IT Central Station is now PeerSpot: Here's why

Cisco Wireless OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Cisco Wireless is #2 ranked solution in top Wireless LAN tools. PeerSpot users give Cisco Wireless an average rating of 8 out of 10. Cisco Wireless is most commonly compared to Aruba Wireless: Cisco Wireless vs Aruba Wireless. Cisco Wireless is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 59% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 30% of all views.
Cisco Wireless Buyer's Guide

Download the Cisco Wireless Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: July 2022

What is Cisco Wireless?
With Cisco Wireless you will successfully plan, deploy, monitor, troubleshoot, and report on indoor and outdoor wireless networks - all from a centralized location.

Cisco Wireless was previously known as Cisco WLAN Controller.

Cisco Wireless Customers
Aegean Motorway, Baylor Scott & White Health, Beachbody, Bellevue, Brunel University London, Bucks County Intermediate Unit , Chartwell School, Children's Hospital Colorado, Cisco Live Milan, City of Biel, City of Mississauga, Dundee Precious Metals, Electricity Authority of Cyprus, Erickson Living, Goldcorp, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Grupo Industrial Saltillo (GIS)
Cisco Wireless Video

Cisco Wireless Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Cisco Wireless pricing:
  • "It might be around $100 for a license. The internal ones are far cheaper than that."
  • "Its cost is a little bit higher than other products. Fortinet and Huawei are cheaper. If we were not a bank, I would go for Huawei or Fortinet because they are cheap, and I don't need that much security. A financial institute, a university, or a medical institute would need security to protect the customer data. That's why we buy this high-end product that has integrated security features."
  • "It's expensive because a lot of the controls come with licenses."
  • "The licensing system is very rigid. I work for a school and we are just treated like big companies. At some point, there's a limit to what we can do about that."
  • "However, when you integrate the access point and the controller with the DNAT across multiple sites, you need a DNAT cluster, which is a costly solution. Every site has a controller, and a DNAT cluster is not a good option in a global framework. It's okay for a small office or a few offices. But when you're talking about 500 offices, the cost becomes enormous."
  • Cisco Wireless Reviews

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    Network Engineer at County of victoria
    Real User
    Top 20
    Robust with a good level of performance and very helpful technical support
    Pros and Cons
    • "It always runs, and it's very reliable in terms of performance."
    • "Their software's really clunky."

    What is our primary use case?

    We work at a courthouse, however, we manage the data for the entire county. We have them at the Sheriff's office. They use them in commissary purchases, which is a separate SSI and separate VLAN. That's to segregate wireless traffic for different groups of people per their needs.  We have lawyers that maybe need to reach back into the network and access their documents when they take a laptop to the courtroom with them. And so through that, we've done some radius authentication. Therefore, it's not just an SSI ID. They actually have to log in with credentials as well.  Then, we have a guest SSID just for general public access, and that's basically running wide open. We do have a simple password audit, however, everybody knows it, and that's separated by VLAN as well and run through Palo Alto. We also have a whole different SSID for patrol units for the Sheriff's office, where they upload car videos and update their car computers wirelessly. We use it broadly. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    The solution has let us get network access to more people in different locations where wires aren't feasible - like in a garage or for the Sheriff's office uploads in courtrooms. In some of these courtrooms, you can't run additional wire due to the fact that they're historical buildings. You have to have wireless. Also, you have lawyers walking around and you don't want them tripping over stuff. It's useful in every aspect of getting public access - even for when there are events in the square, across from the courthouse. It's basically helped us better serve everybody and provided them with network access.

    What is most valuable?

    It always runs, and it's very reliable in terms of performance. They are very, very robust, very rugged, and can handle indoor or outdoor coverage. We typically don't have too many problems with the hardware.

    What needs improvement?

