About Ruckus (Unleashed and other) Licensing and Support

Hi @LTS_Tom,
As someone who is deep into Ruckus (just like last week I talked about being deep into Mikrotik) I’d like to clear up some confusion about the Ruckus Licensing and Support.

First, an explanation of the different controller options:

  • Unleashed - Simpler offering intended for small businesses. Has no License costs. The controller is run on the APs, with one Active and one or more Standby that are synced for all changes. The code base is built from ZoneDirector, but they are adding in the ability to manage ICX7150 switches. Nearly everything you can do in ZoneDirector you can do in Unleashed, except that some things don’t have a UI exposed (but this is true of ZoneDirector too! The documentation tells you to use SSH for some settings changes)
  • ZoneDirector - The Traditional offering. It is not getting any feature development, but they are continuing to add support for new APs. Will never support managing ICX switches. Ruckus is offering this for networks that are too small to need a SmartZone, but still want a local controller appliance.
  • SmartZone - The modern offering. It is built in parts that can be scaled up as needed. It is available as appliances, or virtual machines. SZ can handle tens of thousands of APs if built properly. Can manage any ICX switch models (not just ICX7150). There is a lot of extra complexity available, like “vSZ Data Plane” which does… something related to tunneling data? I’ve never worked with a company that needed whatever this does.
  • Cloud - A fully managed offering, meant to compete with Meraki, except that they don’t have any firewall device.

This is what License and Support mean for Ruckus:

  • License: the right to use the device (a controller without sufficient AP licenses won’t allow more APs to connect), and to get updates
    • For ZoneDirector and SmartZone you need licenses for both the controller appliance, and for the number of APs on the controller.
    • For Unleashed there is no licensing for the “controller” nor based on the number of APs, but there is a “URL Filtering” feature which requires a license (because its a managed and updated website categorization database).
  • Support: The right to call Tech Support after a grace period, and indefinite extension of the warranty
    • For ZoneDirector and SmartZone you can buy support for both the controller and the APs. Things get weird if you have mixed support, like if you have support for the controller and not the APs and you call about an issue that is considered more on the AP firmware side versus the controller side.
    • For Unleashed, you buy a single Support contract for the whole network, it is not per-AP. For ZoneDirector and SmartZone
    • Without a support contract, you normally get 1 year warranty and I believe 30 days of tech support
    • You are also free to post on their forums, and get “community support”, and the employees do sometimes come by and respond to posts. Sound like any other company everyone here loves?

For Ruckus Cloud the model is just like Meraki - you pay a subscription per device that covers both License and Support.

There is another product called “Unleashed Multi-Site Manager” which is for MSPs. It offers control and monitoring of Unleashed and ZoneDirector controllers in a central location. I believe this is a licensed offering - e.g. you have to pay based on the number of controllers you want to manage.

I am using Ruckus Unleashed for my house. I have not paid Ruckus anything past the hardware purchase (which was all used from eBay). I have not had any issue downloading updates for the APs nor the ICX7150 switches. All features except the URL Filtering are enabled. You can load the Unleashed firmware on any other AP to use it with Unleashed, there is no hardware locks between them. Ruckus explicitly states that you can take APs which were sold with the Unleashed firmware, and take them to one of their other offerings.

TL;DR: What was said in the message you read out, that Support was needed for updates, is wrong. Support is needed if you’re the first person to encounter some specific issue, or if you encounter it before an update is made public. If they have a beta update that addresses an issue you have, Tech Support can provide it to you early.