Cisco Unified Wireless Network Architecture

The Cisco Unified wireless network architecture solution, using a split MAC design, controls APs using a WLAN controller (WLC) and can be optionally managed using Cisco Wireless Control Systems (WCS). The lightweight APs communicate with the WLAN controller using the Lightweight Access Control Point Protocol (LWAPP). The controller has all of the intelligence for communication and the AP is a “dumb terminal” that simply processes packets.

The Cisco Unified wireless network architecture requires the following devices:

Other WLAN controllers of greater capacity are also available. For example, the Cisco 5760 Wireless Controller and the Cisco 8500 Series Controller are designed to cost-effectively manage, secure, and optimize the performance of sizeable wireless networks, such as service provider and large campus deployments.

Figure 1 summarizes the lightweight APs.

Click each component in Figure 2 to display more information about the controllers for small and medium-sized businesses.