Cisco shops can finally run a slew of branch office WLANs without having to put a controller at each site.
The company announced the Flex 7500 Series Cloud Controller at Interop last week, which centralizes control and management functions in the "private cloud" data center but allows for distributed data forwarding in local branch APs.
Connections and inter-AP fast-roaming capabilities stay up if there's a WAN failure between the branch site and the controller, and users can also authenticate locally, according to Greg Beach, director of product management in Cisco's wireless networking business unit.
The architecture alleviates the high cost associated with having a controller in every site in enterprises that are highly distributed, such as retail organizations.
However, the control and management functions are inaccessible if the WAN is unavailable. Cisco wireless VP and general manager Ray Smets said at the show that "retailers want CleanAir," Cisco's well-received spectrum analysis capabilities for identifying and mitigating sources of interference. "To get CleanAir, they need a controller. And they want that controller in the data center."
In other words, while a WAN failure would not impact local connectivity and data forwarding, continued operation of the bells-and-whistles RF management features such as CleanAir remain dependent on a live WAN.