Delivering unfettered connectivity
Ian Whiting, who was appointed President of Ruckus Networks earlier this year speaks about the company’s focus on managed cloud WiFi and SMB segment customers. Ian has played a pivotal role in expanding Ruckus' presence and leadership in key vertical markets, including: education; hospitality; multi-dwelling units (MDU); government; large public venues; retail; and service providers (for both managed services and public Wi-Fi)
How has the Middle East as a market been a focus for Ruckus?
The Middle East has been a great market for us under EMEA. It has seen revenues tripled in the past two to three years. We have also tripled the number of people dedicated to this market.
How do you see your partners accommodating the shifts in go to market?
At the recent event in Dubai, we had over 100 partners that attended and where we talked at length about technology we offer, the roadmap and things that the channel can do to help differentiate themselves. We are very partner centric in our go to market.
How is the channel helping you address requirements from mid-market customers?
A significant topic for the channel is the move from traditional products and services to managed services. We have some specific solutions to help them build multi-tenant managed cloud WiFi solutions. That is helping us address the SMB market requirements where they would rather have managed services instead of owning their own technology infrastructure and having to manage on their own. By the way, there are still a lot of customers who would want to own their infrastructure and so the traditional business is not going away.
Having said that, the pace of technology change is too swift for companies in different verticals to contend with- they would rather just consume IT as a service to meet their requirements. The cloud and managed services is the way to go. We see that trend gain ground around the world.
In the US for instance, majority of traditional reseller partners are looking to go the managed services route. They are looking to reinvent themselves as service providers and even traditional service providers such as those providing cable infrastructure are looking to be managed service providers as they take a product and include it in a service they offer to the SMB segment.
Do you see demand for cloud managed WiFI increasing?
There are different cloud managed services and cloud managed WiFi is something relatively new which is certainly accelerating in traction. We imagine in the next couple of years, a majority of our partners will have some part of managed services in their offerings.
Wireless networking as a service is a proposition that is attractive for multi dwelling units, both residential or commercial. There are companies that specifically target to offer wireless networking as a services. there is a tremendous growth in this. Over 12 projects have been deployed only this year. there is a lot advantage not just because of the technology edge we offer but because of the cost effectiveness. You get better coverage with less infrastructure from Ruckus and that has been a real advantage we have been offering for years with our technology.
Which are the segments you cater to?
The mid-market is our major focus while our focus on the larger enterprise market is more opportunistic and we do count subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies among our clients list. The SMB segment is pretty big and when aggregated, the demand for the segment is much bigger than from the enterprise as a whole which is therefore more than enough to keep us busy.
At the lower end, coffee shops, retail outlets, gymnasiums etc, who provide guest connectivity services are among our strong customers and there are so many of them. We don't sell directly and need partners to cater to these customers including franchisee networks.
What have been your key strengths in strengthening market presence?
Stock availability through partners, pre-sales and post sales are aspects we have addressed quite well in this market which has made us strong players. We try to be price competitive but we don't lead on price points. Ruckus does not have a reputation to be low on costs because we believe in the innovation and differentiation our technology offers. We know the market here is price sensitive and there are a lot of cheaper brands battling it at real low price points - we don't do that but we are price competitive.
WiFi is critical to running a Business, offering guest services and there is a need for quality products that can deliver that. Outdoor WiFi in particular in the Middle East, where there is a lot of sand and high temperatures, is challenged and can be only addressed by quality solutions to offer good coverage. Our products are in particular designed to address requirements of such conditions which we refer to as hostile environment.
Elaborate about your IoT solution?
Ruckus IoT is an IoT hardware and software suite that is designed to integrate IoT sensors from different vendors into the network. Ruckus IoT suite consists of IoT ready access points (APs), Ruckus IoT Modules, WLAN and IOT controllers. Ruckus IoT Modules are Radio or radio-and-sensor devices that connect to a Ruckus IoT-ready AP to enable endpoint connectivity based on standards such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee and LoRa protocols. The Ruckus SmartZone Controller is a WLAN controller that provides a single management interface for both the WLAN and the IoT access network.
Taking hospitality as a good example, we can now offer integration of different IoT sensors within a Wifi network as a value proposition so they don't need to build a separate network for such IoT services sensors such as door looks or panic buttons for hotel workers, getting CCTV cameras up on the Wifi etc. so there is a true converged WiFi network for IoT and the traditional ethernet requirements. Outdoors, IoT is quickly snowballing across use cases such as smart metering, smart parking, garbage collection, meteorological sensors and all of these can be integrated into the WiFi network versus having to build a separate networks. That is an area of innovation focus over the next few years.