Business wireless access can be better managed by a Cisco Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) and associated access points (AP’s).
An entry-level controller, the 2504, is available for a reasonable price. Pair with the 3502i or 2602i access points for basic indoors 802.11n access (also supports a/b/g). For companies with larger budgets, the new Catalyst 3850 switch series provides a high-bandwidth PoE+ switch option with built-in WLC software (IP Base or bettersoftware required).
Comprehensive documentation is available at:
- WLC Configuration Guides (cisco.com) Updated for 7.4 software – link aggregation (LAG) has been added for 2504 WLC
- 7.4 Link Aggregation (LAG) Doc (It’s all or nothing, you can’t have multiple LAG groups or non-LAG ports)
For uploading and downloading new controller software and configuration-backups, you will need an FTP server (or SFTP if you’re on 7.4 or newer). You can also use TFTP, but that is not recommended due to problems with large files and/or WAN links with extra latency (TFTP acknowledges each individual small packet in order before proceeding to the next). Linux systems have SFTP included with the SSH server and FTP servers available as supported packages. Windows servers can use IIS for FTP, but Windows clients (XP, Vista, 7) may want an easy server like FileZilla Server. If the FTP server is used only for managing Cisco devices, I recommend turning it off when you’re not actively transferring files with your Cisco gear.
If you have Apple iOS users and multiple SSID’s, make sure the enable the WLC “Fast SSID Switching” feature. Without this, user experience can be poor trying to associate to the desired SSID (multiple authentication popups, etc). See the following for details:
- Wireless LAN Controller [setting] for iOS Supplicant (cisco.com)
- Enable Fast SSID Changing (cisco.com)
Some useful WLC commands: “show boot”, “show sysinfo”, “save config”, “reset system”.