Ruckus recently announced the release of a device that caters to the needs of the SMB market both in the indoor and outdoor environments.
Ruckus, a primary producer of high bandwidth services and devices, recently introduced a new series that addresses the connectivity needs for SMBs. Ruckus Wireless is widely known for its ZoneFlex products which provide reliable wireless connectivity to both indoor and outdoor areas. However, recently it introduced Xclaim which provides enterprise grade wireless for small and medium sized businesses.
Under typical circumstances, most wireless providers either offer complex products and infrastructures for big businesses that require a sizeable IT staff. Or, they go to other extremes and make simplified systems for SMBs that provide connectivity but lack the features necessary to help you stay connected to your customers. Instead, Xclaim represents a solution that is in between a complex system and an inferior system that is lacking in features.
Xclaim wireless provides an easy to install wireless system that is equipped with enterprise grade features but does not require an army of IT professionals to maintain it. It is a simple approach to wireless connectivity without the exorbitant costs and complexities associated with large enterprise systems.
Xclaim delivers a new level of Wi-Fi which includes a set of indoor and outdoor wireless access points that are priced for SMBs. The portfolio consists of two dual-band 802.11n indoor access points one of which is 2 x 2 selectable and another that is 2×2 concurrent.
The selectable dual band access point is capable of speeds of up to 300 Mbps with the concurrent access point capable of 600 Mbps. These two products are known as the Xclaim Xi-1 and the Xclaim Xi-2.
The Xclaim Xi-3 provides an indoor access point that is dual band. It is capable of compatibility with the latest 802.11ac wireless standard and operates at 1.7Gbps (gigabits per second). The Xclaim Xo-1 provides an outdoor wireless access point that runs on the 802.11ac wireless standard and is 1.7 Gbps 2×2 dual-band.
All four access points are currently offered on the Xclaim wireless and are made available throughout North America, Asia, and specific parts of Europe. In terms of cost, the Xi-1 is offered at a cost of $89, Xi-2 is $149, Xi-3 is $199, and the Xo-1 is offered at $299.
The Xclaim wireless solution represents a foray into the SMB market by Ruckus Wireless, a company known for its enterprise grade wireless infrastructure solutions. Xclaim allows the company to offer enterprise grade Wi-Fi services to SMBs and home office environments. Where a conventional wireless device is typically used.
Xclaim offers the same value to SMBs and home office environments that are experiencing the same mobile needs as larger businesses. The main difference is the Xclaim solution is easy to manage, cost effective, and provides the robust tools needed to run a business and offer Wi-Fi to existing customers. This means that businesses of this size no longer have to settle for consumer grade wireless solutions that fail to meet connectivity requirements.
Ruckus Wireless has designed the Xclaim devices to be a Set It and Forget It type of configuration. The setup is driven by an intuitive wizard that provides a user friendly interface and intuitive dashboard. This means there is virtually no IT assistance required and ongoing management is simple and easy to understand.
The simplicity of manageability is emphasized with the free mobile app known as Harmony that works with iOS 7 and later or Android 4.1 or later. The free apps are readily available in the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play Store with an app being released for the iPad in the near future.
When you use the Harmony app to manage Xclaim access points, the access points range from network hubs that can be configured and managed as WLAN channels to plug-and-play technologies. You do not have to be tech savvy to use the in-app dashboard and the management tools are easy to locate and understand. The tools include network monitoring, traffic volume, access point connections, clients, and much more.
The line of Xclaim devices also include support for dual-band frequencies that include both 2.54GHz and 5GHz to ensure connectivity at the fastest speeds. There is also a band steering feature to ensure that both radio frequencies are being used properly. This helps to avoid problems with traffic prioritization and promotes bandwidth equality to avoid the automatic lower prioritization of low bandwidth tasks in a multi-user environment.
Xclaim devices also provide improved security protocols that help SMBs enjoy the same security levels as larger organizations. For example, a small business would be able to offer free Wi-Fi to customers that patronize the business while ensuring information from individual users stays secure.
Network Monitoring, Scanning and Updates
Xclaim wireless access points are equipped with dynamic channel selection that performs automatic monitoring and scanning for multiple channels. This helps you to stay on top of traffic activities and other factors that can affect the performance of the wireless connection.
Xclaim devices are also designed to automatically perform updates to software to ensure optimal performance as well. These two features are typically not included in consumer grade devices which have no monitoring or scanning capabilities and often run on the same version of the software for years. The end result can be performance problems and security issues, in addition to other concerns.
