To cloud or not to cloud the Zone Director?

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Our ZD1100 and Aps are end of life. We are evaluating the refresh routes. The question we have is what are the pros and cons of using a virtual appliance zone director on-prem vs the cloud service?
Any input is greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Said Ben Saida

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Posted 2 months ago

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Todd

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I tried Unleashed vs. ZoneDirector.  Unleashed was fine, but I felt like I was crippled from the ZD options.  Sorry I cannot provide more info. as it's been awhile and I forget the details.  I think if I had maybe 3-5 AP's I'd look more seriously at Unleashed.  I'll also share that I moved to the zd1200 a couple years ago from an zd1100, the 1200 is much quicker and has less finicky issues.... could be code maturity but I'm guessing that newer faster hardware had lent a hand in performance and NO issues.  My ZD1200's have been up for over a year with no issues, code 9.12 & 14 AP's.
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Said Ben Saida

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Thanks for sharing
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Bway NOC

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What's a ballpark price on the "virtual appliance" ZD?  We have 4 sites with physical ZDs and at some point it would make sense to consolidate.  I imagine one advantage with something self-hosted is that you're not locked into paying a monthly fee in perpetuity...  that's why we left Meraki.
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Todd

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Thanks for the info.  I setup syslog for my ZoneDirector, so I can collect some of this info and review in after the fact.  Also if you know the AP in question there's some additional log history that can be found if under monitor you go to "AP's" and then under actions you can click on "system info" & "RF info".
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Said Ben Saida

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Guys :) I think this post was about On-prem vs cloud. Please let's not change the subject. Thank you.
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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Hi Said,

    Our ZoneDirector controllers only come as hardware appliances.  Our SmartZone
products (SZ-100, SCG200, SZ300) are hardware, and Virtual SmartZone is a VM
version that runs on ESXi, KVM, GCE, AWS platforms (so you could run your own
vSZ in a cloud (GCE/AWS).

     We took the majority of ZoneDirector functionality, and created Unleashed which
can run up to 25 APs, using one as a Master, with DHCP and Mesh capabilities.  It is
easy to setup and manage, and self healing if your Master AP goes down, as another
member AP will take over.  Unleashed is a single flat LAN small medium business 
network product.

      Our Cloud Wi-Fi offering is a WebUI login, that has SmartZone controllers managing
your APs on different location "Venues".  It has a Dashboard with icons that summarize
your venues and AP statuses.  You define Network SSIDs, and specify which Venue/APs
will broadcast and service them.  It is user friendly, and provides multiple site management
capability.

       Both Unleashed and Cloud Wi-Fi solutions are pretty good designs, that you will
probably like working with...
(Edited)
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Bway NOC

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Hi Michael - on the Virtual SmartZone product, are the additional AP licenses perpetual?
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Monnat Systems, AlphaDog

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perpetual
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Monnat Systems, AlphaDog

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said
reading your OP, i am not able to make out what are your current challenges (cost/architecture/) and what is your deployment type & ur expectations if u put some light on that, one can stich a solution based on various product line and then it would make sense for pro/cons discussion...that would really add value to your decision making process ...my 50 cents..
(Edited)
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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Hello and great conversation topic.

All three options ZoneDirector local or central-office based, Unleashed, and Cloud Wi-Fi are designed to be flexible to our customer needs per the size of your home/business and the network architecture (ie Unleashed is single LAN), versus multiple site support.  SmartZone and virtual SmartZone add even more possible deployment options.  Licensing is available for min/max number of access points.

Our 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 APs are all still in future support plans, only legacy model b/g/a/n only APs, which lack the hw/mem to support newer features/functions have been "retired".
[ Said, you have the option of using ZD1100/7372 APs on last release code for a couple more years... but updating your hw is "recommended" for future support. ]

The ZD3000/ZD1200 appliances offer great centralized wifi network management, and all the features/functions that we've been migrating to the SmartZone platform, which is our future facing OS.

The Cloud platform is a little different, where Customers don't have direct SSH/WebUI to the controllers or AP for CLI commands.  This platform has a different look/feel for monitoring/event reporting/etc.

Regarding Resiliency, ZD/SZ managed APs that lose network connectivity willl attempt to reconnect and have a Recovery mode if Mesh APs get stranded. They will continue to provide local network resources (printers, etc) on a PSK WLAN, but need AAA/RADIUS or WebAuth to go thru the controller (down if WAN not working).

The Unleashed platform is designed for Member APs to take over Master AP functions (except if used in Gateway mode, when manual replacement would be necessary).

We invite customers considering the migration from older ZD/AP platforms to contact their local VAR or Ruckus systems engineers for more specific design assistance.
(Edited)
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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Hi Edward,

   Further to your 2 site deployments, you could add licences to your ZD1200, and manage the R710/R510
APs at both sites thru two different AP groups (and possibly/probably 2 different WLAN groups on each). 
You could also convert the APs at both sites to Unleashed, and use a Management IP address, that you
setup a port forward for thru your WAN router (so you can access the Unleashed admin login from remote
locations). And you could also put Unleashed on the APs, define their serial numbers under two different site
Venues in our Cloud Wi-Fi, reboot them and viola, you have two Venues that have your APs in two sites, with
our Cloud monitoring/management look and feel.  Your AP models would meet any platform you prefer to use.

- Michael
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Edward Newman

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Michael

Thanks. Interesting information. Some questions that don't seem to be answered:

- If ZD1200 (single unit not pair) goes down, my understanding is that APs stop processing so ZD has weakness in this config that could full outage.
- If above true then why use pair of ZD1200 instead of Unleashed within a single site. Sounds like APs would self elect replacement master (and have seen this work in real envirionment). How does ZD add value.... for small deployments or is it mainly targeted at larger deployments?
- I have full connectivity between my sites so could connect to ZD1200. However from description above, suggests that that two standalone Unleashed networks works and one could manage remotely. Drawback being no centralised oversight or control.
- Not sure I see what Cloud adds in the this scenario. Sounds like it is more focused for remote management in large deployments (multi-site venies). Correct?

Looking for:
- site independence so that connectivity, power outages, etc in one location cause service outages elsewhere (issue if using single ZD in one to control across many sites)
- ideally some oversight across site configs so whether this is Cloud or some form of Unleashed multi-site management tool. Oversight here really meaning metrics, config auditing, operational control.
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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If single ZD goes down, whether local or at CO, your PSK WLANs on APs will still provide local access, including to other local VLAN,
but those WLANs with AAA/WebAuth will not be able to authenticate clients. APs don't "stop processing", just can't authenticate RADIUS
or Guest Access/WISPr method WLANs if the WAN between the site and not local ZD(s) goes down.

Two ZDs at your local or CO is good redundancy, as they operate as hot standby failover for each other, with same multi-site configuration.

If you do port-forwarding on the site routers, to an Unleashed Management IP address, then yes you could reach/manage multiple Unleashed
networks at different sites.

The Cloud Wi-Fi solution is probably best suited to even larger deployments with more sites, yes.

Each solution would continue to manage the other sites if there were local power outages.  I don't run metrics/reports like a multi-site admin
to comment more on your last statement.
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Monnat Systems, AlphaDog

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ed

since you already have ZD1200 based network and Unleashed network and if you are looking for single pane of management then as a food for thought considerUnleashed multi site manager. its a one time cost with perpetual lic for AP however recurring cost for support etc..