Cisco :: Considering And Replacing AIR-LAP1131AG-A-K9 APs

May 20, 2013

We have about 70 AIR-1131AG-A-K9 APs that were installed about 5 years ago.  The controller we use is a 4404 WLC, with software 4.1.171.0.  This provides us our wireless network.  We use Cisco switches as access, distribution, and core switches.
 
We have two guest networks, one for visiting physicians and another for patients and their guests.  Each of these guest networks use a 4402 WLC as an anchor controller, with software 4.1.171.0.  They use the same APs as our business network. 
 
According to my understanding of the guest networks is that a tunnel (I don't know if it is encrypted or or encapsulated) is created between the APs/Guest WLAN to the anchor controllers, so this guest traffic is isolated from our business traffic.  Futhermore, these guest controllers connect directly to our firewall, which only allows them access to the Internet, and not our Internal LAN.
 
Our Problem
=========================
Well, we've been having problems with our wireless system, specifcally with patient guest access.  It has gotten bad enough that they are looking to replace the Cisco APs on the south side of the hospital.  We've been told that "you can get better guest access at McDonalds" : ( .  I think part of our problem is that our controller code is so very old and we are have a our patient guest network open and "restrict" the number of clients attached to it by limiting our DHCP scope.  The biggest complaint we get regarding the patient/guest wireless is people saying "I can't connect to the wireless", which we almost always identify as an issue caused by us running our of DHCP leases (we have about 200).  These DHCP lease are used quickly, by an devices that comes into range that is set to automatically connect to any network that is in range.  A lot of our staff is connected to our patient guest network and don't even realize it.
 
We are interested in Meraki APs because they are magaged using a cloud controller (we won't have the added expense of another controller) and they seem really easy to manage.  Our biggest concern regarding Mearki is security.  They make use of NAT, a Layer 3 firewall, and LAN isolation (a firewall rule that only allows clients Internet access) in each AP as a means of isolating the guest traffic from the business traffic.  Does this seem like a secure way to accomplish this or are the Layer 2 tunnels that Cisco and from what I've been told recently Aruba and Juniper make use of a more secure approach?
 
We've been working with a Meraki vendor, who also happens to sell Aruba and Juniper wireless networks.  It seems like don't suggest Meraki if we are concerned with security.  They said they are good for situations where you have many geographically seperated sites.  They suggested we use Juniper and Aruba, specifically because they use Layer 2 tunnels and that they used technologies like clear air (APs self adjust channels and power, which Meraki claims to do too).  I thought that, hey does Cisco that too, why wouldn't we just go with Cisco if those are your selling points for Juniper and Aruba?

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[Code].....

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[code]....

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