Standalone Features

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  • Updated 3 years ago
Been working with Aruba gear for a number of SMBs, but I’m considering going down the Ruckus route for my (fairly large) home in order to do a simple evaluation of the product and, possibly, start deploying it for SMBs as well. With that said, I know the limitations of using these in a standalone configuration are many (I can’t justify the cost of a controller for home use), but does anyone have a list of features that are supported in a standalone configuration? For example, I assume band steering can only be done by a controller, but can a standalone AP do adaptive beam forming/BeamFlex?

Thank you.
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Daniel M

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Posted 3 years ago

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Monnat Systems, AlphaDog

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Hi Dan,

Bandsteering is available on standalone too - take a look at thread

https://forums.ruckuswireless.com/ruc...
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Daniel M

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Great to hear band-balancing is available in a standalone configuration. I guess this further forces the question—what features are supported in a standalone configuration?
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John D, AlphaDog

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I've been trying out standalone pretty extensively because, like you, I was mainly looking for using this in a home office setting. Lately Comcast bumped my consumer internet to 100mbit, and my work mornings usually consist of waiting for a few machines to torrent a 9GB image. My consumer wifi setup was becoming my biggest bottleneck by almost a factor of 2.

To answer your question, Beamflex+ and PD-MRC and Channelfly and all the RF features are handled without a controller. So it should be more than sufficient for home stuff. With that said, I eventually did get a controller with my deployment. The major things (as a home office user) the controller added included:

- 802.11k/r fast transition support for mobile clients. Even roaming from 2.4 to 5 and vice-versa on the same AP, there's a noticeable improvement in client roaming speed and behavior when the system supports 802.11k/r. Doubly so if you decide to do multiple AP's.
- Way more streamlined configuration — the process of creating a WLAN with sensible default options is way faster on a ZD compared to manually setting it up on a standalone AP. On a standalone AP you first have to create the 2.4 and 5GHZ WLANs separately, and then there's a few settings that are better applied on the command line (for example, 802.11d country code beaconing for Apple devices)
- Centralized monitoring: The ZoneDirector gives you a much better interface for tracking airtime usage and client throughput and client association history compared to polling the syslog or SSH on a standalone AP. If your SMB is more than yourself, and you expect to get users calling in with wifi connectivity problems, a controller is worth it.

So my recommendation is, if you plan on deploying more than 1 AP, I strongly recommend you to reconsider a controller. Even if you only deploy 1 AP, there's some niceties of having a controller. The ZD1106 seems to be meant to hit a price point that's appealing to the small/home office that really needs good wifi.
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Daniel M

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Thanks for the reply John. What else have you noticed that required the CLI/was missing from the web UI when running a standalone configuration?
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John D, AlphaDog

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The ZoneDirector always blacklists a small list of channels (including 20MHz ones 140 and 165). The standalone config does not. I'm not quite sure why 140 is blacklisted, but I understand 165 is due to 802.11ac rate control issues. So if you run a 802.11ac Ruckus, you'll have to blacklist 165. I also blacklist channels 36-48 because they have the lower UNII-1 regulatory powers which translates to lower range. Doesn't matter if you have a bunch of AP's, but if you just have one, 5GHz range is noticeably better on channels 52 and above. This is configurable via the ZD WebUI but is a CLI only feature on the standalone AP's.

I personally had trouble with Bonjour connectivity on a standalone R700 that was magically resolved by adding a ZoneDirector, but I haven't really had a chance to dig into why that was the case. YMMV on that though, don't let my one-off observation scare you in that regard. Ruckus support was very helpful and responsive to my issue.

Other than that, no config tuning was necessary for me.

As far as monitoring, the standalone WebUI is fairly limited in the info that it shows. You can drill into each WLAN and look at the list of connected clients, and then drill in further to find their signal strengths. You can look in the syslog (get syslog log) and see association and roaming info in ath9k/hostapd jargon. I used to do a lot of DD-WRT hacking and the early days of ath9k on Linux, so this is not a huge issue for me. But the ZoneDirector presents a list of all connected clients, signal strengths, their roaming history, etc etc etc in a much more coherent UI for monitoring. It also graphs bandwidth / capacity / throughput over time (10 min / 1 hr / 1 day) on both a per-AP and a per-client basis, which is info that isn't available on the standalone AP's unless you do something like write a script to continuously query the AP over SNMP.

Basically, if you have multiple AP's on your network, the ZD will save you a lot of time and headaches with provisioning a consistent configuration across all devices. If you have to take support calls like "for the last 5 minutes my iPhone has been dropping its wifi connection / had horrible throughput", then you really need the ZoneDirector's historical logging info.

Otherwise, a standalone AP is fine if you just need the superior RF abilities of a Ruckus without enterprise-class management/configuration ability.
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Daniel M

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Thanks for the blacklist hint—I have some mobile clients that don’t grok DFS so this will be necessary. In reviewing the CLI reference guide, it appears client isolation is also supported in a standalone configuration and I assume this will be CLI-only as well.
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John D, AlphaDog

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I'm pretty sure you're right, it's CLI-only. The web UI is kind of limited in standalone mode. Not a big deal for the technically inclined, but this isn't the AP you hand to Grandma for better wifi performance :)