Cisco Systems’ approach to Wi-Fi in the cloud is through a one-rack data center controller that can support multiple sites. In effect, the data center is the private cloud for a college’s various locations, mitigating the need to put controllers at every site.
The Flex 7500 Series Wireless Controller works with all Cisco access points. Each unit can support 2,000 APs, pushing out software configurations and updates so there’s no need for an IT staffer at a college’s various outposts. The Flex 7500 follows the standard controller playbook in that the control is centralized for determining access point channels, but the data is distributed.
“We can locally switch the data traffic so it doesn’t have to go into the data tunnel from the access point into the controller,” says Greg Beach, director of Cisco’s Wireless Networking Business Unit. “The clients will stay connected and the network will continue to operate just fine if the WAN link goes down.”
This capability also means that peer-to-peer traffic between two students in different classrooms doesn’t have to run over the WAN link to the controller before reaching its destination. And with Cisco’s Prime Network Control System management software, which can reside in a college’s own data center or wherever IT wants to deploy it, network managers can deal with the plethora of devices college students bring to campus because the system can roll out policies at the device level.