Cisco 802.11ac - Wave 2
Cisco has recently begun releasing their 802.11ac Wave 2 APs. These are now the latest generation and highest speed APs available - we've got a Cisco 1832 in the office, so here's a first look.
The new Cisco 1832 AP supports both the traditional lightweight configuration, of connecting back to a controller and also offers a new option: Cisco Mobility Express which makes the access point a virtual controller capable of managing up to 25 lightweight APs.
This is an interesting change from Cisco and mirrors the Instant AP offering from Aruba. Removing the cost and additional complexity of a controller from small installations will make them more attractive in terms of cost – but it remains to be seen how this translates in terms of flexibility, control and management. Having a central controller is always going to give you some advantages.
Cisco 1832 802.11ac Configuration
Seeing as the major new feature is the virtual controller, let's take a look at the AP configuration for this.
Configuration is simple and very similar to a standalone controller, where you run through the configuration wizard via the console. Once the virtual controller is reachable you can browse to it via HTTPS and manage it using the new Mobility Express interface.
Since this is a physical Access point that also acts a virtual controller you will need to separate its two functions. It feels strange to be managing a “virtual” controller that ALSO has a physical access point attached!
Once you get your head around that it can be treated just like any other controller where you can add access points up to the 25 device maximum. You can even configure secondary and tertiary controllers for redundancy if required.
The user interface is relatively simple but manages to display useful information without making things confusing. There are a relatively small set of wireless configuration settings making setup a breeze allowing me to get it up and running in a matter of minutes without any issues.
There’s also a simple page showing you metrics on the AP and offers some insight into the performance of the AP and the environment.
There you have it! Cisco are taking Aruba head on in the Instant AP space – will be interesting to see how this is adopted in the market and if its gets some traction.
Cisco 1832 802.11ac Port Configuration
As an add on for the hands on engineers out there, here's a quick review on the back of the AP.
The Cisco 1832 has the usual array of ports. Perhaps of interest for a Wave 2 AP is the single POE port. Not clear on the use of the AUX port, but the cap in it suggest is not used at this stage. The addition of the USB interface is new - something we haven't seen before.