I'm planning on implementing 10-15 AP's in my company. I don't need much, but I want one ssid, and the possibility to roam between access points without loosing connection. The cost is a bit of issue as well. I see there's a box called the Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Express 2.13. Now this box as awfully cheap. Makes me wonder. Everytime I've been thinking about this, I aend up with the price of the 25 user 4400 WCS, at 7 times the price. Now I've been googling my fingers numb, but I can't seem to really find out what differs in a wcs and wlse solution. Can I use this cheap Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Express 2.13 box only a PoE switch and some radios? Or do I need as well a 6500 switch with a wlse controller? 'cause then; the 4400 would be cheaper.
This is a huge topic for discussion! Haha, hopefully I can help with some basic information. The two solutions you're looking at (WLSE vs WLC/WISM/WCS) are for two different wireless architectures. The WLSE is for "autonomous" access points, and the WLC/WISM/WCS are all for "lightweight" access points.
The fundamental difference between the two is that the autonomous architecture is a distributed design, while lightweights are centralized. Here's some detail:
Each access point runs everything itself. It must be individually configured for all SSIDs and VLANs. A WLSE device can be used to manage multiple APs via SNMP, but this is manual process. A WLSE can also assist in radio management, such as channel-design, but it's again a very manual process.
Access points are not individually configured. They must join a wireless LAN controller (WLC) in order to function. They can find the controller automatically, and when they do they download a configuration. They then operate with assistance from the controller. The controller takes information from all APs and dynamically adjusts the channels and radio power as needed to optimize the network. The WLC is the only device you'll need to manage since it manages all APs for you.
That's a VERY high-level view of the two designs. Long story short, autonomous solutions usually require more work to manage, and lightweights require less. You're only looking at running 10-15 access points, so a lightweight solution probably won't pay off as much as it would if you were installing 100+. That doesn't mean that you won't benefit from lightweight, but it might not be worth the added cost.
Again, very complicated subject, and I hope this gives you a better understanding that will help while googling. Try googling autonomous vs lightweight, you'll find some good articles.