ZD3000 and R700 limits at a large public event

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I am planning to supply WiFi for a large public event, about 10000 people present. I estimate that at least half will connect and use the WiFi service, this event will be hosted in a remote area and I only expect small amounts of interference, also the traffic levels will be small ( facebook, simple browsing )

I do have one ZD3000 with 25 Ap license and ten R700 access points, I am not sure about the client limit on the ZD3000 because I noticed that there is a 5000 clients limit but didn't understand where this limit applies. This limitation applies only to authenticated clients or the total number of clients regardless if they are connected to a open network ( no security or captive portal at all ) or using some kind of encryption or authentication ?

At this event I will host two WLAN's: one encrypted with WPA2 ( no user database, only a simple password ) that will host about 100 clients and one open network that will host the public with no encryption or password ( planning to use Vlan pooling in order to break the broadcast domains into smaller chunks ).

Because at this moment I only have 10 x R700 I am planning to get ten more in order to support the clients. I never tested one R700 at full capacity, is this AP capable of the 500 clients stated in the data sheet ? Will the performance degrade very much ?

Thanks !
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Mihail Tudoran

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Posted 5 years ago

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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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I don't know your exact area you need to cover but I would suggest you don't use the R700. For HD you need to use directional antennas or APs that have directional antennas integrated like 7782-n, t301n or use the 7372-e with an external antenna.
The only time I'd use apps with omni antennas if you mean to place them under the seats but from what you wrote I'd say there won't be seats there.

And the 500 users per AP is a dream. Shoot for something up to 130 per AP spread through both bands.
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DSE

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I totally agree with Primoz, i had similar events and the first time i used only omni and was a disaster, then i started to use 7782-n and 7782-s and it's perfect. About the number of users.. yes i agree about that numbers for stable use. 
(Edited)
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Mihail Tudoran

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We install WiFi systems on demand for a limited number of hours or days, that's why we preferred the R700 and it's omni antenna, we never know the venue we are going to install so we need to adapt on the spot, using omni antennas do the job.

Maybe we need to buy ten more directional antenna units, combining both based on the venue and possible installation space, this should be a good idea.

Also really curious about the ZD3000 user limitation, I didn't find something clear enough about the 5000 clients limit.

How did Ruckus measure the 500 supported clients for the R700 ? Under what circumstances in order to make this statement ?

Thanks !
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John D, AlphaDog

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I recall the 500 client number was with open authentication (256 clients per radio), and WPA2 takes it down to something more around 128 simultaneous clients per radio.
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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One thing is how many stations can associate, and another how many can you have on an AP actually tranmitting data before either you run out of air-time or the AP says enough. With Ruckus APs you usually you run out of AT first. That's one of the reasons you need directional antennas, so that you don't create a cell where 1000 users will like to associate with it and demand their AT.

Maybe check out these antennas. http://www.wireless-instruments.com/en/produkty/21/dual-band-antennas.html

This conversation actually reminds me that I need to start a new one my self.
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Mihail Tudoran

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The ZD3000 state that it can balance clients across APs to spread the load, using this should avoid creating a large cell only on one AP ? I mean having multiple R700 placed relatively close and connected to the director to balance the clients.
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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Well I guess if a marketing data-sheet say it than it must work :)

But seriously, paper will take anything you write on it, reality will give you a check at the end. Personally I would never use omni APs for HD, unless I'd put them under the seats. For overhead or side placement I'd always use directional antennas.

I'm not saying it won't work either as it depends on some factors and the standard is built in a way that it really takes a geniuos to screw it up so much that nothing will work, but in my experience it's unlikely that users will be satisfied with the network although I've seen that Ruckus performs much better even with a bad design compared to the competition that has problems with great designs too.

Or, let me restate, there is surely a much better way of doing this, but even if it's not that great design Ruckus' APs will help you hide some of that.
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Mihail Tudoran

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Thanks ! I mostly use open authentication networks.

Will the ZD3000 with 25 AP license supported more than 5000 clients ?
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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Don't plan on having 500 users per AP if you want your network to work.