    The wireless LAN controllers at the time when we started rolling out, we went with it simply due to the fact that everything else worked that was Cisco. We figured, if everything else works and we're satisfied with it, let's go that route. However, now people want more access points and more spots. And if you give everybody coverage, the cost is crazy high. You can either say, "No, we can't," or you can go with the cheaper product, even slightly cheaper, plus you get more APs out there for more coverage. At least with the WLC 2500 that we've been using, you can't take just the stock AP from them. You have to use lightweight firmware. You turn it into a lightweight AP and then you can join it to, or provision it to, the wireless controller, which should be automatic. In most cases, it works pretty well, however, it's still not there yet, as far as plugging it into this network that's going to tunnel back to the controller. I would say it works 7 out of 10 times. For the price, it should be a 10 out of 10. Especially with Cisco running an entire Cisco network with CDP all over the place, there should be no reason it doesn't tunnel back every single time. And yet, there are a few times where it doesn't.It got to the point where, when I prevent in APs, I just take them directly to the switch that the controller is plugged into and provision them there instead of just plugging them in like you should be able to.  The software on offer is not great. Cisco lacks in software updates, surprisingly. They don't update their firmware too much for the controller. This is not something you want to be done constantly as it does make downtime, however, I would like to see them more than once a year. Unless there's a critical flaw, or you're running an early release. They're their main releases, I want to say year after year, it's been maybe once a year, and then you have to push it out to all your APs.  Their software's really clunky. It's not very user-friendly, which you can see that as a good thing and a bad thing. We should learn this stuff, but at the same time, it shouldn't be overly difficult. You shouldn't have your options hidden in menus. You shouldn't have to go 25 minutes deep to get to some security options for a specific SSID.  Also the way the group their security settings is a little bit backward to me. It's not done by SSID. There's just a security tab. Then, you have to link back and forth through that. However, that's something that you're going to fight with through every controller, every different type of device. We all wish they were organized differently. 
    Buyer's Guide
    Cisco Wireless
    July 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Cisco Wireless. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
    610,229 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We originally started using the solution in 2014. We had one before then as well. Since we've gone wireless, or implemented wireless throughout the buildings here, we've always used Cisco. This is just a Cisco shop. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is extremely stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's reliable.  The one issue we did have was with their mesh radios. I'm not sure that it was with the radio itself, the software in the radio. They run two different firmware. One is autonomous firmware, which they use with their AP line and then lightweight APs. With the autonomous one, there's no consistency there. For the indoor APs, you'll have lightweight firmware that you need on them. And then for the outdoor mesh radios, they're not fully autonomous, yet you have to have the autonomous software on them for the mesh feature to function. That's a little bit convoluted and I kind of wished that would just have it one way or the other.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The solution scales easily. The number of users varies. Some days we have court cases and then you have jurors, lawyers, the media people. It varies widely. I would say on average, we have possibly 200 people a day on a slow day using it. And then on an extremely busy day, it could double that. We use the solution quite extensively. We do plan to increase usage, however, it won't necessarily be with this product. We'll probably like to go with a different product based on price and licensing.

    How are customer service and support?

    Technical support is 10 out of 10. Cisco tech support is one of the best supports I've ever dealt with.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was very straightforward. As we have added SSIDs, when we have had a hardware failure, the re-setup, for instance, is a bit more involved. When the controller itself was acting kind of finicky, we did an overnight request and got one in. Re-uploading that configuration was not as easy if that makes sense. If you're setting up a brand new device, it's very easy, very straightforward. If you're trying to restore from a backup configuration, it's not as easy. We ended up actually just resetting it up from scratch.The deployment itself likely took three hours.We had some bugs to work out after that, however, the majority of it was up and running within three hours. For maintenance, you only need one person (a network admin) and then a backup person, just in case that person is on vacation or something.

    What about the implementation team?

    We handled the setup all in-house. We do have their tech support. At one point, we did get tech on the phone and were working with them. It basically came down to firmware. The one they shipped us could not downgrade its firmware to the firmware we were running on. There was no good way to make it upload the config from an older firmware. They wanted the same firmware restorations. That was kind of a pain, however, we just ended up manually going through and resetting everything, which was not too terrible.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Cisco's APs are licensed and you need to buy them. Basically, for every AP, you have to have a license. Some of the other devices do it so that they support X amount and you can buy the licenses for zero to 20, 20 to 40, et cetera, and it's a little bit more affordable. That's kind of why I was trending towards Ruckus. They handle their licensing a little bit differently.  Every time somebody asks "How much is a wireless access point? We need wireless in this room." Well, then you tell them the cost and mention "Oh yeah, and there's a license." It's expensive. Users purchase each AP, and that's until the end of that product's life. If you break it down over a year, it's fairly affordable. However, nobody replaces one AP, we replace them all typically at the same time. Unless one dies or they need one expanded, as far as specific costs go, it's different for indoor and outdoor ones. It might be around $100 for a license. The internal ones are far cheaper than that. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We had looked at Meraki before, however, the cost is just astronomical. We're a local government, so there's no money. The cost of Cisco wireless controllers has always been kind of clunky. I had heard a lot of good things about Aruba, and then I heard they were bought out by HP, however, it seems like it's still good. I was leaning more towards Ruckus based on just how it handles traffic and handles the guest VLANs and that it can do SSI de-scheduling. I still need to go back and do an in-depth read on the Ruckus option. I am leaning towards that one, even though it seems like it's a close tie.I also looked at Ubiquity, however, from what I've read, their hardware is not really up to par when you hit saturation, and on certain days of the week here, we definitely have saturated APs due to the fact that we have court cases. You can go from the usual 10 people on an AP to possibly 40 plus people, all trying to check their internet over the wireless. It gets kind of crazy on those days.

    What other advice do I have?

    We're just a customer and an end-user. We use the 2500 wireless controller and all the APs that go with it.  We have Cisco switches and routers as well. We were using Cisco firewalls up until about three years ago. And then we switched to Palo Alto. As far as switching goes, still happy with their switches. They're extremely pricey, however, they last forever, and they meet a lot of government requirements that we have. I'd recommend the solution I wouldn't hesitate to do install it if the company can afford it. I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten for its ease of setup, ease of scalability, and robustness.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    GulfrazAhmad - PeerSpot reviewer
    Division Head Enterprise Infrastructure (SVP) at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Integrates with ISE, and is secure, reliable, and easy to deploy
    Pros and Cons
    • "Wireless connectivity is the main feature. It is also securely integrated with ISE, which is valuable because, in the banking industry, we also cover the security aspect. This Wi-Fi controller integrates with the ISE system that we have. Every user that comes on the wireless needs to log in with the domain. If they don't, it will not allow the user to join the network. This is the key feature of this solution."
    • "The main concern is the length and overlapping. We have to put on four to six access points on the same floor, and we face the issue of overlapping areas. If Cisco can extend the range of their indoor APs, we would need to install just one or two access points, and it would eliminate the problem of the overlapping area."

