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?
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.