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« Cisco WLC (Wireless LAN Controller) Series - Building Blocks | Main | Top General Network Errors from Microsoft »

Cisco WLC (Wireless LAN Controller) Series - Introduction

After many late nights and pouring over countless sources of documentation, including the voluminous docs found at, all the concepts and design elements that comprise a Cisco WLC (Wireless LAN Controller) architecture have finally “clicked”.  I’ve somehow managed to escape enterprise wireless until now.  Learning a new platform is simultaneously exciting and challenging, particularly on day 1.  For any seasoned network engineer, jumping into the depths of enterprise wireless for the first time presents a steep learning curve that quickly needs straightening out.

Image (c) 2012 - used with permission

Tackling a new GUI/CLI is initially a series of exercises and tests in attaining enlightenment of not only the overarching architecture of the platform, but in understanding subtle nuances and hierarchical relationships.  Sample walk-thrus of configuration rarely explore these nuances in any meaningful way; that takes frequent help-searches and reference materials.  The process of reaching your “light bulb” moment is akin to having a pile of multicolored marbles that you can finally begin to order in a meaningful way.

I intend to show in this series (yet to be completed — please indicate interest by using the Like button at the bottom of this article and/or registering on this site) the basic components necessary in launching a small-scale WLC deployment quickly and without taking any design shortcuts that could cut into you future expandability nor have a negative impact on high-availability.

In the next the section on the Cisco WLC Series, I’ll attempt to show the relationships between these building blocks in a concise and meaningful way.  A diagram (not yet completed) showing these elements will hopefully illustrate the holistic understanding of a WLC in the least amount of time.  We’ll cover:

  1. Ports
  2. Interfaces (Service, Management, Dynamic)
  3. Interface Groups
  4. WLANs

In subsequent sections, we’ll touch topics on:

  1. IP and VLAN Planning for wireless
  2. DHCP Proxy
  3. AP Groups
  4. Guest wireless (without an auto-anchor)
  5. Mobility Group
  6. Mobility Domain

The subject of RF (radio frequencies), site surveys, AP (acces point) placement, and detailed config walk-thrus will be avoided as it’s not the goal here, and, besides, there are a great many other sources on the subject such as that would give better treatment to those topics.  The goal is to have you come away with a critical understanding of what it takes to build a small-scale WLC deployment, using a couple of 5508 WLCs, and be able to get your own system running in just a couple of weeks or less.


Sections in this series (completed):

  1. Introduction (this article)
  2. Building Blocks
  3. IP & VLAN Planning


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