    What is our primary use case?

    We have two types of controllers in our network. One is a Cisco Wireless Controller, which is software-based, and the second one is an SD-WAN Controller, which is hardware-based.

    We have installed this controller in the two buildings. One is in Lahore, and one is in Karachi. In one of them, there are around 54 wireless LANs and 54 wireless routers for 200 to 300 customers, and the other one is also serving 250 to 300 customers.

    We are using its latest version. It is deployed on-premises because as per the regulations, we cannot put not any controller on the cloud for the banking infrastructure. That's why we install the controller on the site.

    We have installed it for secure connectivity while roaming within the building. We have four VLANs. One is the wireless one for the most senior executives. We have a grading system in the bank. The senior vice president, the executive vice president, and the president are in one group. The second VLAN or Wi-Fi is for the assistant vice president and the vice president. The third one is for all users from OG-3 officers to OG-1. The fourth one is for any guests who walk into our building, such as vendors or workers who come into the office building.

    What is most valuable?

    Wireless connectivity is the main feature. It is also securely integrated with ISE, which is valuable because, in the banking industry, we also cover the security aspect. This Wi-Fi controller integrates with the ISE system that we have. Every user that comes on the wireless needs to log in with the domain. If they don't, it will not allow the user to join the network. This is the key feature of this solution. If we install any other wireless, they give us MAC address binding. They also give us hardware address connectivity, but Cisco Wireless supports integration with ISE, and the ISE part is an option for the application posture. When we implement the application posture on the upper file system, if anyone connects to the network wirelessly or wired, they can only access specific applications. For example, if I give them permission only for Word and Excel, they would just be able to open Word and Excel on their laptops. If I give them access to the email system, they will just be able to open their email. This is the main benefit of the integration with Cisco ISE.

    What needs improvement?

    The main concern is the length and overlapping. We have to put on four to six access points on the same floor, and we face the issue of overlapping areas. If Cisco can extend the range of their indoor APs, we would need to install just one or two access points, and it would eliminate the problem of the overlapping area.

    They should provide built-in features for safe authentication. Right now, we integrate with ISE and FortiClient for this feature. We first check the NAC, and after the NAC and before the domain, a token password installed on their mobile or a physical token is required to join the network. If Cisco had built-in authentication, we would be able to eliminate one product from our network.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using this controller since 2012.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is stable and reliable. In the last seven to eight years, we had zero downtime in our production environment. That's also because we have it in cluster mode. So, if one controller fails, the second one will automatically take over.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It is very easy to scale. The controller license that we currently have can handle 500 APs, but we have only 50 to 60 APs. We can just add APs and go on. We should put only 80% load on a device, so when we reach 400 APs, we need to add a controller.

    How are customer service and support?

    We have the Cisco Wireless Controller agreement. If we face any issue, we engage our first-level support. If the issue is non-critical, such as at a branch level, we engage the second level of support. If the issue is at the core level, then we directly engage the third-level support to resolve the issue. If the issue is still not resolved, we open the case through the Cisco website, and a Cisco engineer is available. Cisco also has three levels: one, two, and three. If you have a severity level three, Cisco engages someone within 15 to 20 minutes. If the severity level is one, Cisco engages someone after two, three, or four hours. They engage as per the case severity. I am satisfied with their support.

    How was the initial setup?

    It is straightforward. With some clicks, you can add and delete everything. It is very simple. If you have the knowledge, everything is simple. If you're untrained, you need some time to understand things.

    In terms of duration, in a 10-floor building in Lahore, for a room, the cabling work and firewall configuration take three to four days. Some of the configurations can take four to five days.

    What about the implementation team?

    We have a team of people certified in Cisco and Huawei, and we directly engage with Cisco. We eliminate other vendors, which has two benefits. One benefit is the knowledge from Cisco, and the second benefit is that it eliminates the cost of the support. When any vendor comes to your site and offers services, they charge 10% to 20% of the SLA cost.

    Cisco gave us a contract team, and we directly engaged with Cisco for installation and integration. We have support at levels one, two, and three. At level four, when there is a hardware failure, we go to Cisco and open an RMA. Cisco then sends us a new product that we install personally. We don't need any vendor support.

    Their maintenance is done quarterly. The hardware support team uninstalls our APs on off days, cleans them up, loads the required things, and then reinstalls them. If they find any defect in the physical box, they just open an RMA. Cisco then gives us a new product, and we install the product.

    There are two people who work on the controller and access points. Customer enrollment is handled by the desktop support team, which is a 30 people team. Out of them, 10 to 15 people take care of user access. The core team has only two network guys.