I keep forgetting about the user limit on ZDs, but I think it's any type of authentication that consumes one unit of that limit.
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Mihail Tudoran

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So if using no authentication at all, only open networks this limit should not apply ?
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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As I said, I keep forgetting :) and I don't know what happens if you enable AP survivability.
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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A fully licensed ZD3000 can support up to 10,000 users.

As Primoz has stated, you cannot realistically expect to service traffic for 500 users per AP.

200-300 maximum would be a better number for planning purposes, assuming all Open Auth, as WPA limits to 128.
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Mihail Tudoran

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Hi Michael,

I really didn't understand where this 5000 client limit ( for 25 AP license ) apply, it is for authenticated clients ( using WPA2 or any other type ) or for all users.

I only want to provide open SSID, no authentication, will this limit apply in this case ?

Thanks !
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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AP licenses determine how many APs your ZD can manage.  (Up to 250 APs on ZD3K)

Number of total clients depends on how many APs are employed, and what type of authentication.

Mixing some WPA2-PSK with Open Auth might allow ~ 150-200 users per AP?

That would equate to support roughly 5000 users on 25 APs.
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Mihail Tudoran

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Hi Michael,

Let's say I upgrade to 100 APs version, this means the ZD3000 will still be limited to 5000 clients ?

As I said I do not plan to use authentication.

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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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The ZD3000 supports up to 10,000 client connections (if you have enough APs).
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NorcalEDU

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Not to be a pain or restart this topic, but a ZD3000 will support 500 managed AP's. I'm just making sure it's clear in case someone comes along and reads this and gets confused.
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Monnat Systems, AlphaDog

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Yes, ZD3k is Capable of managing up to 500 ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi access points
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Mihail Tudoran

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The number of AP is very clear in the specs, as for the number of supported clients this is specified very ambiguous. On the main page of the product it is stated "Concurrent Station Up to 10,000" this is not always true, it depends on the license you have, Ruckus should clearly state those limitations ( is this a marketing glitch ? ). Also should clearly explain when this limitation apply, for authenticated clients, for open clients, for what ?

Consider the following, I have the ZD3025 that have 25 licenses and another 25 R700 access points, let's assume one R700 can support 300 clients, this means a possibility of 7500 clients. In this case the ZD3025 will limit my capacity to 5000 clients and in order to exceed this limit I should pay a useless license of AP's that I will never use ? See document here: https://support.ruckuswireless.com/answers/000001444

I think this limitation should be clarified and clearly stated on the product specs.
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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The limitation on maximum number of users is provided.  Multiply by number of licensed APs for the possibility number of users.

A maximum number of licensed APs supports the maxiumum number of users,
per ZoneDirector model.
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Mihail Tudoran

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Then you should remove the document https://support.ruckuswireless.com/answers/000001444 from the ZD3000 KB articles because it is misleading users about this limitation.
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Michael Brado, Official Rep

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Thanks for providing the link, which I confirm is accurate.

The Maximum combined total connected *users (*DPSK, guest pass, local, open) corresponds to the maximum AP licenses.

A ZD1100 with 50 APs can support 1250 users
A ZD3000 with 250 APs can support 5000 users
A ZD3000 with 500 APs can support 10000 users
A ZD5000 with 250 APs can support 5000 users
A ZD5000 with 600 APs can support 10000 users
A ZD5000 with 800 APs can support 15000 users
A ZD5000 with 1000 APs can support 20000 users

However, as stated above, these are supported maximum open auth/no encryption user connections.
But you should not plan large event wireless support at the maximum number of clients per AP.
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Mihail Tudoran

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So there is a limitation here.

