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Ruckus ZoneDirector Controller Upgrade Guide

Ruckus ZoneDirector 1200

One of the advantages of the Ruckus controller system (ZoneDirector 1100 – 1200 – 3000 – 5000 series) is that the controller and all of the managed access point radios can be upgraded quite simply. A single image file is downloaded from Ruckus' support website, then uploaded directly into the controller. All of the access point radios will immediately be automatically updated from the controller. One file and the whole system is done.

Always download the “Whats New” and “Release Notes” .pdfs along with the .img files. This is what all manufacturers say and it is usually ignored. In this case there is critical information in these files. Do not skip reading these files. You will see later why.

Always look for the documentation and .img files that apply to the version of controller that you are looking to upgrade. Don’t use a ZD3000 .img file to upgrade a 1200 series controller. A warning message will inform you of the error.

Quick primer on the controller naming convention. The first 1&2 digits are the controller series number, think hardware form factor. The next two numbers signify the number of licensed access point radios. IE, 1105 – 1100 series radio with 5 licensed access points. 3200 = 3000 series controller with 200 licensed access point radios. Controllers can be purchased with any number of active licenses and a simple lic file is uploaded to increase this number. This numbering scheme only applies at the time the controller is ordered, you are free to add more licensing as needed.

As always, refer first to Ruckus documentation. These guidelines are meant to give the admin an idea of the process. Ruckus support is the final arbiter of anything related to their ecosystem.

There are a few things that the admin will need to know in order to perform a successful controller upgrade.

Backup and Restore buttons

1. Backup – Run a quick backup, as usual this will save potential headache if things go south. It is extremely rare that there are any issues, but an ounce of prevention etc… In newer versions the controller will ask to run a backup as part of the upgrade. It is recommended that the backup filename is amended to include the entire version number of the system that generated the backup. IE if the backup came from a controller currently running ver. make that part of the filename. A restoration can only be done onto a system with the exact same controller version.

2. Confirm update path – confirm whether the current software can be upgraded directly to the version you want to update to. If not find the correct update path and obtain the necessary .img files. – Unless you are running every upgrade as it comes out you cannot simply run the newest update. Look in the release notes document.

3. Confirm that the upgrade will work with all of the access points that are currently managed by the controller. Each upgrade can introduce, and may remove some of the access point radios that are managed by the controller. If the documentation says that an AP is not supported by the new version, an AP of that model will no longer “connect” to the controller. These AP’s are no longer supported. Look in either the release notes or what’s new document.

4. Upload and run the upgrade. Currently there is no way to set a future time to start the upgrade. The upgrade will run after the new version file is uploaded to the controller. This will cause the controller and all AP’s to reboot. Figure about 30 minutes to upgrade a small (1 controller and 30 AP’s single subnet) system. Each device will be upgrade and reboot as needed. The entire WLAN will not be down the entire time however it cannot be predicted which order the AP’s will be upgraded.

File upload and upgrade

5. Confirm ZD upgrade and all AP’s have been successfully upgraded.Check the dashboard for controller version and Monitor > AP’s for both connectivity and software version.

Related items:

Redundancy – Up until recently (9.6ish, actual ver# not available) you needed to break the redundancy and upgrade the controllers separately then re-establish redundancy. This is no longer necessary. Log into the primary controller and upgrade normally, the upgrade process will upgrade both controllers and all AP’s without admin intervention.

Upgrading controller hardware using backup from earlier controller – A backup file can be uploaded to a different controller as long as the software versions match exactly. For example you have an 1100 controller and want to upgrade to a 1200, find a software version that exists on both hardware platforms ( . Upgrade the 1100 to this version, create a backup, take the 1100 offline, ensure the 1200 is at the exact same version (a controller can be downgraded to any version, there is no “downgrade path”) and upload the backup. Place the 1200 online with the same version on board as the 1100 when it was taken offline. Do not have both controllers online at the same time. Once the 1200 is online and all AP’s have re-connected, the 1200 can be upgraded normally.

Let me point out here that the Ruckus User Guides are very well written; this is not always true of technical documentation. These guides are the first place to look when attempting any configuration to the controller. The CLI (Command Line Interface) has its own user guide. These guides are matched to the controller software version (ZoneDirector 9.12 User Guide – Rev B – 20150603.pdf) so don’t just grab any one as features are added with each new major version update.

Look for these files on the Ruckus Support website (multiple software versions used to demonstrate what the file names might look like): – ZoneFlex 9.8.2 Release Notes (MR2) – 20141126.pdf Release Notes contain: List of supported controllers and AP’s – IMPORTANT! Official upgrade path IMPORTANT! Enhancements and resolved issues Caveats, limitations, and known issues Interoperability information

What’s New in ZF Version 10.2? What’s new contains: Highlights new features, lists features at the top and provides details at the end. All access point radios that are managed with this version. – IMPORTANT!


This is the actual image file used to upload directly into the controller. This is for a 1200 series controller a 3000 series will have a similar ver but zd3000 will be in the filename.

ZoneDirector 9.7 User Guide.pdf

This document will provide the admin with the answer to most of the questions that will come up while using the particular version of software on the controller. These user guides are very well written.

ZoneDirector 9.10 CLI Reference Guide – Rev A – 20150314.pdf Command Line Interface user guide for advanced configuration. Be very careful with these commands.


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