    The other part is the hardware support team, and for the whole bank, there are 30 to 40 people for any kind of hardware support. Any person is available to replace the AP. It is just a few-minute job. They just plug out the cable, do the installation. When APs come on the network, they directly go to the controller, and the controller updates their software and pushes the configuration. It is an easy task.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Its cost is a little bit higher than other products. Fortinet and Huawei are cheaper. If we were not a bank, I would go for Huawei or Fortinet because they are cheap, and I don't need that much security. A financial institute, a university, or a medical institute would need security to protect the customer data. That's why we buy this high-end product that has integrated security features.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would recommend it based on the requirements. Any medical, educational, financial, and government sector can go for Cisco with closed eyes. A retail shop, store, or restaurant doesn't require Cisco. They just need internet access, and they can go with Huawei, Fortinet, Ruckus, or any other third party. You need to know your requirements before deciding on a solution.

    I would rate this solution an eight out of 10.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    Buyer's Guide
    Cisco Wireless
    July 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Cisco Wireless. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
    610,229 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Technology Specialist at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Combines the mobility of wireless with the performance of wired networks
    Pros and Cons
    • "The CleanAir features and the fast transition."
    • "I wouldn't mind if Cisco allowed their premiere devices to be able to have that cloud-based support as well, or cloud-based management."

    What is our primary use case?

    Everything I do is generally command line and I use the gooey of the device. I also use a Cisco network assistant to manage the devices. I have a third-party monitor that checks to make sure everything's online — that's it. I don't have any kind of integrated solution where everything is captured within one piece of software.

    I prioritize what buildings I can try to upgrade the access points from. I am looking to update my controllers because my controllers are older. They still function fine; I haven't needed to change them yet. I know eventually, they become end-of-life — that's when I'll have to switch them out.

    I use Cisco wireless controllers, 2500s. I know they're pretty much going to be end-of-life soon, but I've been using them. They've been solid, I've had them for numerous years. That's what I use to manage those devices. My switches are pretty much a 3650s layer-three and they provide POE over POE plus over 40 access points to be online. It's a big network, but I keep everything in a very basic way. It's easily managed; it's just a very small department.

    We're a school district, so every kid has a device. Every teacher has a device and everything is wireless. On a full school day, we can have up to 1,500 devices online at the same time. I try to make sure that everything is connected and that we have enough bandwidth. And if there's an issue that ever comes up, I always try to go there and evaluate it and correct it when needed. With the Cisco product that I've had, I've never had a lot of downtime. So I've been pretty happy with what they provide.

    I want to purchase more because I want to update. Wireless standards are changing. You've got to go to WiFi 6, which is 802.11ax. That's in a few years. I don't need to do that yet because our devices won't accommodate that. Everything's still back on 802.11.ac. So there's no point, but in the future, maybe two, three years down the line, when we start getting new devices that accommodate WiFi 6, and I'm going to look for access points to be able to accommodate it as well.

    What is most valuable?

    The CleanAir features and the fast transition. They're probably the best things that I enjoy as well as just being able to put multiple SSIDs on those things and being able to segment my network that way. As for authentication, I use a RADIUS server, a third-party RADIUS server, for authentication on the wireless SSIDs.

    What needs improvement?

    I have nothing that's outstanding at this point that I think needs to be improved. Cisco has been solid so I don't have much to complain about. It's a little more money, however. I just configure it and it works for years, which is great. That's what I love about it.

    I know Cisco has a Meraki brand, which uses a lot of cloud-based technology. I wouldn't mind if Cisco allowed their premiere devices to be able to have that cloud-based support as well, or cloud-based management. That would be a nice feature.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using this solution for over 15 years. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is fantastic. I can't complain. Not one bit.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability is nice. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We have SMARTnet contracts with Cisco. On occasion, I've actually called them for technical support, but most of the stuff I just kind of figured out on my own.

    The technical support is great. They were very accommodating and if they didn't have the answer, they would get back to me or send me an email with some information that I can refer to. But I've never been left in a lurch where I was waiting an excessively long amount of time. They've always been quick to respond and they've been very courteous as well.

    How was the initial setup?

    For me, the initial setup is straightforward because I have everything in place. Each VLAN has a wireless controller. When I put Cisco's access point on, dynamically, it basically finds the controller, joins it, and then after joining it, I'll just log in and I'll make any configuration changes that I need to accommodate the area that it's working in.

    For me, deployment takes a few days; I've been doing this long enough. If I ever have an issue, I always look it up. 

    What about the implementation team?

    I pretty much deployed it myself. I try to keep it simple, I don't make things complex. It makes it easier for me to manage it. A couple of times in the past we've had some outside help. A lot of that just had to do with the installation of something because it comes down to timing. Being a very small department, I don't always have the time to be able to put this stuff together. So sometimes it's just helpful to get someone outside to help us out.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    It's expensive because a lot of the controls come with licenses. A couple of my controls have 15 or 25 access point licenses. And if it's in a building that I need more, then I have to go out to a vendor and be able to purchase the add-on license and then pop it in. It's not bad putting a license in, it's just the biggest complaint I have about Cisco is the cost.

