Cisco On-prem Wireless Controllers: Cisco WLC 5520 Vs Cisco WLC 5508

Today I am going to talk about the Cisco wireless controller Cisco 5520 and Cisco 5508 controllers. Most of the enterprises if uses Cisco they will go with these models although Cisco has other models as well like 2504 and 3504 WLC which are widely accepted in the industries.

Cisco WLC 5508 is going to be end of Sale as it is already end of life in January 31, 2018. The recommended replacement model for Cisco WLC 5508 is Cisco WLC 5520. You can check the EOL and EOS guide for Cisco WLC 5508 in the Cisco data sheets.

Here in this article I am just comparing the capabilities of both the controller with respect to each other and which model is used where. As Cisco announces the End of Life to Cisco WLC 5508 so the only option is Cisco WLC 5520 as of now.

Below is the image showing WLC 5508 controller Console view

Fig 1.1- Cisco Wireless Controller Dashboard

Cisco 5508 Wireless Controller supports Cisco Application Visibility and Control(AVC), the technology that includes the Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR-2) engine, Cisco’s deep packet inspection (DPI) capability. 

The NBAR-2 engine can classify applications, applies quality of service (QoS) setting to either drop or mark the traffic, and prioritizes business-critical applications in the network.

Specifications for Cisco Wireless : It is supporting the standards - IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11d, WMM/802.11e, 802.11h, 802.11k, 802.11n, 802.11r, 802.11u, 802.11w, 802.11ac.

Wired/Switching/Routing Standards Specifications : It is supporting the standards- IEEE 802.3 10BASE-T, IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX specification, 1000BASE-T. 1000BASE-SX, 1000-BASE-LH, IEEE 802.1Q Vtagging, and IEEE 802.1AX Link Aggregation.

The 5508 also supports Bonjour Services Directory to enable Bonjour Services to be advertised and utilized in a separate Layer 3 network. 

Wireless Policy engine is a wireless profiler and policy feature on the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller that enables profiling of wireless devices and enforcement of policies such as VLAN assignment, QoS, ACL and time-of-day-based access.

Above mentioned all standards are supported on Cisco WLC 5520 as well. Now the question is what is the difference between these two Wireless controllers. The major difference is the throughput of the wireless controllers. 

WLC 5520 has much better throughput as compare to Cisco WLC 5508 controller. Below is the table showing some of the difference which will help you guys to understand the situation where you can have Cisco WLC 5520 instead of WLC 5508.

Fig 1.2- Comparison WLC 5520 Vs WLC 5508

Access Point Support with WLC 5508 and WLC 5520 

Below are the Access points which support WLC 5508 and WLC 5520
  • Access points 1260, 3500, 600
  • Access Points 1600, 2600, 3600
  • Access Points 1700, 2700, 3700
  •  Access Points 1800, 2800 and 3800

IT managers can provide wired and wireless secured and controlled access to the Internet for guests on the same wireless LAN controller. Guest users must be allowed to connect to designated Ethernet ports and access the guest network as configured by the administrator after they complete the configured authentication methods. 

Wireless guest users can easily connect to the WLAN Controllers with the current guest access features. This provides a unified wireless and wired guest access experience to the end users. 

A single WLAN controller (VLAN Translation mode)–the access switch trunks the wired guest traffic in the guest VLAN to the WLAN controller that provides the wired guest access solution. This controller carries out the VLAN translation from the ingress wired guest VLAN to the egress VLAN.