Wireless LAN Controller Advice

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Feb 9th, 2012
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Hi all,


I am just looking for a bit of advice around wireless deployment, in particular whether to use a controller and if so, which one. Some background on what I am trying to achieve:


  • Deploy a small corporate wifi network - Approximately between 4 and 8 access points.
  • There will be multiple different SSIDs with differing levels of security.
  • Security is high on list of priorities - it must be as secure as possible.
  • Bandwdith requirements are relatively small.
  • Though not a current requirement, I want to future proof the install so it would have the capability of running voice over wifi in the future if required as well as support 802.11n


In terms of access point choice I am thinking I would opt for something such as the 1042 to provide 11n capabilities in both 2.4 ang 5Ghz. The higher end 11n access points are unlikely to be applicable as the bandwidth requirements are relatively small as stated.


With that all in mind I am debating controller/no controller and if so which. My gut feeling is to go for a controller based solution as it feels more scalable and future proof but justifying it on such a small install may prove difficult. I believe it adds some additional security benefits over an autonomous solution however (basic WIPS?). If opting for a controller a 2500 series WLC looks as if it will meet my requirements (in terms of AP and user numbers) but I am just concerned I may be missing some features that the 5500 provides that I may need (i.e. for voice and security).


Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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Scott Fella Thu, 02/09/2012 - 08:01
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Mike,


For a small office like that I would go with a WLC2504. You can use the 1042 or the 1142. Here is a discussion between the two type.


https://supportforums.cisco.com/thread/2088551


When looking at future proofing, you also need to see when these ap will be going EOS/EOL. Not a big deal to many though. Going with a controller is your best bet. If you have active directory, you can also bring up a Microsoft radius (IAS/NPS) to authenticate users. Plus using a wlc, you can have a guest portal.


Thanks,


Scott Fella


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mike_guy29 Thu, 02/09/2012 - 08:32
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Hi Scott,


Thanks very much for that. I don't want to be purchasing anything EOL or nearing EOL no. As far as I can see neither product has been announced EOL but I am not sure how long they have both been about. Do you think one model is likely to be EOL soon?


The only real addition the 1142 would seem to add is an additional receive antenna for MIMO (I believe it's receive not transmit?) is this correct?


I presume both controllers would allow the support of voice of WLAN (would autonomous as well)?

Scott Fella Thu, 02/09/2012 - 08:40
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Don't know about when they might go EOS/EOL.... Cisco have been pushing the 3500's and soon the 3600's. There really isn't a good reason to go with autonomous AP's at all. Go with a WLC... It will provide a single centralized management and is really where everything is going. I only touch autonomous ap in my lab, never in production anymore. Voice will be improved along with data when using a WLC.



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Leo Laohoo Thu, 02/09/2012 - 16:22
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There will be multiple different SSIDs with differing levels of security.

How many?



Bandwdith requirements are relatively small.

Once users will know you have a decent Wi-Fi, you'll find the need to increase bandwidth.  With a WLC, you can specify what bandwidth you want to allocate on a per-SSID basis using QoS.


With 4 to 8 WAPs, I'd recommend you disable 802.11b data rates.  Before installation, get a wireless site survey done.

How are you planning to install the WAPs?

mike_guy29 Fri, 02/10/2012 - 00:57
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There will be multiple different SSIDs with differing levels of security.

How many?


Approx 3-4 to start with.




Bandwdith requirements are relatively small.

Once users will know you have a decent Wi-Fi, you'll find the need to increase bandwidth.  With a WLC, you can specify what bandwidth you want to allocate on a per-SSID basis using QoS.


This is what I am anticipating and the reason I am looking to put 802.11n in. By this I was eluding that I would require the higher end 11n products. 802.11b will definitely be disabled as well.


It sounds as if the 2500 series controller will suffice and for access point its a toss up between 1042 and 1142. I am leaning towards the 1042. As far as I can see its only the additional antenna for MIMO that is the real difference and given the open plan and relatively small environment these will be installed in, it is unlikely to have a huge benefit.


Thanks all for your assistance.

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