    Right now there's no subscription. That's the other thing I like about it. We buy it and that's it. The only thing I purchase is the SMARTnet that allows me to do software upgrades for my equipment. I'm paying about $6,000 or $7,000 a year in SMARTnet contracts for that support. Basically, I use it more for the software updates that allow me to keep everything up to date.

    What other advice do I have?

    Like anything in life, if you're familiar with it, it's easy. Can it get complicated? Of course. But I would just say, just do your research. And make sure you count the cost too. There are two things that are in play here; do your research. Once you get on a comfort level, then you can proceed with it. It works. It's pretty solid. And then the cost. Make sure that if you've got to expand that you have the financial flexibility to be able to accommodate any expansion you need, if not, then you may want to turn to another solution that might be a little cheaper.

    Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of nine. 

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Engineer at Comunidad Cristiana Misioneros San Wenceslao
    Real User
    Great integration with an easy setup and lots of documentation
    Pros and Cons
    • "The integration is great."
    • "There's a delay in equipment that comes to Columbia, to our country, and that lasts almost six months."

    What is our primary use case?

    In our warehouse, we use a wireless solution for every job we have there. For example, we have dispatch trucks or picking. They call it picking when you choose the products and go to the warehouse site of our clients. All of that operation is wireless.

    They use a Vocollect solution for warehouse sites. If we don't have wireless, they don't have Vocollect and without it, they don't know how to offer dispatch for the trucks.

    For plants, we have solutions for tablets. The tablets manage all of our equipment, our principal machines. That's why we need the wireless option that Cisco provides.

    We use the solution for connectivity for our employees.

    What is most valuable?

    The deep knowledge of Cisco is its most valuable aspect. The Wireless Cisco solution has been in development for many years. That gives users trust in the solution. 

    There are many engineers that know how to operate Cisco. If I choose another vendor or another solution, I have to be very careful about how much knowledge is actually there in the market. For example, if I have a problem, how easy is it to find someone, an expert, in order to do a solution for a problem? That's why we choose Cisco. There's deep knowledge there that doesn't exist elsewhere. Also, Cisco has commercial representatives in our country, in our city. It's easy to communicate with Cisco directly. With others, it's not that easy.

    The integration is great. For all Cisco environments, the integration is easy. W have a lot of Cisco products. The integration between them all is simple. That's why the other company we work for or we as a team choose Cisco as a vendor.

    The initial setup is easy.

    We've found the solution to be scalable.

    What needs improvement?

    The price needs improvement. The bad thing about Cisco is about price. Nowadays it's all about delays in equipment as well. Any hardware is delayed. 

    There's a delay in equipment that comes to Columbia, to our country, and that lasts almost six months. I have a project in which we have to wait for six months, seven months in order to get the equipment. That is the bad aspect nowadays.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    The company I work for has been using Cisco for 20 to 25 years.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    My company has so many brands and so many plants and factories. We are a multi-Latina company. We have brands in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, et cetera. Our inventory of Cisco equipment is almost 300 to 500 devices. There are many series there. The new branch has 91 or 92 Wireless, however, they also have old series such as the 12,000 series. It's old, too old, however, this year we are planning to fix that.

    It's so scalable. For example, if I update the series, I don't have to change all my environment. I only have to change the parts that I need.

    We have 5,000 employees on the product. All of them use wireless. For example, we use wireless for daily operations of the factory. 

    We do plan to increase usage. This year we are planning to open a new warehouse. They are going to need a Cisco solution. Even at this moment, we have the design, or we are checking the design. We maybe will buy the solution in next month or two. That is the roadmap.

    How are customer service and support?

    Technical support is very helpful. It's easy to reach them. We are satisfied with the level of service. 

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We just have Cisco solutions. We don't have any other vendors in our network.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is simple.

    The knowledge is easy to locate. You need to click or look for a special website. You have so much information on the cloud and so much information, documents, et cetera. That's why developing a project with Cisco is easy.

    If I have a big project it could take maybe four to five months, however, that's for a big project.

    For deployment, maybe for a big project, we have ten people. For the operations, for support solutions, my team is comprised of five people. That's five engineers that make up my personal team.

    What about the implementation team?

    I contract a partner to help with implementation. If I have a big project, I contract the design. 

    As the first step, we contract the design. For the design, sometimes Cisco gives us the special engineers. However, in other cases, we contract the design. That design comes with a WiFi heat design. They have visual material.

    The other step is to contract the solution with a partner. We send to the market an RFP, a request in order to have the best price in the market and the best partner in the market. The other step is to implement or to develop the project.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The licensing is expensive. The cost of licenses is expensive, as are other solutions. When we have a project, we have to clarify to our financial staff why we chose Cisco, as there are other, cheaper solutions. The cost of equipment is expensive.

    For example, for new brand equipment, Cisco Wireless equipment, it costs $1,500 for one piece of equipment. That includes licenses, installation, and equipment. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We looked at Meraki, however, we decided our organization was a bit too large for that particular solution. We prefer to have on-premises options.

    I also test other solutions, for example, Aruba or Ubiquiti.

    What other advice do I have?

    I am an end-user. I work for a manufacturing company. I manage the networking solution for that company.

    At this moment, we are choosing Cisco as a continuous technology. Nowadays just we have our roadmap. Our plan for the next two months is to open a new branch office, and no more.

