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Wireless Controller vs Mobility Express

Hi All,

I'm testing out Cisco's Mobility Express on a 3802i and am running into "gotcha" moments that I wasn't expecting. I'm hoping some of you more experienced people on here can help guide me through and find solutions if they exist.

Goal: I'm considering replacing my WLC5508 with a 3802i running ME.

To start... getting MGMT up and running on a trunk port was fun (has to be native vlan). Not to mention you need DHCP enabled on mgmt so the underlying AP can actually join and the system to not just sit still.

I now have the 3802i up and running and have a couple AP's joined to it (few hours spent before I realized I have to configure a TFTP server on ME that has the software the slave AP's require).

I created vlan 2074 and trunked it to the ME AP, created a WLAN on that VLAN and everything worked.

Disabled the radios on the ME AP to see if I could connect through the Slave AP. But it looks like the slave doesn't send the traffic back through the CAPWAP tunnel to the Master as it does in the WLC. Is that something that's configurable or am I stuck trunking the vlan's to every AP I have configured (administration overhead).

That's as far as I've gotten so far, if anyone else has tips or tricks that might help me along the way, please let me know.


VIP Mentor

I am not quite sure if you can make central switching work on ME (or the Embedded Wireless Controller of Catalyst 9100), but you likely don't want to. If you had central switching all aggregated traffic had to flow through this one AP. And that is not what the AP is designed for. The system is designed for Flexconnect local switching where your traffic exits each individual AP locally.



Just to add, when making a design change it best to understand the “overall”. Only central managed appliance allows traffic to be tunneled back. Autonomous, Mobility Express and Embedded Wireless Controller requires a trunk port since traffic will egress at the switchport. I would also look at going away from Mobility Express as that is going away in favor of the EWC. So look at what you have and where you need to be in a few years, then understand the different ways/technology and see where things fit. You don’t want to have to redesign again in one or two years.
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I had few questions when looking at your question. But those question answers are cleared when I look at the above answers. Please go through the above answers to know about the queries of the questions.


The 5508 is different than ME. With ME, all aps are on a trunk port and no traffic is tunneled back to the master. The master only controller the configuration of the system to all the slave associated access points. The data plane, which is the user traffic, is placed onto the trunk and the adjacent switch handles the traffic.
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