For me I can't understand what is the point and the marketing strategy to enforce such a thing. If a user has 50 AP that each can support 150 users it will end up being limited by the ZD license user limit and Ruckus will force the user to buy a 250+ AP license that is useless to the customer and may even force it to other vendors that look more expensive at the first look but they aren't when you analyze all the facts.
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Eizens Putnins

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It is very interesting question, I have not yet ever was able to hit the limit of users on ZD3000 system practically and it is quit difficult to check practically -- normally number of users even on big public events  is less than you would expect - for 10 000 visitors event you rarely have more than 1000-2000 users simultaneously in fact.  
Actually, I am not yet convinced by Michael  answer (I have heard same statements before also)  that this limit applies to all connected users.
This are my suggestions why I am not sure if it is that simple:

1. For me it looks more realistic that it is applied only to any kind of authenticated user, and, possibly to statistic subsystem, as users on open SSIDs (without encryption and authentication) are associated by AP without ZD intervention.
2. I suppose that there is a size limitation for user database on ZD, as well as some limits in databases used to maintain statistic data (such as a table of current users), but for ZD to count all active users and to force limit even on open SSIDs -- it would be a bit troublesome task to implement, and it provides no benefits (there is no additional license you can buy to add more users over 10000 limit anyway), so I don't see why Ruckus developers would waist time doing so.
3. It is also not clear, why this limit is needed at all? It is not performance thing, as ZD1200 has about 20x more performance than ZD1100, but it's stated limit is almost same. So, again, for me it looks that this limit is actually the size of user database in a software - but what if we use external RADIUS for authentication or no authentication as all?
4. There are some success stories about very high density cases published by Ruckus on big stadiums, on older of them ZD3000 have been used, and I think if this limitation would really exist, they would not work. So probably it doesn't apply to unauthenticated users, at least not enforced (it is possible, that statistics will not display user info properly in such cases).

Anyway,  all my suggestions about how it probably works are just speculations  -- It would be really nice to get this question  clarified once and for all by Ruckus developer team member -- who really knows firsthand how it is designed and how it works in reality. Can you get such answer for us from Ruckus developer team, Michael?

Also,  it would be interesting to know if there is any such limitation for vSCG? With 10000 AP limit per node, number of users supported must be really huge, but SCG processing power per AP is much lower...

Of cause, in most cases this limit is irrelevant anyway -- you can hit this limit realistically only in very special projects, and it definitely doesn't apply to any office environment.

  About providing Wi-Fi for events on temporary base, I completely agree with Primoz -- whenever you want to get high density, you want to use only directional models (ZF7762-S, ZF7782-S/N, T301S/N), and they work really great. You can easy accommodate 150-200 users on one AP, as far as you have correct design and tune configuration to disable slow connections and 802.11b devices.
If you are OK with R700, it means that you don't have really high density and than you don't need to care about user limit.
R700 is ok when you have big conference room with 1000 people but only 200 active Wi-Fi devices (actually 1x R700 can handle it reasonably).  If you have 1000 mobile devices, you will be not very good with just 5x R700 (even so they will work much better than 5x APs from any competitor because of Beamflex+) -- but with 5x T301 you'll  get much better total bandwidth and capacity.
If you have no idea about next venue, you probably want to use T301S mainly (30x120 degree diagram) and couple of T301N (30x30 degree). This makes very easy to cover any venue  and you are much less constrained by AP location requirements. Or you can go with T301N only, which will provide the best possible performance, but than you'll need more of them to cover same area.
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Mihail Tudoran

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Yes Eizens, that's exactly what we do, provide Wi-Fi for temporary periods and various events.

We now have 10 x R700 and one ZD3025 and we consider buying 5 more R301S, would mixing both models ( not close to each other ) provide a stable working environment ? Our events and mainly in large open-space buildings. If mixing R700 and R301S is to be consider what would be the best practice in placing them across the venue ? Will we encounter client roaming issues ?

Thanks !!!

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Mihail Tudoran

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Opened a new topic for this ( too much offtopic here )
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Mihail Tudoran

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Should we buy 5 more of the new R710 Wave2 instead of going with the T301?
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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You have to understand that it's not about which APs you buy it's about channel reuse. That means proper cell sizing.