    I'd rate this solution at a ten out of ten.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    Housni Hammoud - PeerSpot reviewer
    Coordinator of the IT Department at College Notre-Dame
    Real User
    Top 10
    Worked well over the span of a decade, but necessary upgrades were too expensive
    Pros and Cons
    • "Overall, Cisco was stable and worked well for all our needs until we started having more and more students and teachers using YouTube and Zoom — what with classes being isolated and everything — which put a lot of strain on our Wi-Fi network."
    • "The biggest reason why we could no longer continue with Cisco Wireless was because of the high cost to upgrade everything. It was disappointing that Cisco treated us as just another big company, and did not offer any leeway on their pricing given that we are an educational institute. And although the system we had in place from Cisco Wireless was good enough over the last ten years, it started to show its age when pushed to its limit during the pandemic."

    What is our primary use case?

    Until we switched to Ruckus about a month ago, we had used Cisco Wireless products for the past ten years at our school of about 1800 students and 250 employees, including the teachers. The teachers and students all use iPads so wireless (Wi-Fi) is a big part of our network.

    We used Cisco for everything, including wired switches, wireless switches, the core switch, etc. For the wireless network we used Cisco WiSM, which is the old version of Cisco's wireless controller. Since we had used this Cisco equipment for so long and it was showing its age, we ultimately decided it was time for us to renew everything along with all the new features that are now available.

    What is most valuable?

    I enjoyed Cisco's Meraki MDM which we already had installed, even though at the end of the day it was too expensive for us to continue in that direction when upgrading.

    Overall, Cisco was stable and worked well for all our needs until we started having more and more students and teachers using YouTube and Zoom — what with classes being isolated and everything — which put a lot of strain on our Wi-Fi network. 

    What needs improvement?

    The biggest reason why we could no longer continue with Cisco Wireless was because of the high cost to upgrade everything. It was disappointing that Cisco treated us as just another big company, and did not offer any leeway on their pricing given that we are an educational institute. And although the system we had in place from Cisco Wireless was good enough over the last ten years, it started to show its age when pushed to its limit during the pandemic.

    Generally, and this isn't so much a question of support, it was also very difficult for us to determine exactly what the problem was when we had a problem. We didn't have enough tools for diagnosis on the system, in terms of identifying who is connected where at a certain point in time and so on. We would have liked more tools when it comes to diagnosis and traceability.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've used Cisco Wireless for over ten years. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The Cisco system worked well before, for many years. It was only after we started having capacity issues that we found the stability was suffering.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Along with the isolation measures, students and teachers started using Zoom and video sites like YouTube much more, which is when the wireless system started to show its limits.

    After ten years of having the same system, we essentially started again from scratch when it came to upgrading. We looked into scaling up with Cisco Wireless, but unfortunately it would have been too expensive for us.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We didn't have much contact with Cisco technical support. The consultants would do the job for us, and the only time we needed them afterwards was when we had a problem with our Wi-Fi controllers. 

    We had two controllers for high availability and when we realized that the second one was not working, we contacted support. Unfortunately, we didn't have SMARTnet for it, so we ordered SMARTnet to be able to exchange the device, and they said we just renewed the SMARTnet so we had a penalty of one month without the second controller.

    We did not appreciate the way they handled it, because even though it wasn't a lot of money to them as a big company, it was a lot of money to us. I don't believe that was the right way for them to behave, especially with a school. We would have teachers come and tell us, "What's going on with the Wi-Fi? It doesn't work." But I couldn't really tell them, "It's a Cisco resource," and all that.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    Actually, we have now switched to Ruckus only about a month ago. After evaluating the costs for upgrading the entire wireless network, we found that it would have been too expensive for us to continue with Cisco Wireless.

    What about the implementation team?

    For deployment and maintenance we had three technicians and we also had support from our consulting company. We actually changed consulting companies twice, and we used them mainly for making updates and changing the setups.

    With the most recent consulting company, we unfortunately lost contact with them and didn't have the documentation to finish the job that they had started.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The licensing system is very rigid. I work for a school and we are just treated like big companies. At some point, there's a limit to what we can do about that.

    I can't remember what we paid for the equipment, though in the end we bought some extra switches from an aftermarket company. We started doing our own replacing of equipment, which we didn't really use. The SMARTnet contract was only for the core switch and the Wi-Fi controllers, and we didn't go that way for the rest of the equipment.

    If we had, it would have cost something around $2000-$3000 per switch, and we have 30 of them, so it wouldn't have been affordable for us.

    What other advice do I have?

    The best advice I can give is to always get a second opinion. When I arrived six years ago, we had way too many access points, and the density was causing a lot of interference. It was only after removing some access points that we had better Wi-Fi. When asked, the school said that they had originally added more access points because the Cisco technicians told them to.

    I would rate Cisco Wireless a seven out of ten. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Mgr - Applications Enterprise Applications at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Stable and easy to use
    Pros and Cons
    • "For me, the most valuable thing about Cisco Wireless is its ease of use and stability."
    • "It's very scalable, but when you shift gears sometimes, you have to do more work than people anticipate."

