New: Cisco 3850 as Mobility Controller

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Cisco updated its Cisco 3850’s functionality recently. WLC (Wireless Controller) services were offered in this higher-end Catalyst 3850 switch. And as a virtual image ‘Virtual WLC’ that runs under VMware ESX/ESXi 4.x/5.x.

What does the Cisco 3850 switch look like as a Mobility Controller? In this article, we will share the role of Cisco 3850 as Mobility Controller.Cisco 3850 switches-MC

The first software code version on Cisco Catalyst 3850 is Cisco IOS XE Software 3.2.0SE. The Cisco IOSd Software version is 15.0(1)EX. To run the Cisco Catalyst 3850 12-port and 24-port SFP models, Cisco IOS XE Software 3.3.3SE is required. To run the newer Cisco Catalyst 3850 12-port and 24-port SFP+ models Cisco IOS XE Software 3.7.1SE is required. The Cisco Catalyst 3850 48-port SFP+ model will be supported on 3.7.2SE.

The Cisco Catalyst 3850 has a single Cisco IOS Software image that has wired and wireless capabilities built in. The wireless controller software cannot be upgraded separately.

And there is no separate wireless configuration for the Cisco Catalyst 3850. The configuration wizard enables the Cisco Catalyst 3850 for basic wired and wireless functionality.

Cisco Catalyst 3850 switches can support these models of access points: LAP1040, LAP1142, LAP1260, CAP3700, CAP3500, CAP3600, CAP2600, and CAP1600, AP700I, AP700W, AP2700 and AP1530 (no mesh).

The following access point modes are supported on the Cisco Catalyst 3850:

  • Local mode
  • SE connect mode
  • Monitor mode
  • Sniffer mode

Flex mode and indoor mesh access points are not supported.

Cisco Catalyst 3850 doesn’t support indirectly connected access points. The Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch will always terminate the CAPWAP tunnel locally. Pass-through mode or indirectly connected access point is not supported at this time. Note that a Cisco Catalyst 3850 12-port or 24-port SFP model can be a good choice to act as mobility controller for a stack of Cisco Catalyst 3850 switches that terminate CAPWAP tunnels locally.

The Cisco Catalyst 3850 Series Switch supports two modes of operation. It can be operated as a mobility agent or mobility controller.

Notes: 1. A mobility controller is a switch providing mobility management services for group roaming events. The mobility controller provides a central point of contact for management and policy-based control protocols. In mobility controller mode, the mobility agent capabilities are inherited. The mobility controller functionality requires an IP Base or IP Services image licenses with necessary AP count licenses.

2. A mobility agent (MA) is an access switch such as Cisco Catalyst 3850 with a wireless module running on it. A mobility agent has the following functionality: CAPWAP tunnels of directly connected access points and maintaining client mobility state machine. The mobility agent functionality requires an IP Base or IP Services capable image licenses.

In the following part there are some quick questions that help you know something about the mobility & mobility controller.

Q: Can Mobility Agent (MA) be paired with Mobility Controller (MC) over the WAN?

A. No. The MA and MC must not be deployed over the WAN; they must be deployed within LAN (L2/L3) boundary.

Q. What is a switch peer group (SPG)?

A. Switch peer group is the list of statically configured neighboring switches. It localizes traffic for roams within its distribution block.

Q. What is a mobility group?

A. A mobility group is the grouping of a mobility controller and related devices to enable fast roaming, radio frequency management, and so on.

Q. What is a mobility domain?

A. A mobility domain is the entire set of wireless devices across which roaming is supported.

Q. How is Layer 3 Roaming enabled in a distributed architecture?

A. The data is tunneled back to the switch where the IP address lives (the anchor switch).

Q. What are the scalability numbers for new converged access architecture?

The following Table provides scalability information.

Scalability Numbers with Cisco 3850 as Mobility Controller

Scalability 3850 as MC 5760 5508 WiSM2
Max number of MC in Mobility Domain 8 72 72 72
Max number of MC in Mobility Group 8 24 24 24
Max number of MAs in Sub-domain (per MC) 16 350 350 350
Max number of SPGs in Sub-domain (per MC) 8 24 24 24
Max number of MAs in a SPG 16 64 64 64

Q. Are 5508 and WiSM2 supported as part of the converged access deployment mode?

A. Yes. The 5508 and WiSM2 with 7.6.x and 8.0.x can operate as mobility controllers with the Cisco Catalyst 3850.

Q. What type of HA functionality is supported by the Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch stack?

A. The Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch stack supports transparent access point failover with access point SSO functionality. Client SSO will be added at a later time.

Q. What is the difference between new Cisco Catalyst 3850 and legacy Cisco Catalyst 3750G-WS Series Switch with integrated controller?

A. The 3750G-WS has separate control and data planes for wired and wireless functionality. The Cisco IOS XE architecture enables converged wired and wireless in the next-generation Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch. The new converged access delivers a single OS, system operation, and management for wired and wireless users. Both wired and wireless features can be configured and monitored using a single console.

Q. What are the new safety and compliance standards supported?

A. FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria (CC), UC APL, USGv6.

…More updates from

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