5 Coverage