    What is our primary use case?

    We're using Cisco Wireless for patient tracking or infant abduction and security — for securing the floor and our infant patients. Cisco is also used for device management, such as IV pumps and other small but significant pieces of equipment that we need to track. We're also using it for temperature monitoring in the refrigerators for drugs and things that must be kept at a specific temperature. We use Cisco Wireless for patients' access and any wireless cart, whether it's a PC or an EKG machine. And we have different channels for stuff in the health network and the staff network versus what is publicly open for the patients and family.

    What is most valuable?

    For me, the most valuable thing about Cisco Wireless is its ease of use and stability. 

    What needs improvement?

    The biggest pain point has been keeping our people and the vendor up to speed on the technology. It's getting our staff to understand that opening up a laptop and connecting to the WLAN is not the same as triangulating and trying to figure out where an IV pump is. So when you're trying to use the real-time location services, I think it's that shift from your density and your overlap. For example, you used to be able to stick an access point up if something was a little weak in an area. Now, if you stick that access point up, you might have too much coverage in that area, which is as bad as too little coverage. I think it's hard for everybody to get their heads around that. It's not just the vendor—it's also the customers. And how do we continue to partner and ensure that we're all going together as the technology changes.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been dealing with Cisco for 15 years or thereabouts.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Stability's good. I'm not saying we don't end up with something flakey every once in a while, but it's not often at all.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Cisco Wireless seems to be pretty scalable. But, again, they do an excellent job of saying exactly what the coverage will be. And so we have to make sure that when someone wants to add things they understand what it means. Do I have to resurvey that whole area? Because they'll say, it was just wired for wireless access, not location tracking. So now I've got to go in and check my density and things like that. It's very scalable, but when you shift gears sometimes, you have to do more work than people anticipate.

    How are customer service and support?

    Cisco support is good, but I think it could be better. Their collaboration with their partners is probably the biggest challenge I've had. If I have an issue with an application that runs off the Cisco network and Cisco has to work with their partner to resolve it, that gets a little hanky sometimes.

    How was the initial setup?

    We've been using the initial one, but we've swapped it out since then, and it's been relatively painless. And when we've expanded, the new buildings get new wireless. And when we've bought new hospitals, they get new wireless. So you've got the stuff that's been in there for a long time, and you've got the stuff that hasn't been there for long at all. So we have a routine for what to do when we've got a new building.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    I don't know the details about the pricing. Typically it just gets lumped into my project. So I'm not sure what we're paying in licensing fees. 

    What other advice do I have?

    I'd give Cisco Wireless an eight out of 10. I don't know what to compare it to, but I'm hesitant to give anybody a 10. I'd give them an eight. If you are considering Cisco Wireless, I suggest looking at the total cost of ownership. This stuff doesn't last forever. So when you put it in the ceiling, when will you need to replace it? It's not a one-time investment. And then what is it going to take to get it there? Because sometimes you may end up with the impact you have every time. Hospitals are constantly renovating. Depending on what you need wireless for, you may have to spend tens of thousands re-surveying and repositioning your access points to optimize if you remodel an area. You may have thought, "Oh, I already have wireless in there. Just because I'm moving these three or four walls doesn't mean..." Well, it does mean something. The total cost of ownership matters. Make sure remediations are built into your capital budget if you're doing construction.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    MuhammadNaeem - PeerSpot reviewer
    Network & Information Security Engineer at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Excellent support and lots of great features but needs a better interface
    Pros and Cons
    • "The stability is great. It's very reliable."
    • "Older versions used to be hard to deploy. The latest OS, however, has made things a lot easier. While deployment is much better, it could always be even easier."

    What is most valuable?

    The support from Cisco is always excellent. It's often better than other options, including Aruba.

    The product has so many features. If there are maybe a hundred features, a typical organization may only need 60 or 65 at maximum. There's a wide variety of options to choose from.  

    The stability is great. It's very reliable. 

    You can do multiple layers with the new OS that Cisco offers. 

    The new OS streamlines the Cisco offering and it's been very good. 

    The solution can scale well.

    What needs improvement?

    Cisco moved from the 5000 series, which was a different OS, to a newer OS, right. The 9800, for example, practically improved how a wireless switch or wireless controller should work, which was not so good in terms of Cisco in the earlier versions. It's improved a lot, however, if you are using older versions, you are on a different OS, and it's not as good as it is now. 

    Older versions used to be hard to deploy. The latest OS, however, has made things a lot easier. While deployment is much better, it could always be even easier. 

    The interface could be improved. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using the solution for five years or so. We used it for a while, then left it, then came back to it. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is very good. I can't find any fault. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's very reliable. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is nice. 

    We have about 10,000 to 12,000 or so users on the solution right now. 

    I'm not sure if we plan to increase usage. We are already 100% covered. 

    How are customer service and support?

    Technical support from Cisco is very good. It's always been much better than its competitors in this regard. We are quite satisfied with how helpful and responsive they continue to be. There is no equivalent on the market. They simply will not let you down.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I currently also use Aruba. I also have worked with Extreme. 

