Cisco Wi-Fi controllers (also called wireless LAN or WLAN controllers) allow realtime communication, provisioning, control, management, and troubleshooting for all Cisco wireless devices and services, including Wave 2 Aironet Wi-Fi access points. Cisco offers both hardware and software-based Wi-Fi controllers for centralized management of wireless networks, but environments with a large number of Wi-Fi access points are better served by physical Wi-Fi controller appliances. Current generation Wi-Fi controller appliances from Cisco deliver major advantages over earlier models including greater throughput, simultaneous support for both 1G and 10G interfaces, enhanced application visibility and control (AVC), and hardened, built-in security.
Progent's certified Wi-Fi consultants can help you assess the business value of deploying Cisco Wi-Fi controllers to manage wireless networks of any size. Progent can help you maintain and troubleshoot your current Cisco-based Wi-Fi solution or help you plan and implement an efficient migration from earlier generation Wi-Fi controllers to current solutions to deliver improved performance and security and to streamline management.
Cisco's wireless controllers work with Cisco's Prime Infrastructure platform, an architecture that can support up to 6,000 access points and 64,000 clients. Cisco line of Wi-Fi controllers are available at price points and with feature sets appropriate for environments ranging from small offices to service provider networks, enterprises, and large campus deployments. Cisco's 802.11ac Wave 2 controllers and access points are engineered to provide the same level of security, performance and manageability that companies expect in their wired ecosystem. Cisco's technology incorporates built-in mobility services such as Voice over IP, HD video, and secure guest access. Cisco's Prime Infrastructure architecture allows organizations to build environments that integrate wired and Wi-Fi networks into a centrally managed ecosystem that delivers a consistent and productive user experience.
Progent's Cisco-certified network infrastructure consultants can provide affordable online consulting expertise throughout the U.S. and Canada to help you create and refine Wi-Fi solutions. Progent can also provide onsite support in major metropolitan areas across the U.S. and in Toronto, Canada. In addition, Progent offers economical online and onsite Wi-Fi site surveys to assist your company to design and install a Wi-Fi network with custom-designed AP clustering optimized for your specific office layout, building structure, and application workloads.
Cisco 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi Controllers
The Cisco 3504 Wireless Controller is a value-priced appliance available in a desktop form factor and designed for small and medium-sized businesses. You can use the 3504 in a centralized network architecture such as a campus, in lean branch and remote offices managed over the WAN via Cisco FlexConnect, or in mesh (bridge) deployments where Ethernet cabling is limited. The 3504 Wi-Fi controller can handle up to 150 access points and 3,000 clients, delivers 4 Gbps throughput, and supports 4,096 VLANs. The 3504 controller includes a Cisco Multigigabit Ethernet interface (up to 5 Gigabit Ethernet) and four 1 Gigabit Ethernet connections. Access points can be connected directly to the controller via two Power Over Ethernet (PoE) ports. The 3504 Wi-Fi controller features subsecond failover for access points and clients, which allows uninterrupted availability for applications. Like other current Wave 2 Wi-Fi controllers from Cisco, the 3504 device has the built-in capability to communicate with Cisco Prime Infrastructure, Cisco Mobility Services Engine, and Cisco 5520 and 8540 WLAN controllers.
The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller, available in a 1 rack unit (RU) form factor, is designed to support midsize to large enterprises and campus environments and can be used in centralized, distributed, and mesh deployments. The 5520 Wi-Fi controller supports up to 1,500 access points and 20,000 clients, delivers 20 Gbps throughput, and supports 4,096 VLANs. The 5520 controller includes two 10 GE interfaces and features solid-state storage, redundant fans, optional redundant power supplies, and subsecond failover for high availability.
The Cisco 8540 Wireless Controller, available in a 2 rack unit (RU) form factor, is a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi controller intended to support enterprises, service providers, and large campus environments. The 8540 Wi-Fi controller can be used in centralized, distributed, and mesh deployments and supports up to 6,000 access points and 64,000 clients. The 8540 can deliver throughput as high as 40 Gbps and supports 4,096 VLANs. The 8540 controller includes four 1-GB or 10GE ports and features solid-state storage, dual redundant power supplies, redundant fans, and subsecond failover.
