Is Cisco's Mobility Express right for you?

One of the hottest topics on the minds of our customers for 2018 continues to be their wireless infrastructure. As WLAN 802.11ac wave 2 devices becoming mainstream, Cisco has placed a stake in the ground claiming to be the “value leader.”

Cisco's solution to accomplish this is Mobility Express, designed to help companies easily set up wireless LAN (WLAN) networks. What exactly is Mobility Express? And is it right for you?

What is Mobility Express?

Mobility Express is the ability to use an access point (AP) as a controller. That means a lightweight network without a controller box. Instead one of the APs on the network acts as the controller. Here is how Cisco describes it:

“Mobility Express integrates wireless LAN (WLAN) controller functions into the Cisco Aironet  3800, 2800, 1850, 1830, 1815, 1560 and 1540 Series Access Points. As such, Mobility Express is the latest in a series of Cisco efforts to turn WLAN controllers into a software function that any network component can host. Cisco controller capabilities also can be housed in standalone appliances (Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers, or WLCs), Cisco switches, Cisco routers, a private cloud, and a public cloud.”

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Which APs can do Mobility Express?

The below table lists which APs are supported:

Which APs can be controlled by a Mobility Express AP?

The following APs can be controlled by a Mobility Express AP:

Can the Cisco Aironet 3800, 2800, 1850, 1830, 1815, 1560 and 1540 access points function as WLAN controllers and access points at the same time?

Yes, they can function concurrently as an access point servicing clients, while also hosting the Mobility Express controller function.

What are the management options for Mobility Express?

Mobility Express can be managed by:

  • Cisco Mobility Express Web User Interface
  • Cisco Wireless mobile application (available at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store free of charge)
  • Cisco Prime Infrastructure, Release 3.0.1 or newer
  • Cisco command-line interface (CLI) through console cable, SSH, or Telnet

How many APs can be controlled at a time in Mobility Express?

It depends on the AP that is acting as a controller. It used to cut off at 25. Newer code changed that.

Limits to Master AP

If there are more than 50 access points in a Mobility Express network, the Master AP (running the WLAN controller function) can service a maximum of 20 clients. This limit applies only to Master AP and not any other access point in the Mobility Express network.

Features not supported by Mobility Express

One final bit of customer feedback: When I asked about the downside of going this route, I was pointed to a list of features not supported. And with the help from our product engineer team, I narrowed it down to six (may, or may not be relevant, depending on requirements):

  • Mesh mode
  • Workgroup Bridge (WGB) mode
  • Integrated BLE
  • Basic spectrum analysis
  • Cisco CleanAir
  • Cisco Wireless ClientLink 3.0

For more information, visit the Cisco Mobility Express Solution FAQ website.

This article was originally published on Network World. It can be found here.

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