    There are very similar devices and have the same features for the most part. Both are stable and excellent in terms of capabilities. Cisco, however, does offer better support.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is now pretty straightforward. Cisco came out with a new OS that streamlined everything - including the initial setup. Where Aruba used to be easier (in terms of implementation), Cisco, with its newest updates, has very much improved and they are neck and neck in terms of ease of setup.

    I can get a Cisco network up and running n 30 minutes. If someone knows how a Cisco controller works, I am sure, even with the HA, that person can build one full working controller within one hour. For me, in a lab set up with a virtual machine, in a maximum of 30 minutes, I can bring it up and make a small network work. Within one hour I can do that setup.

    What about the implementation team?

    I can handle the initial setup myself using the GUI for the controller. 

    What was our ROI?

    We don't really see Cisco as a solution that provides an ROI. It's more of a required service for us. 

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The licensing is usually for an average of three years, depending on what we buy.

    There may be some add-ons that could cost a bit more. 

    While, typically, Cisco is a little bit more costly, the costs also depend on your relationship with Cisco.

    What other advice do I have?

    I'm a customer and an end-user.

    We are using versions six and eight, a mix of both.

    We tend to use the on-premises deployment model as we are in healthcare and there are restrictions on what we can do with the cloud and what we cannot do with the cloud.

    For those considering the solution, I'd advise them to make sure the support is good in their area or for the solution you choose and that there are knowledgeable people around so that if there are any issues, they can be addressed. 

    I would rate the solution at a seven out of ten.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    Manager at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    It integrates with the DNAT architecture
    Pros and Cons
    • "One of the main advantages of Cisco Wireless is its DNAT compatibility. When we have dynamic segmentation, or the DNAT enabled on the LAN, Cisco Access Point integrates with the DNAT architecture. Aruba Switches cannot integrate with the Cisco DNAT architecture."
    • "Cisco won't work with any other vendors. That is a significant problem with Cisco."

    What is most valuable?

    One of the main advantages of Cisco Wireless is its DNAT compatibility. When we have dynamic segmentation, or the DNAT enabled on the LAN, Cisco Access Point integrates with the DNAT architecture. Aruba Switches cannot integrate with the Cisco DNAT architecture. However, if we have an all-Aruba framework in offices where we have implemented this with the complete dynamic segmentation using Aruba Dynamic Segmentation, only Aruba AP works.

    What needs improvement?

    Cisco can't block specific sites on the internet like Aruba, so we're in the process of replacing them. We have already placed lots of orders with Aruba. Aruba has the ClearPass NAT solution, and Cisco has its ISE policy engine. Cisco won't work with any other vendors. That is a significant problem with Cisco. It can't integrate with ClearPass. We already tried this in a POC for ClearPass. Aruba is becoming integrated with ISE, but Cisco will not integrate with ClearPass.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been using Cisco Wireless for more than 10 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Cisco Wireless has not been that stable. In the past, Cisco Wireless could handle only a small number of users per access point. Once the number of users per access point increases beyond 10 or 15, you start facing disconnection issues with the users, and the performance slows. This has been my experience in the past five years, but Cisco has made a lot of improvements in their access points over the past two years.

    Now it's a multi-band network, so they have improved on that front. The connections are stable. The performance still degrades if the number of users per access point increases, but now it's 20 or 30 users on the same access point. So you have to plan your access point design and placement so no more than 20 users will be connected to one access point.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Cisco Wireless is scalable, but that depends on the definition of "scalable." I can deploy it at two offices and I can scale it to 200 offices. However, when you integrate the access point and the controller with the DNAT across multiple sites, you need a DNAT cluster, which is a costly solution. Every site has a controller, and a DNAT cluster is not a good option in a global framework. It's okay for a small office or a few offices. But when you're talking about 500 offices, the cost becomes enormous. We're using Cisco Wireless extensively right now because none of our offices are on the wired network, and we have roughly 25,000 users.

    How are customer service and support?

    Technical support is okay. It takes some time to resolve a complex issue. But if it's a known issue, it gets settled within the time limit set by the SLA.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We have a mix of Cisco and Aruba. Aruba hardware is superior to Cisco's. Cisco cannot come close to matching Aruba in throughput, performance, and coverage area. Cisco's main advantage is integration with ISE because many organizations can't shift the NAT or the authentication part. It's very difficult or not advisable to do it.

    How was the initial setup?

    The Access Point configuration is plug-and-play, but the controller configuration is complex. You need some skilled people to configure Cisco Wireless. The deployment strategy is it deploy the controllers initially and upgrade them over time. Our last upgrade was three years ago when Cisco released its latest OS. The DNAT integration is ongoing. 

    We have our in-house network team, but we also get support from Cisco and Aruba. We have vendor support in addition to our own set of team members who are working on the deployment.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Cisco Wireless is complex, and it's not cost-effective.

    What other advice do I have?

    I rate Cisco Wireless eight out of 10. They still need to improve in a lot of areas. For example, Cisco needs to raise the throughput. At the same time, they've made a lot of advancements in the past two years. The access points are performing better. It's stable. They've added a multi-gig port, which is increasing the throughput of the users. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Cisco Wireless Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
    Updated: July 2022
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    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Cisco Wireless Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.