Cisco has released Cisco Mobility Express aimed toward the SMB market. In a move that positions this solution in between Meraki and the enterprise controller-based models.
In going through the installation, it appears to be aimed at someone less technical or for the systems administrator that needs to quickly deploy a small wireless network.
In my lab, I have two Cisco 1832I access points which is required for Cisco Mobility Express. I will go through deploying Cisco Mobility Express in a network and demonstrate how easy it is to set up.
Keep in mind, wifi deployment involves proper planning. There is an assumption of some wifi and networking knowledge when configuring Cisco Mobility Express and as such, I highly recommend you read my previous posts on wireless planning and deployment.
What Encompasses Cisco Mobility Express?
There are only two types of controllers (Master APs), they are the Aironet 1850 and 1830. In my lab I have 1832I APs.
Supported APs in this model (subordinate APs) include the following Aironet models:
This network can pack quite the punch in terms of access point models. Especially, for external antenna needs I find this appealing. To include these access points in Cisco Mobility Express, you will have to download the correct image and install it on the access point.
What Are The Restrictions?
Currently, running version 184.108.40.206, you can only support up to 25 APs and 500 clients. Truly only supporting SMBs but the system is built with room to grow. When you need more capacity, these APs (meaning the 1800s) can be converted into lightweight APs to be joined to a controller.
Cisco Meraki or Cisco Mobility Express?
Probably the question on everyones mind right? It looks like Mobility Express competes with Meraki. In my opinion, they do. But they differ.
With Meraki, you get a controller in the cloud. Management is very simple. You pay for an AP and you pay for a license per AP for management. The dashboard is updated frequently with new features.
Mobility Express differs in that you are only paying for the AP. There is no license for the management portion. Some people like that. I even find that you have more control over the wireless network with Mobility Express, as we’ll see in this post and upcoming posts.
Configuring the Cisco 1800 access point is as easy as plugging it in and waiting for the SSID, CiscoAirProvision, to appear.