In terms of channels, you will find the Xclaim devices have more capability than consumer grade wireless devices that typically run on only two channels. Despite their compact size, Xclaim devices are capable of offering up to eight different channels for each device with a dual radio that offers four Wireless Local Area Networks for each radio.
When it comes to tech support, SMBs that use Xclaim wireless devices do not receive the same comprehensive support as those that use the enterprise level Ruckus devices. However, there is an extensive online community that allows you to get technical questions answered by Ruckus staff. It is also important to mention if you plan to integrate an Xclaim wireless solution into an existing network, you will find little support in the online community in this regard.
Benefits of Using Xclaim Wireless Solutions
As an SMB, you will find that there are many different benefits to using an Xclaim wireless device, a few of which include:
Xclaim wireless access points can be mounted virtually anywhere, including on a desktop, wall, ceiling, or other location. If you have special requirements for placing the device, it is important to note that Ruckus does not include a mounting plate in its Xclaim devices.
The equipment that comes in the box is rather limited to drywall anchors, suspended ceiling hardware, and a set of screws. This will require you to purchase additional hardware depending upon where you plan to locate the access points. Other than that, the installation process is rather easy to accomplish.
Xclaim wireless access points are controller-free which means you are not required to deploy Wi-Fi controller technology to manage IP addresses, encryption negotiation, networking policies, and more. Instead, everything is readily available with a user friendly dashboard that makes it easy to monitor and manage the network.
Enterprise Grade Wireless Connectivity
Instead of settling for consumer grade devices and wireless connectivity, Xclaim access points provide you with the reliability and speed that is expected by your staff and customers, minus the hefty price tag. The technology that is included in Xclaim devices also supports modern applications that are media rich, as well as a broad range of computers and mobile devices.
This is a step up from the past when SMBs were required to purchase enterprise grade architecture that uses a controller-based system. This type of setup requires an onsite installation with controllers that are on the premises or in the cloud which is often cost prohibitive and complex for most SMBs. Until the introduction of Xclaim devices, many SMBs had to break the bank in order to bring speedy and reliable Wi-Fi to their staff and customers.
Easy Setup and Management
Setup and management for Xclaim devices can be accomplished using the free Harmony app for iOS or Android devices. Both apps are designed for use with smartphones and will run in portrait mode on tablet devices.
When you first launch the Harmony app, a wizard appears that allows you to create an SSID (Service Set Identifier) that provides a name for your Local Area Network (LAN) and an administrator login. Once you have completed this step, the software will scan for the Xclaim devices you have installed on the network.
Once the access points are identified, you can configure each one with an SSID. When you launch the app again, this will take you to the network statistics dashboard where you can view the most active access points, connected clients, number of bytes and packets transmitted, and more. The channel selection screen will help you to monitor both the radio 2.4GHz and radio 5GHz channels for any problems or bugs.
The Harmony app is designed to help you take care of local management of the network and continuous monitoring of the wireless LAN (Local Area Network) environment. There is no web interface for accessing the management dashboard, so you must have a device that supports the use of the Harmony app.
The following video offers more information on how to set up Xclaim wireless access points using the Harmony app.
Purchase and Availability
Xclaim wireless access points can be purchased on the Xclaim Wireless website with current availability across North America, as well as select countries throughout Asia and Europe. The Xclaim devices can also be purchased through other retailers such as Tiger Direct, Newegg, and Amazon, or a certified reseller of Xclaim products.
The Harmony app is free of cost and can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store or the Google Play Store, depending upon the type of mobile device you are using.
The Bottom Line
Xclaim wireless access points are very new to the wireless technology market. This means they represent an initial move toward providing SMBs with enterprise grade connectivity that is reliable and affordable. However, it does not necessarily mean you will not experience issues with installation and setup, so you should be aware of this before moving forward with an Xclaim wireless access point.
Overall, the Xi devices could use a web interface that you can access from anywhere and any device with an Internet connection. This feature coupled with a modification in the Harmony app that operates in landscape mode would make monitoring and management much more user friendly.
The major advantage of using Xclaim wireless access points is the performance. Regardless if you are using the 2.4GHz radio frequency or the 5GHz band, Xclaim access points have proven to provide superior range which results in a reliable connection. However, because the product is very new, it may be a good idea for you to hang out in some of the forums and the online community on the Xclaim website to get a feel for what you can expect before you decide to commit to a purchase.