Forget about what marketing is saying. All they are interested in is getting the quarter into the right numbers so the stock goes up.
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Mark, Employee

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It's all about using the right tool for the right job. the R710 will support 2X the users the R700 will however you have to decide where you need to use an omni antenna pattern and where a directional pattern like the -S or -N will work better. typically for stadium venue's up to 12k seats mounting -N ap's above will work well. in larger venue's you can also do an underseat approach with omni's. meeting rooms and exhibition area's are typically omnis due to the fact that you can't get the AP's far enough away from the clients to use the narrow pattern of a -N or -S. in those area's try to mount the aps low so people attenuate signal, or use obstructions like beams to block signal so you can add more AP's to handle the desired density.
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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So there was a problem with my earlier reply that I would like to clarify.

Fact is that marketing ant technical usually see things from different perspectives which is understandable since their jobs are different. Technical needs too make things work and marketing needs to present the company in the most positive frame. Nothing is wrong as far as marketing is concerned and that can lead to false representation of actual facts.

Usually that means the difference between fact and fiction which in this case is the 500 users count per AP. Sure an app can have 500, ney 512, but the real question is do you want this. Personally I'd say no. In fact I'd say that's a recipe for failure. I know this because I've been down this road before and I don't want others to follow.

My reply was not directed at Ruckus directly or anyone person there, As every vendor it's doing exactly the same thing and hiring them selves in the process.

Anyone from Ruckus that has met me knows I'm one of your biggest fans and you make by far the best APs, but a bad design is a bad design and deploying apps in an environment like that will not produce a satisfactory result.

Now you can delete any of my replies, fine. Just know that every reply is meant with the intent of helping Ruckus as much as helping the user asking it.
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Mark, Employee

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There are limits to what a controller will support as well as a radio itself. there is a 128 user limit when authentication is used ( chip limitation ) there is a limit put on the ZD based on what it's memory and processor will support. Additionally, in any larger public event the general rule of thumb is 20-30% of the users will be on the wifi at any time.
 Directional antennas such as the -S or -N will allow you to put more AP's in a given space while keeping co-channel interference to a minimum. You can also do other things like using the people and building structure to attenuate the signal and again be able to add more AP's. a few other tricks to support large venue's are setting the controller to OFDM only, turn off some of the 2.4 ghz radios,  limiting your 5ghz radio to 20mhz channels so you can have more non overlapping channels, turn on load balancing and steer clients to 5ghz.
hope this helps....
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Mark, Employee

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There are limits to what a controller will support as well as a radio itself. there is a 128 user limit when authentication is used ( chip limitation ) there is a limit put on the ZD based on what it's memory and processor will support. Additionally, in any larger public event the general rule of thumb is 20-30% of the users will be on the wifi at any time.
 Directional antennas such as the -S or -N will allow you to put more AP's in a given space while keeping co-channel interference to a minimum. You can also do other things like using the people and building structure to attenuate the signal and again be able to add more AP's. a few other tricks to support large venue's are setting the controller to OFDM only, turn off some of the 2.4 ghz radios,  limiting your 5ghz radio to 20mhz channels so you can have more non overlapping channels, turn on load balancing and steer clients to 5ghz.
The R700 has the fastest processor and will support the most users with 9.8.2.0.24 or newer code until the R710 ships.
hope this helps....
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Primož Marinšek, AlphaDog

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Hey now. Why did you delete my post? Undo it please.
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Eizens Putnins

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I would say that datasheet may be very precise, and still even correct numbers are often misinterpreted. Customers are tended to remember biggest number outside of context, and expect miracles, which not happen. 
So such customers are tended to expect that all 500 users will perform on theoretical max rate on any distance, which of cause never happens. No technical person would expect it, of cause.

280 km/hour on your new car speedometer doesn't mean that you will be driving with such speed all the time, even so number is correct, and properly represents that you have a really fast car, much faster than one with speedometer limit 160 km/hour.
 
Support for 500 associations is actually very useful in such environments as public events, hotels, malls and so on, as a big part of the clients are smartphones in the pocket of people passing by, not creating big traffic (if any at all). With many vendors (including 2 of 3 other WLAN grands) in this situation association tables are filling fast and real clients may not have access to the network.

Anyway, this number properly represents that Ruckus handles such situations better than most other vendors, which is a real fact.
(Edited)