Earlier Generation Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers
Cisco wireless network controllers reduce the effort and expense needed to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot Wi-Fi networks by offering single-point control of critical functions like setting up APs, enforcing consistent policies throughout converged wired/wireless networks, supporting enterprise-wide Quality of Service for voice and video, monitoring and troubleshooting system health, implementing wireless intrusion prevention system (wIPS) tools to guard against unauthorized access and Denial of Service threats, and managing IPv6 clients. Cisco has designed wireless network controllers for businesses of any size and offers standalone desktop appliances, modular add-on wireless controllers for Cisco routers and switches, and switches with integrated wireless LAN controllers.
The latest versions of Cisco wireless controllers incorporate Cisco CleanAir technology to avoid signal interference and produce self-optimizing wireless LANs for maximum 802.11n and 802.11ac performance and security. Integrated Apple Bonjour Gateways enable discovery, advertisement and policy across the enterprise for Apple applications. For high availability (HA), Cisco wireless controllers support AP and client stateful failover by enabling a backup HA controller to synchronize with a main controller for AP license count, CAPWAP state and roaming keys, and AP CAPWAP state. If the primary controller fails, thousands of APs and clients can failover immediately to the secondary controller.
Cisco's Wireless Module for ISR G2 Routers with UCS-E provides basic 802.11n and 802.11ac capability for 2900 and 3900 routers used by smaller businesses and branches. This affordable and expandable module can handle up to 200 access points and up to 6000 wireless clients. (To find out concerning Progent's remote and on-premises consulting support for Cisco routers, see Cisco router configuration and management consulting.)
Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series are 1RU switches intended for SMBs and satellite offices and have a built-in wireless network controller with the ability to handle 40 Gb of wireless capacity for each switch and 25 access points and 1000 clients per switch. Cisco Catalyst 3850 Series are 1RU switches intended for mid-size and large organizations and feature an integrated wireless network controller supporting 40 Gb of wireless throughput on each switch and the ability to handle up to 50 access points and 2000 wireless clients. The Wireless Services Module2 is a plug-in blade for Catalyst 6500 Series switches with an integrated wireless LAN controller designed for mid-to-large size businesses and capable of 20 Gbps performance and with support for up to 1000 access points and up to 15,000 wireless clients. (To learn about Progent's online and onsite consulting support for Catalyst switches, refer to Cisco switches deployment and management support.)
Cisco 2500 Wireless Controllers are economical desktop devices that simplify the provisioning and management of Wi-Fi networks for small and midsize businesses and satellite offices. The Cisco 2500 Series wireless LAN controller can handle from five to 75 APs and up to 1000 clients and can deliver throughput of 1 Gbps.
The Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller is an expandable 1RU unit designed for medium-sized to large organizations and campus environments and can support 500 APs and 7,000 wireless clients while delivering 8 Gbps throughput. Cisco's 5760 Series Wireless Controller is a 1RU device designed for mid-to-large campuses with support for 1000 wireless access points and 12,000 wireless clients and offering performance of 60 Gbps to accommodate high wireless client densities and high amounts of media-rich applications.
The Cisco Flex 7500 Series Wireless Controller is intended to enable centralized management of massive collections of wireless branches from a single datacenter, avoiding the need for a wireless controller at each branch. The 1RU rackmount Flex 7500 appliance allows you to establish a private cloud to deploy, track, manage, and troubleshoot as many as 6000 access points and up to 64,000 clients while handling 1 Gbps throughput. The Cisco 8500 Series Wireless Controller is a 1RU rackmount appliance engineered to monitor and manage Wi-Fi networks for very large campuses or for service providers and can scale to handle up to 6000 wireless points and up to 64,000 clients while delivering 10 Gbps performance.
Legacy Cisco WLAN Controllers
Cisco's legacy Wireless Network Controllers centralize the management of wireless networks by streamlining the control of common functions including intrusion prevention, real-time RF management, automatic configuration, and full N+1 redundancy. These controllers operate with thin access points to offer high throughput and extensive control capabilities.
Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers (WLCs) provide the control, expandability, protection, and resilience that system managers require to build secure, enterprise-scale wireless solutions, from satellite offices to small companies to main campuses. Cisco's first-generation Wireless Network Controllers can be clustered to offer support for as many as 2,400 wireless access points for each roaming domain.
Cisco's WLCM or WLCM-E Module for Integrated Services Routers offers small-to medium businesses and large corporations an affordable way to implement and control secure WLANs at satellite locations. These products manage up to a dozen Aironet wireless access points and are installable in Cisco 2800/3800 Series Routers and 3700 Routers. (To find out about Progent's online and on-premises consulting services for Cisco routers, refer to Cisco router deployment and troubleshooting support.)
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