The Controller with NoS
December 11, 2020
The Controller with NoS
Score 9 out of 10
- Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL Wireless Controller
Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Catalyst 9800s
The 9800-CL is being used now to check the software stability of the IOS-XE, as this is software is new for Cisco. Being an AireOS user for forever, I am a bit hesitant about going there, especially since the last 3560 OS was a catastrophe.
I have been using this for the past year, basically for testing, and using the new AP's. The hardware is robust which is expected from Cisco. the software is great which i didn't expect it to be. Cisco seems that they put efforts in developing it. The tags are great way to manage the WLC resources efficiently, the upgrades, the features, even though some of them are not meant for the WLC, but as the SW is built for all Catalyst family you may see stuff and wonder why they are here (EIGRP, Routing... etc).
This month I am configuring it to replicate my production environment with 17.3.2a to do a PoC on wayfinding with DNA spaces. which I expect the WLC can handle easy with the performance license it has.
- Control Plan segregation
- MultiSite Configuration
- On-prem stable solution, while others are going for cloud.
- Security and support
- Licensing model
- The 1, 3, 5 years license is something to be looked at.
- The features are tied to a annual licenses which may impact the business
- The license model is complex.
This is the new wireless family they are introducing, in the next couple of years everything will go EoS, and the catalyst will remain. As we own a large wireless network, having the access points to be the same would benefit us in operation and HW failure since we are in the testing stage of the 9800. I guess if it is not going to improve the network it will be able to equally operate it as the 8510.
On the scale I am testing this WLC, the performance is amazing. No crashes, no apparent issues are there. Later when it goes to PoC testing, things will be more clear on the issues and the software stability Cisco are claiming, hopefully it will be up to the expectations. I am not going to use high availability on this platform, as PoC does not require that.
The only problem I had when I got this WLC is the upgrade, as the documentation was not clear enough on how to do the upgrade and the modes it had. Like the older platforms, I did not wait enough time, and reloaded the WLC, which bricked it to ROMMON mode. Believe me, for a first impression, this was bad. I was willing to give up on this platform and call it the same as the old ones of the 3560. Luckily the Cisco team jumped to help and restored it, which was easy. It shows that the hardware is reliable enough for such big issues. The software and documenation on the other hand needs improvement which is something expected.
The tags and the new architecture of the 9800 family is a great way to manage the polices and AP. Even the CPU of the WLC itself, Cisco has invested on such architecture, and seems its paying of. Again, the problem appears on the license Cisco is proposing: it's complex and pricey, plus has to be bought with each AP, even if you do not have DNA.
There is no room of comparison with the older AirOS. The 9800 series is built over a complete new architecture, the whole point of this HW is to learn from the AirOS mistakes and never do them again. With new technology comes new challenges, which in my opinion, is licensing. I chose this platform because Cisco are moving there.
[Well suited for] Small enterprise or office with a small number of clients that do not require complex integration and feature sets.
It doesn't work well in large enterprises and when the load is high, due to the hardware limitations and licensing scale. [Not suited] when there is no support available at the site, it requires an experienced engineer to configure and troubleshoot.