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New Member

WLSE or WCS

Help!

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.

Appreciate help,

\\mark

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
Silver

Re: WLSE or WCS

Hi Mark,

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:

AUTONOMOUS

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.

LIGHTWEIGHT

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.

8 REPLIES
Silver

Re: WLSE or WCS

Hi Mark,

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:

AUTONOMOUS

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.

LIGHTWEIGHT

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.

New Member

Re: WLSE or WCS

I have a small question and i please u to give reply.

Can we assign different ip address to different access points at once with the help of WLC or WCS.But not through DHCP.It has to be done statically.That means mapping a particular ip address to a particular MAC address in a document and sending it the access points so that respective access point having MAC address will receive ip address mapped with that

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: WLSE or WCS

Hi Mark,

Just to add a note to the great tips from Jeff (+5 points for this Jeff :)

My take on this is that the WLSE and WLSE Express are not really a viable choice for new purchases.The WLSE has not been completly "End of Life" although I think its safe to say that Cisco is really promoting the change to LWAPP. They even have a migration path from the WLSE to WCS in place. There are many Autonomous AP's that can be converted to LWAPP as well. You probably want to look into one of the various versions of the WLC (Wireless Lan Contoller) Have a look;

CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE)

End-of-Life and End-of-Sale Notices

From this doc;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/sw/cscowork/ps3915/prod_eol_notices_list.html

Customers that have deployed a legacy wireless LAN or a Cisco wireless solution using Cisco Aironet® standalone (autonomous) access points, the CiscoWorks® Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE), and the Cisco Catalyst® 6500 Series Wireless LAN Services Module (WLSM) are encouraged to migrate to the Cisco Unified Wireless Network to reap numerous benefits including ease of management, scalability, advanced feature velocity, high performance, lowered total cost of ownership, and mobility services such as VoWLAN, guest access, location services, and enhanced security.

Cisco is encouraging our customers to migrate to the Cisco Unified Wireless Network. This paper reviews the advantages of and reasons for migrating to the Cisco Unified Wireless Network. Discover why now is the right time to migrate to the Cisco Unified Wireless Network.

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5679/ps6548/prod_white_paper0900aecd804f19e3_ps3915_Products_White_Paper.html

You may also want to see this note;

Note WLSE Network Management (Discovery, Inventory, Faults, Reports, Configuration and Firmware) modules support 1250 series access points that contain 802.11n radios. However, 802.11n radios are not supported in WLSE Radio Management..

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/wireless/wlse/2.15.1/release/notes/RN_2_15_1.html#wp40391

Have a look at this good Q & A from a recent "Ask the Expert" event;

Question from Andrew;

"Not strictly a deployment question but...! What's the status of the autonomous APs and the WLSE? Are they still being developed or are they pretty much due for retirement? In other words should we be moving to using LWAPs and WLCs?

Answer from Sergey @ Cisco;

"Although this question does not exactly fit into the discussion subject I know that WLAN products based on the Distributed Architecture are still being developed, although you are likely to see more new features coming in the controller based solution. Using our internally deployed WLAN as an example - we are migrating from the fully featured IOS based APs deployed about 6 years ago to the network with about twice as many LWAPP APs and wireless controllers."

This thread shows the varying opinions about the WLSE vs WLC/WCS debate;

http://forum.cisco.com/eforum/servlet/NetProf?page=netprof&forum=Wireless%20-%20Mobility&topic=Getting%20Started%20with%20Wireless&CommCmd=MB%3Fcmd%3Dpass_through%26location%3Doutline%40%5E1%40%40.1ddf6fb5/4#selected_message

Conversion of a WLSE Autonomous Deployment to a WCS Controller Deployment

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/wireless/wcs/4.1/configuration/guide/wlse_wcs.html

Hope this helps! Just my 2 cents,

Rob

New Member

Re: WLSE or WCS

Hello,

Excellent. This was just the answer I was looking for. I probably would be best of buying one 2112 controller with lwapp devices, even though it's twice the price. Found out today that a 2112 and a 2124 is available in addition to the 2106, so the choice doesn't begin with the 4400-25 anymore!;=)

Thanks for help!

\\mark

Silver

Re: WLSE or WCS

Glad we could help, Mark!

Keep in mind a couple things. The 2100 series controllers are SLIGHTLY limited in functionality compared to the 4400 series. Most notably, they lose the ability to use guest anchoring, which can be used to isolate guest traffic to a single controller. There are a couple other limitations that I can't think of off-hand, but it's worth investigating if you have a Cisco rep you can talk to.

Best of luck!

Silver

Re: WLSE or WCS

An interesting tidbit for you, Rob. I was told by Cisco that they tried to EOS the WLSE Express, but a major client (a national chain for HOME improvement...) pretty much told them they could not. The chain uses WLSE Expresses at each one of their many stores for the internal authentication server. As such, Cisco has no plans to EOS it for fear of losing this mega-client, at least as of a year ago when I heard this.

But you're right - Cisco will continue to put more time, money, and research into the centralized design than the distributed. It's clear that this is the direction they want the industry to go, and when they want the industry to go somewhere, they tend to have their way, haha.

Anyway, thanks for the rating, and I've returned the favor for all the added info you provided. :D

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: WLSE or WCS

Cheers Jeff!

I guess it's always good to have this type of power ;-)

Thanks for all of your great work here. +5 points for this excellent follow-up.

Take care,

Rob

New Member

Re: WLSE or WCS

hi mark ..it sounds as to me your ready for wireless but i need to know a few things

1.does your network involve a router...

2. how many floors will the acess points cover..

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